Bringing Immune-Related Benefits to Market


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When it comes to launching a product in the crowded (and in-demand) area of ​​immune support, where do you begin? Susan Hewlings, director of scientific affairs at Nutrasource, suggests starting with that Dive into a very basic question: What is the product?

Speaking of Take control of the immunity and wellness marketPart of the Naturally Informed powered by virtual event series whole food Magazine and Industry Transparency Center advised Hewlings to determine if the product is a dietary supplement — and this can be done by examining the product’s mechanism of action as well as its intended effect. Hewlings’ summary of seven key questions to consider:

  • What is the product?
  • What is the correct dosage?
  • What is known about the product – is there a literature review, is there historical evidence of its use?
  • Who is the product intended for?
  • Where is it made and where do you plan to sell it? (This will affect regulatory pathways.)
  • how is it done?
  • Is there established safety data?

Hewlings was heavily focused on science—for good reason. “Literature research is your academic backbone,” she told attendees at the event. “It combines science with marketing and regulation. It can be used for publication in peer-reviewed literature. It can be used in whitepapers, blogs and website material. And it provides substantiation.”

When it comes time to design a study for the product, Hewlings suggested: “Design a study based on a question. What would you like to say about your product? What claims do you want to make? Clear research questions should be thoroughly developed to save you time, money and FTC letters.”

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A solid study can also help answer many of Hewlings’ original questions. For example, selenium can support the immune system – but how much? Vitamin C can be useful with a cold, but how often should it be taken?

Once the science is there, selling a product needs buyers. “Aspire to become an expert in both science and the markets,” Julian Mellentin, director at New Nutrition Business, told attendees. “Success comes from aligning science with consumer needs and delivering the benefit in a product. It doesn’t matter how good your science is if you can’t connect with consumers.” And that doesn’t just mean suppliers have to work with manufacturers – Mellentin says to the end consumer: “Give as much thought to retail strategy as you can of science. Where and how will this be sold? How will the consumer find it? This isn’t something you can leave to the end. This has to be part of the strategy from the start. Invest in both consumer research and science.”

Mellentin offered two tips to engage consumers:

  1. “Focus on ‘feeling’ the difference – products where customers leave reviews saying they feel different work well. Nothing inspires trust in a brand like buying a product that makes a tangible difference. And if they can’t feel the benefit, show them the benefit. For example, Annene — the No. 1 high-calcium dairy in Asia — went around providing consumers with free bone scans. They said it was more effective than marketing. It allowed people to understand and internalize the benefits of calcium for their bones.”
  2. “Your ingredient needs to make sense in the product format you’re selling. A few years ago there was a trend to put omega-3s in everything, like yogurt. But people don’t expect to find fish oil in their yogurt. They looked at the product and automatically decided it would taste like fish, so the product failed.”
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Clasado Bioscience’s business development director, Luis Gosalbez, Ph.D., also had a suggestion to make products more palatable to consumers: Make the appropriate number of claims. “The average number of applications is 3.1,” he explained. “Too little and the product is unattractive; too many, and the product will be considered snake oil, so you want to sit in that middle ground.

On the subject of claims, Ivan Wasserman, Managing Partner at Amin Talati Wasserman, explained the difference between the FTC and FDA. “FTC is responsible for advertising – everything you say in an ad, whether express or implied, must be justified. The FDA says you can’t say your product treats, cures, or prevents a disease, but you can say the ingredients in your products are great for the immune system.”

And then there are the other ways advertising can be contested: “The Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD) can challenge advertising, and it allows companies to challenge their competitors,” Wasserman explained. “The same goes for the Lanham Act, which allows competitors to challenge each other’s advertising in court – that goes for those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to go to the BBB. There’s also TINA, a consumer group that tracks what they see as false advertising – they keep a list of bad actors on their website. And then there are class action lawsuits, the bane of most marketers’ existence these days – these represent consumers who claim they were misled into buying the product by something you put on your product or advertisement were tricked. My law firm usually deals with 10 to 20 of them a month.”

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An FTC letter isn’t the end of the world — Wasserman noted, “If you stop doing what they tell you, you should be fine.” However, he added that a letter does not disappear. “If someone googles your business, this letter comes up, and it can make them wonder if you’re still doing things you shouldn’t be doing.”

Of course, stay informed!

You can view the sessions of this event below https://naturallyinformed.net/on-demand/. And join our next virtual event, Naturally Informed, Active Aging: Dominating the Market, which will include presentations on market trends, regulatory issues, emerging ingredient science and much more. This 3-day event will take place from November 16th to 18th. registration under www.naturallyinformed.net or scan the code to reserve your spot. WF



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