Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, December 2016

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 50 DECEMBER 2016 Retailers On the Bright Side Experts talk opportunities and challenges in supplement retail. By KimBerly J. decKer D ickens may have had the French Revolution in mind when he wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But he just as easily could have been describing the state of play for 21 st -century dietary-supplement retailers. For despite posting current value growth of 5%, per a recent Euromonitor International report, the supplement sector—and the re- tailers who undergird it—face challenges, whether from regulation, fckle consumers, or an increasingly complex and fragmented marketplace. Just ask Robert Craven, CEO, MegaFood (Manchester, NH). His company hosted its frst ZingMojo summit in September, gath- ering retailers and thought leaders in the natural and health-and-wellness (H&W) communities for the express purpose of hashing out these and other issues, includ- ing "mass slippage," online competition, price pressures, and transparency. And if the summit confrmed anything, Craven says, it's that the accelerating pace of technological change creates an "incredible force that no one's experienced before, but that's afecting every retailer, and not just natural ones." One manifestation of this force is what Craven calls the "ubiquitous shopper." Tis nascent species "wants to buy whatever they want, wherever they are and with whatever tools are available," he says. Te upshot is that as the tools of technology increase shopping's ubiquity ("I can tell my watch to order something for me now," Cra- ven notes), supplement retailers will face an existential question: "How do we compete in this environment?" Tey could take a cue from other retail sectors by emphasizing category manage- ment, doubling down on e-commerce, or making hay out of the data that accrue every time a consumer makes a purchase. But the natural and H&W communities being "very right-brain," as Craven characterizes them, they may not…er, take naturally to such left-brain thinking. "Tey didn't get into this business to make money or analyze data," he notes. "Tey got into it to improve lives." And they can keep doing just that, even as they wrestle with the challenges that attend BlEnD IMagEs/shuttERstoCk.CoM

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