The key to your product's success? At Expo East it's becoming clear: Increasing education—rather than cutting prices—to add value that will lead to long-term success and loyal consumers.
On our first stop on Natural Products Expo East’s Baltimore retail store tour, a local nutritionist demoing Barlean’s fish oils confidently gave shoppers at Common Market in nearby Frederick the superlative “Most Educated.” That is, they ask questions and demand the science, she said, handing me a pamphlet highlighting the latest research on omega-3 absorption.
Moments later, I was talking with Tali Mozes, lead wellness buyer, as she took me through the store’s wellness department. The vast selection of personal care offerings—everything from high-end products to more recognizable, lower-priced natural brands—has the potential to reach two types of personal care crossover shoppers: Shoppers accustomed to salon-quality beauty products and those used to mass-market drugstore bargains. But, pointing to a well-known brand, not all of those personal care shoppers will buy here.
The reason: price. A natural brand entering a conventional grocery store has the potential to broaden its reach—hence opening up the world of naturals to more customers. Unfortunately, it also often will have a much lower price at the large grocery chain than at the local co-op. But! But! But a loyal consumer won’t make a decision on a bottle of lotion or a supplement based on a small price difference … will she?
As we passed the store’s top-selling supplements, Mozes explained the process she goes through with her customers to tailor their purchases to their specific needs. First, she asks “What are you eating?” and then she works with each customer to make necessary dietary and lifestyle changes that include a new product regimen. Common Market also carries Delicious Living as an added value and educational tool. The most gratifying part of her job, Mozes says, is when customers come back and tell her “It’s working.”
During the first day on the Expo East show floor, the word that came up in nearly every conversation was education. At Europharma and Highland’s, education is a key part of business, using webinars and store visits to ensure retailers and ultimately customers know not just the names of their products but how they work. The concept is familiar at Natural Foods Merchandiser and Delicious Living, where our mission has always been to educate natural products retailers and consumers.
Last year during Expo East, retail marketing expert Rafael Mael talked about why slashing prices is not a sustainable way to maintain consumer loyalty. And this year at Expo East it became even more apparent that it’s not. The most valuable thing for manufacturers, and those who sell and buy their products, is information. Because in the end, that’s what will get customers to adopt a long-term healthy lifestyle—one that includes your products.