New products energize VMS aisle
What is coming down the pike? More importantly, what are suppliers doing to catch the consumer’s attention in the constantly evolving vitamin, weight management and sports nutrition categories?
Suppliers and retailers converged on Washington, D.C., in mid-January to both preview new products and discuss new initiatives at the annual ECRM Vitamin, Weight Management and Sports Nutrition EPPS. ECRM officials said that more than 500 people were in attendance for the event.
Here is a look at what some companies are offering to the trade in coming months.
The Irwindale, Calif.-based company is offering BioTerra Herbs, a line of herbal supplements that company officials said are designed to “balance the body” are gluten-free, non-GMO and completely natural.
The 14-SKU line features such items as detox, joint, energy, male fertility, weight management and snoring products. Most 60-count packages are priced at $19.99. Company officials said they are targeting female millennials with the bulk of the line and use what they describe as “blunt and direct” packaging to educate shoppers at the point of purchase.
“Right now, about 60% of our ingredients are harvested from our own farms,” Lisa Zhong, the company’s CEO, said. “We want to be at 100% in a few years, and to completely control the quality of our products. We believe in quality over quantity. Consumers quickly trust in what we have to offer them.”
The Hollywood, Fla.-based company is introducing an eight-SKU line of liquid water enhancers. The products, Best Aminos, Best Energy, carnitine and garcinia, each come in two flavors and each has a suggested retail price of $3.99 for a 24-serving package.
“This is truly a convenience play for retailers,” said Chris Mackenzie, the company’s senior vice president. “And with the low pricing, it will bring more consumers into the category who was previously reluctant to pay the $30 or so price point for other products. With our product, the user can just drop it into his or her gym bag and take it out when needed.”
In honor of its 50th anniversary last year, Mason Vitamins is rebranding its entire line of vitamins and supplements. According to Patricia Jones, the Miami Lakes, Fla.-based company’s sales-general manager, the new packaging will be more up-to-date and feature its heritage logo, as well as highlight that the company was founded in 1967.
Mason Vitamins has more than 400 SKUs in its line of products. “After exhaustive and collaborative research, we think that we have come up with packaging that features a cleaner label that makes it easier for the consumer to understand what the products are designed to do for them. We think it will quickly lead to more sales,” Jones said.
The company also is introducing eight SKUs in the first quarter of 2018. The new items include vitamin K2, biotin, Osteo Restore Joint therapy, a match gummy and a collagen gummy, as well as a body, hair, skin and nails gummy. They have suggested retail prices of $12 each.
Mauer Sports Nutrition
The Albertville, Minn.-based company is offering the Organic Trim weight management bar, which includes svetol, an ingredient that company officials said is clinically-proven to burn fat. The product is low in sodium, high in fiber and has no refined sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. It has a suggested retail price of $2.99.
“On top of all of that, it tastes amazing,” said Tim Braun, the company’s president. “The category has been struggling because there has been very little innovation in recent years. Our product is going to make a big difference. Most weight management bars are not healthy for the user. Our product is the first natural and organic weight management bar on the market. It is nutritious and tasty.”
Mauer also is offering its Collagen Protein JumpShot, a strawberry banana-flavored shot that is designed to support cartilage, nails, skin and the digestion process, as well as better sleep. It has a suggested retail price of $3.99.
The Plainview, N.Y.-based company is pushing its Dr. Redcross line of supplements. The 20 SKU-line of products includes vitamin D, omega fish oil, Ultimate Brain Support, resveratrol and CoQ10, pycnogenol melt and melatonin melt. Suggested retail price points range between $10 and $29.95, though company officials said they try to keep prices under $20 per item.
Jason Kam, Purity Products’ vice president of business development, said that the products offer a number of unique benefits to users. For example, he said, the resveratrol product supports cardiovascular functions, while the melatonin melt supports restful and quality sleep. The formula for the Ultimate Brain Support product was developed with the help of Oxford University research on more than 200 aging consumers.
“We offer a unique product mix that is not a commodity item for retailers,” Kam said. “We focus on issues that consumers are becoming more and more concerned with, and our unique formulations will ultimately save them money. For the retailer, we produce incremental sales and we appeal to a multicultural type of consumer who may not have been purchasing these types of products in the past.”
Nick Symmonds, the CEO of Eugene, Ore.-based RunGum, was a former Olympic runner. Now he is taking his knowledge and desire and turning it into a product that he thinks will make a difference for those consumers who want an energy boost without what he calls “all the junk.”
The six-SKU line of energy-boosting gum items consists of both single-serving and bulk-pack products, and are priced at $2.99 for the single-serving and $22.49 for the bulk packages. “We are different from other energy boost products on the market,” said Symmonds, who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games in middle distance events. “The functionality of chewing gum allows for very fast absorption and leaves no junk in the stomach. It is great for those seeking better energy, alertness and focus. We are not reinventing the wheel; we are just making the wheel a little better. Our product is perfect for anyone on the run.”
