Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Natural Products Industry Dot Edu

By James J. Gormley

These days there is much discussion — as there should be — about standards, certifications, and what’s in a given bottle of supplements (such as superior quality ingredients) and what’s not in it (e.g., GMO-free and gluten-free).

But what can empower a company to confidently map out the life trajectory of a dietary supplement from sprout to shelf? Education.

It is fortunate, then, for producers and consumers that the Natural Products Association (NPA) and UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a “global independent safety science company with more than a century of expertise innovating safety solutions” are now working together to offer “increased educational opportunities to NPA members,” according to a recent NPA announcement.

Having served on the NPA Education Committee some years ago, and having helped companies comply with regulatory requirements since then, I can confidently say that this educational boost will help participating member companies learn, brush up on, and master what is needed to navigate the oftentimes confusing seas of regulatory compliance.

From preparing for cGMP inspections, to cGMP quality control requirements, to production and process controls, to structure-function claims and labeling, to SOPs and more, the planned educational modules appear to address a whole range of critical areas important to the natural products industry.

The new partnership will combine NPA’s regulatory and compliance expertise with “top-notch training modules from EduNeering, the online regulatory training division of UL,” according to the NPA.

“Given the combined reputation and expertise of both NPA and UL, our collaborative efforts to bring elevated education to the natural products industry is the logical next step for both organizations,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., CEO of the NPA.

“NPA brings a level of regulatory expertise in Dr. Fabricant and Dr. Corey Hilmas that is unmatched in the dietary supplement industry, and UL is very pleased to be partnering with them in this new endeavor. Through this alliance, the industry and consumers will undoubtedly be better served,” said Mike O’Hara, general manager of global nutraceuticals for UL.

“Our combined vision is to see one program the industry can turn to for dietary supplement education, and we see this being that program,” Dr. Fabricant added. “We anticipate this to be the start of a lasting relationship between NPA and UL that will reflect this shared vision and impact our industry in a very profound and meaningful way.”

Given UL’s global recognition and universal adoption, I anticipate good things coming out of this collaboration, including a more savvy industry marketplace that is better equipped and stronger than ever before, which will benefit the industry and consumers.
[Note: Adapted from an article which originally appeared in Natural Products INSIDER Supplement Perspectives]

Friday, January 2, 2015

You Wanna Be in Pictures?

By James J. Gormley

Having been a print magazine editor for various publications for many years, I am still happy to admit that there is nothing that matches the appeal of TV and radio for grabbing consumers, whether during breakfast TV news or drive-time radio.

Case in point: The year was 1999. I had been the editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition magazine for about four years when I had just come out with my first book, a mass-market consumer book about DHA and omega-3 fats.

Lo and behold, the biggest player in that space, at that time, contacted me to see if I would be willing to participate in a radio media tour to support my book and the DHA category.

With my OK, they put my mugshot and pitch about me and my book on the cover of the Radio-TV Interview Report (RTIR), a publication widely read by radio and TV producers. I wound up doing nearly 100 radio interviews in 1999 as a result of that ad and the work of a show booker the company had hired promoting me to producers. Needless to say, the sales of DHA skyrocketed that year, not thanks to me, necessarily, but most assuredly thanks to the message and the work of the booker.

The same year, I was invited by show producers to do several segments on FOX-TV’s Good Day New York to talk about a variety of health topics. Why: thanks to the work of the ad in radio-TV producer publications. This, in turn, helped promote the magazine brand.

But what (or who) will promote your brand?

Ideally, you or your PR firm have identified a number of key influencers, experts or opinion leaders (KOLs), experts who are willing to make supportive statements that support your category (for sure) and your brand (possibly).

These experts can be included in a “Directory of Experts” you send out to media and can also be called upon to give category- (not brand-) supportive quotes and statements to media.

Before we get into suggested radio outlets, you may be asking: How much money do you need to push the sale of a certain product at a given price? According to Inc., a common formula is: If you spend $10 of the selling price of an item that cost $300 on advertising, then you should be willing to spend $3,000 in advertising to sell 300 units and generate $90,000 in sales.

“The other way is to set aside a flat percentage of your total projected sales revenues for advertising, “ notes Inc. “So if you plan to dedicate five percent of your revenues and you expect to bring in $100,000 in sales that year, you would spend $5,000 on advertising.”

Radio programs that are worth considering include:

Steve Lankford’s “Health Quest” Podcast

Dr. Ronald Hoffman’s “Intelligent Medicine” Podcast

The Robert Scott Bell Show

Prescriptions for Health
Dr. Len Saputo and Nurse Vicki

Duke and the Doctor

The Gary Null Show

Sister Jenna’s “America Meditating” Podcast

But wait, who can manage and produce the ads I need and secure the programs I want?

