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  • 6 min read

by Matt Weik

I try to stay on top of the supplement industry and see what supplement brands are doing what and the new products they are releasing. That being said, I recently saw a brand announce they are coming out with a really cool product (I’m not going to name names) but mentioned they will be releasing it nine months from now. Wait… what? I kid you not.

I’m not sure what the point of this is. Think about it, when smaller supplement brands announce some cool new product launches almost a year in advance, what do you think will happen? I’ll tell you… The larger brands that can move faster will steal the ideal and beat the “originator” to market assuming it’s a good idea.

Supplement Brands Should Stay Quiet

The supplement industry is cut-throat and if larger supplement brands can steal ideas, you can bet your buns that they’re going to do it. Let’s face it, smaller supplement brands generally don’t have the financial means to move quickly when compared to some of the bigger brands out there. When you show your cards, it gives everyone else the ability to make strategic moves to beat you – from all angles.

What makes things even worse, is that in the announcement, the smaller supplement brands will tell the public exactly what the product will contain (just not in what dosages). That being said, anyone who has a couple of brain cells can simply take those included ingredients, see what the research shows in terms of efficacious dosages, and then formulate their own product. This isn’t rocket science.

This all goes hand-in-hand with transparent labels. The one thing I keep telling brands is that when you have transparent labels, while it looks good in the eyes of the consumer, it allows every Tom, Dick, and Harry to steal your profile and launch a copycat product – potentially killing your sales.

Making the announcement and creating hype around your product is one thing but doing it early can cost you dearly. Let’s use the example of if I own the small supplement brand called Weik Fitness Sports Nutrition (I made this name up). I go to someone like Stack3d and provide them with all the details so they can publish it on their website. They run with it and mention I’m going to launch “Product X” in nine months and now everyone (including other supplement brands) know exactly what I’m doing.

Sure, consumers are going to be pumped about the news of a cool new (potentially innovative) product but one or both of two things can happen. The first thing that will happen is that announcing the launch nine months early will get an initial boost in eyeballs on your brand but that will quickly fade since there are months before the launch and the hype will die off and even be totally forgotten. Next thing you know, everyone has gone back to using the other brands they are used to purchasing and fewer eyeballs are on your brand.

What happens next could be a larger company, (let’s just say Glanbia, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, or NBTY – depending on the type of product) swoops in and steals your idea and produces the product faster than you. Now, you’re stuck chasing them for market share when you actually decide to launch the product. So, think about it. Who is a consumer going to buy the product from? Weik Fitness Sports Nutrition that no one really knows? Or someone like BSN, Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Milk, or a brand owned by PepsiCo or Coca-Cola? The list of big names goes on and on.

Not only that but think about marketing dollars. Glanbia, NBTY, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola have a seemingly endless amount of money they can throw at marketing the product. They are going to get eyeballs on the product from every angle possible while a smaller brand may only have the money to run Facebook and Google Ads. That’s not going to be enough to beat some of these behemoths in the industry.

A Lot Can Change Before Launch

If supplement brands announce a product launch nearly a year early, there are a lot of moving parts that can cause a pivot. What if there is a market crash like what we are experiencing? People are holding onto their money and hoping the market rebounds. Their priorities may have shifted from supplements to more essential products and purchases. Paying their mortgage becomes more important than buying a new energy drink or protein powder. What if the industry moves away from a certain ingredient? What if the price of raw materials increases over all of those months and now you realize you can’t launch the product because it isn’t going to be cost-effective and the price point is going to be way too high?

The last thing a brand wants, especially if they considered one of the small supplement brands is to have egg on your face. If I tell you I’m launching a product and it never happens, will consumers believe me the next time I say I’m launching something? Probably not. Consumer trust goes a long way and once small supplement brands lose that trust, it’s incredibly difficult to get it back.

Maintain a Poker Face

Put on your dark non-reflective sunglasses and sit at the table with a poker face. Don’t show emotion. Don’t smirk. Don’t give anyone an idea about what you are about to throw down on the table to take all the chips in the pot. Smart brands hold their cards until they are absolutely certain everything is a go and that they have the best chance to win. They don’t sit there and ask if a pair of aces is a good hand.

Don’t spend all that time and money on something that someone else can steal. Wait, be patient, and make a splash when the deck is stacked in your favor.