It has worked in other countries, why can’t it succeed in the United States? That is what officials at Swisse, a Melbourne, Australia-based manufacturer of vitamins and supplements, hopes for as it introduces its product into this country.
Swisse has had much success in a number of other countries, including its home country of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, China, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Italy. The company offers 15 SKUs in its line, including men’s and women’s Ultivite, which company managing director Oliver Horn called the “ultimate multivitamin” and a children’s Ultivite. Other products include a liver detox product, a product for hair, skin and nails, and a product for better sleep. Products sell for between $15 and $35 each.
“We think that there is a great opportunity for us in America,” Horn said. “We have a great track record in other countries, and we are truly the first global lifestyle wellness brand. And, we have Nicole Kidman as our spokesperson in this country, and that will help us build our brand identity.”
The natural trend hits cough-cold aisle
Echoing growing consumer interest in cleaner ingredients that’s coursing through center store, the cough-cold aisle is playing host to an increasing number of natural products.
“Natural continues to be a big factor in this category,” Philip Gentlesk, principal at Bedford, N.H.-based Lanes Brands, said. “Retailers have to offer natural alternatives to conventional products. A lot of them are making a point of doing that.”
Lanes Brands currently is preparing a major relaunch of its Jakemans cough drops with a new look this year. “The changes we’ve made to the packaging makes a modern appeal while retaining that nostalgic apothecary look and feel,” Gentlesk said.
And consumers aren’t just interested in natural products for themselves — parents are a key demographic that manufacturers are working to appeal to, as well.
“Natural is the new normal,” Worth Anne Herrell, co-founder of Dallas-based Oilogic Essential Oil Care, said. The company markets products with essential oils as natural remedies. “Millennial parents are seeking solution-oriented products that meet the needs of their unique child. Our Stuffy Nose & Cough [essential oil product] is highlighted as a natural solution to desperate parents who are seeking help to comfort their child, who most likely is too young to take over the counter medication.”
Rather than only seeking natural remedies once they’re already sick, consumers are increasingly looking for immune-boosting products to keep them from catching the latest bug. One of the beneficiaries of this trend has been EZC Pak, which makes five-day immune support packs with supplements that include Echinacea, zinc and vitamin C.
“EZC Pak is leading the charge in terms of new natural product offerings in the cold and flu category,” Sarath Malepati, medical director at PPC Group, said. “This subcategory of combination immune support products is among the fastest growing overall in cold and flu. We had quadruple digit store growth in 2017, and plan to keep the pedal to the metal in 2018 as our distribution continues to grow.”
Another preventive OTC area seeing innovation is hand sanitizer, as more consumers look for products that can offer multiple benefits — something Jessica Postiglione, co-founder of New York City-based Olika, said, which the sanitizer upstart is looking to capitalize on. “Consumers are keen on multitasking products, whether it’s a multisymptom cold relief medicine or a hand sanitizer that both protects and moisturizes the skin,” she said.
Olika last year introduced Birdie — a 2-in-1 hand sanitizer containing a spray and dry wipes. “Consumers are consistently expecting more,” Postiglione said. “The brands that stay ahead of the curve are the ones which continue to innovate across all aspects of their product, from packaging and formulation to online presence, relevance and personality.”
A balm-y cold season
Cold weather doesn’t just bring sniffles and sneezes — it also can bring dry lips. The lip care segment is tied to cough-cold — which this year is bringing lip balm manufacturers a boon.
“Cold, dry weather and illness both really impact our business because we are merchandised in the cough-cold planogram,” said Jona Mancuso, vice president of marketing at Franklin, Wis.-based Carma Labs. “The more people who come down the aisle for illness-related reasons will generally have a positive impact on our business.”
That being the case, in the same way that sales of cough-cold products are off to a fast start, so are lip balm sales. “Pre-season, September [and on] looks like we are off to a slightly faster start than prior years,” Mancuso said.
The trend toward natural also is resonating among consumers seeking relief from dry, irritated or chapped lips. “Natural is one of the most important consumer trends across all personal care categories,” Mancuso said. “Natural/organic personal care shoppers are buying more now than they ever have.”
Mancuso said Carma Labs is looking to capitalize on both of these trends in the coming months with the line extension across its Carmex Comfort Care brand of a natural offering this spring and the extension of its Daily Care Tube three-pack in flavors that officials said have broad appeal. Multipacks in particular have been drawing more of consumers’ dollars recently.
“Multipack category volume has continued to increase year-over-year,” Mancuso said. “Over the past four years, it’s grown from 14% of the category to 18% of the category. That is something we expect to continue as our retailers look to increase their average unit retail.”