While there are many outfits out there, AdLab is one of the best. Headed up by Barry Cohen (author of 10 Ways To Screw Up An Ad Campaign: And How to Create Ones That Work), AdLab can help you navigate through the minefield of radio, TV and online advertising, and promotions.

Take-home? Find an expert and a service that will utilize your expert to promote your category (or brand, perhaps), but make sure you (and your expert) are in compliance with all applicable FDA guidance and regulations regarding, for example, testimonials. Check out the resources noted here to take your product or brand to the next level.

[Note: Adapted from an article which originally appeared in Natural Products INSIDER Supplement Perspectives]

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Trade Organization Overload?

By James J. Gormley

The above headline comes from the provocative question I was asked for this article: Are there too many trade associations?

“The question is not whether we have too many trade associations, or not enough, but whether they are getting the job done,” notes Jarrow Rogovin, founder and president of Los Angeles, CA-based Jarrow Formulas.

Rogovin, who might be regarded as a one-man trade association himself, has a point. Every trade association has its strong suits and its specialties, and so, once again, the answer to the ultimate existential question, “Who am I?,” should serve as a signpost as to which organization might be best suited to your company’s needs.

If you are heavily involved in herbals, AHPA might be the right organization for you; if OTCs are your bailiwick, then CHPA is the right group for your firm.

On the other hand, if you make or sell a variety of products, CRN, NPA or UNPA might be well suited for you, and if you want to reach retailers as well, that’s where NPA comes in again.

There are also associations that specialize in certain categories, such as GOED and the IPA.

Keep in mind, however, that you can join more than one association, and probably should consider doing so if your company is able, since in that way you maximize your firm’s chances of being on the front lines of promoting and defending the natural products industry, whoever is leading the charge.

Also remember that the most strategically minded trade associations are able to forge powerful collaborations with credible consumer groups on important or watershed issues.

A perfect, recent, example of this was the coalition of all of the natural products trade groups, plus consumer organization Citizens for Health, which together successfully campaigned for the passage of the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act (the AER Bill) in June 2006.

Another, more recent, example is Citizens for Health’s push in support of AHPA’s KeepSupplementsClean.org initiative.

There are other credible consumer organizations out there too, including, but not limited to, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), the National Health Federation (NHF), and Your Voice for Health (YVH).

Get these questions answered before you join any trade organization:

  1. Is this organization mainly focused on my channel of trade or type of business?
  2. Does the organization have a “1 member, 1 vote” policy for full members (it should)?
  3. Is the work the organization does focused on rubber-hits-the-road areas I want it to focus on?
  4. Is the organization more concerned about “having a seat at the table” than shaking up regulators and Congress?
  5. Does the organization provide ample opportunities for all voting members to serve on the board and committees?
  6. Is the organization respected and feared on Capitol Hill and in College Park, MD? (The first is great, but the latter is even better!)
  7. Does the organization plan to collaborate more with credible consumer organizations so that we, as an industry, can present a united front, one that cannot be dismissed as “industry only”?

And depending on how satisfied you are with the answers you get, along with recommendations from colleagues who are already members, you will be able to choose wisely.

A Trade Associations Primer

  • AHPA (American Herbal Products Association) is comprised of more than 300 domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of herbs and herbal products.
  • CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) represents more than 75 manufacturer member companies and 150 associate member companies. Manufacturer members manufacture or market OTC medicines and dietary supplements, including contract and private label manufacturers.
  • CRN (Council for Responsible Nutrition): a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 100+ dietary supplement manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers.
  • GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s) is a trade association whose goals are to increase consumption of omega-3s to adequate levels around the world and to ensure that the industry is producing quality omega-3 products that consumers can trust.
  • IPA (International Probiotics Association) is an international organization with members equally divided between industry and academia and its goal is to provide a unique forum for the exchange of research and the latest breakthroughs in probiotic technology and new product development.
  • NPA (Natural Products Association): NPA is the largest and oldest organization representing the entire natural products industry, with more than 2,000 members in all 50 states and internationally, accounting for over 10,000 retail, manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution locations of natural products.
  • UNPA (United Natural Products Alliance ) is an association representing many leading dietary supplement, functional food, natural products and analytical and technology companies that share a commitment to provide consumers with natural health products of superior quality, benefit and reliability.

    [Note: Adapted from an article which originally appeared in Natural Products INSIDER Supplement Perspectives]