by Matt Weik
Let’s be honest, consumers are smarter today than they ever were, and their knowledge is constantly expanding. Marketing ploys that once worked to sell a product are no longer pulling weight management products off the shelves. People used to believe the claims of “Lose 10 pound in 5 days!” Now, they simply laugh at such an ad.
We have anything we want to know or find out right in the palm of our hands – smartphones. On the fly we can Google anything and get an answer immediately. Unfortunately for the supplement industry, this is hurting sales to an extent compared to where they could be if consumers weren’t so smart today.
You can go to any website that sells supplements and see reviews from consumers. While I wouldn’t trust most reviews today (I’ll save that for another article), you can read what people have been saying. If you see the product didn’t do anything for someone and they wouldn’t recommend it, then you know it probably isn’t the best choice to buy and try.
Also, people are finally starting to look at research. Most of the research out on the market today will show that the ingredients in majority of weight management products do not work. There is very little evidence that it will make a difference in your weight and/or body fat. For this reason, people are starting to give up on weight management products and look for something new.
Obesity rates are still rising
You might be asking how weight management and weight loss pill sales are slowing down when the obesity rates keep going up. One would imagine that promoting a pill that can help you lose weight out be flying off the shelves. It actually has nothing to do with weight at all. It comes down to the fact that consumers are smarter and know that weight loss pills don’t work or that they yield minimal results and once you stop using the product, the weight comes right back.
It’s a matter of a lifestyle change versus some magic pill that is going to help the weight just fall off your body. If only it worked that way! So, rather than spending money on products that don’t truly give any benefits, sufferers of obesity are simply throwing their hands up in the air and waving the white flag in surrender.
However, supplement companies are seeing that there is less trust in weight management products today and that they need to change their marketing in order to pull this same demographic back it.
I ain’t no dummy!
The game is changing and brands are getting more conscious of what they say in their marketing and on their labels. However, this to an extent is completely backfiring. Let me explain.
No longer are we seeing outlandish claims (at least not from reputable brands) being promoted. That being said, more brands are wording their copy in such a way that it makes the product sound like it is pharmaceutical grade. While in theory this sounds great, when the product doesn’t get the individual results all credibility is loss (again) with weight management products.
What have these brands decided to do? Again, they went back to the drawing board, only this time they starting thinking outside the (weight loss) box.
Why don’t we just change the name?
Since the term “weight loss pill” and “fat burner” has been played out and the name pulled through the mud, brands have decided to simply change the name to something that resonates better with their consumer and audience. Now, they are calling such products, “functional.” The term functional seems more mainstream as well when compared to something like weight loss pill or fat burner.
This also opens the door for brands to introduce “functional foods” into their portfolio. These functional products are geared more towards overall health and wellness rather than strictly weight loss. They toss in a few extra benefits associated with the product on top of weight management and they call it a day. In essence, we have just about the same product as before when called a weight loss pill, only now being called a functional supplement in hopes that it opens itself up to a larger demographic.
I get it, brands are trying to reinvent an existing product where the sales have slowed. However, changing the name to “functional” is only doing a disservice to the true functional products on the market today. In the example of functional foods, their purpose is to help improve overall health. When you take a product that is literally a fat burner and call if functional because it will improve health by increasing metabolism, aid in utilizing body fat for energy, etc., you have a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Sooner or later, “functional” is also going to have a black eye where consumers will not have any trust in it and so the cycle will continue. What’s the next term going to be?