CI.N checks in on the health of the nutrition market, receiving best practice insight from those helping
to shape the sector on how retailers can maximise return on stocking and selling their products…
Science in Sport (SiS)
Founded in 1992, Science in Sport (SiS) has long prided itself on its research and nutritional expertise in unlocking optimal performance for professional athletes and sports enthusiasts alike.
One example of this is the brand’s Beta Fuel, a high-level carb energy drink which is still isotonic, developed closely with Team Sky (now INEOS) and trialled at the 2018 Giro. Another highlight of the brand’s range is its GO Isotonic Energy Gel, which can be regularly seen in use across the pro peloton amongst both sponsored and nonsponsored teams.
Ashley Read, SiS Managing Director, believes sampling is key to the brand’s marketing strategy: “Getting brand in hand at the moment of need, whether it’s pre-race fuelling or post-ride recovery, is critically important and underpins the importance of event sampling as a key pillar within our marketing strategy,” he says. “That said, educating new consumers on the how, why and when of our range is fundamental. We therefore look to our extensive programme of event partners around the world as the main vehicle to take athletes on that journey, providing them with nutritional advice and support in lead up to an event, then provide our range on the day to ensure they have the best possible experience whilst using SiS products.”
SiS offers monthly promotions through Madison for retailers to take advantage of, providing the opportunity to be competitive with online pricing, and with no margin hit for the dealer.
“Nutrition is heavily traded online both across our area and protein products, so to successfully trade in this environment we need to have an engaging customer offer and be placed in a high footfall area of the store to encourage the add-on purchase,” Read continues. “We have a range of POS available to support through Madison, as well as the offer sheet holders and refreshed graphics relating to each promotion.”
With last year’s sales a fifty-fifty split between bricks and mortar stores and online, Read emphasises the importance of sampling and education evenings in certain stores to engage local communities.
“Online platforms are great for giving customers a uniformed view of the brand, with campaign branding and educational infographics. However, we firmly believe there is no better way of marketing your products than to have a fully stocked POS unit and an engaged and knowledgeable member of store staff talking you through the options available to best fuel your training plan or sportive.”
Working with the likes of INEOS and the England Women’s Football teams, SiS recently launched what Read deems “a world-first” initiative called Performance Solutions; a sports research and nutrition service designed to elevate elite teams and athletes to the next level of performance. The brand is keeping busy, Read says, and will also be releasing 10 new products, ranges and line extensions to market this year.
Listen to SiS brand ambassador, 11-time world champion and six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, on this episode of the CI.N Podcast.
With its roots firmly entrenched in fitness consultancy, performance coaching and endurance sport, TORQ is a research-driven brand which uses only the ‘purest, potent natural ingredients’ within its products. Where possible, TORQ products are certified Organic by the Soil Association, or carry the Fairtrade mark, and are all made in the UK.
It is this, and the brand’s flavour profile, which diversifies it within the industry according to Adrian Davison, Senior Brand Manager at ZyroFisher, and Richard Samuels, TORQ’s Sales Director.
“We steadfastly refuse to use anything artificial in any of our products, so our messaging is consistent,” they explain. “Other brands have a ‘natural’ range, but all of our products fall into this category. As an example, the market need for more organic and vegan product lead us to update our TORQ Energy bar range late last year, and we relaunched them at CoreBIKE with great success.”
The pair also identify the growing importance of taste within the nutrition market: “The introduction of the TORQ Explore range in 2019 illustrated our desire to meet emerging market trends – where taste and texture were becoming more of a requirement than outright performance – while also capturing the outdoor enthusiasts who are not always so performance-driven but want healthy, nutritious and delicious alternatives to confectionary.”
The brand runs TORQ Accreditation Days for retailers to learn how to communicate this effectively to clients, and to develop a comprehensive understanding of all the brand’s products and where they fit into an athlete’s diet. Once retailers pass an exam, they become a TORQ Accredited Nutrition Centre with the brand’s backing and access to sports science specialists to discuss any issues or scenarios that may be encountered.
“For those retailers attending TORQ Accreditation days, the feedback afterwards has never been anything less than 100% positive,” say Davison and Samuels. “We also encourage retailer interaction within the sessions, as it is vital that the information being explained can be utilised on the shop floor.”
According to them, the best techniques for bike shops to sell TORQ products is through a combination of retailer confidence and sampling. “Branding and packing is key in a retail environment – shops only have a finite amount of space so we strive to ensure that our brand has its own identity and can be merchandised comprehensively,” Davison and Samuels add. “Just giving away free items is not true sampling in our eyes. Sampling should be, where possible, done in the store with the customer – trying some gel on a spoon, cutting up a bar and handing it round, sampling sachets of drink powder in shot glasses. This is what TORQ has been doing at events for over two decades.”
Looking forwards, TORQ is working on a number of projects to expand its offering into a wider market while finding new channels for existing lines, and is also working on solutions for compostable packaging in response to demand.
Listen to TORQ Founder Matt Hart discuss the ins and outs of the brand on this episode of the CI.N podcast.
This nutrition brand was initially born out of its sister company, Named, one of the leading brands in Italian pharmacy with a wide range of health supplements. Since its foundation, NamedSport has made a point out of maximising its visibility, becoming the official sponsor of all three Grand Tours for the next five years, among other races, as well as working with a number of professional teams through sponsorship and product development.
While this sponsorship element is important, there are other arrows to NamedSport’s marketing bow, says Managing Director David Hannah: “We are present at each event sampling goods that increase brand awareness and support our retailers. This is our major marketing cost as we feel the sport portrays many of the elements required to promote a healthy outdoor lifestyle.
“Together with this, we provide retailers with display units, single serve samples and information booklets to pass on to customers, which they can get free through our wholesaler, Raleigh.”
But it’s not enough to simply provide these materials, Hannah offers, but to also help shops focus on how to maximise their in-store display and diversify their nutrition product offering.
“In-store display can be improved,” he states. “Many stores stick a few boxes here and there, so the consumer is not interested. I would try to focus on a small area in store and integrate sampling product into the bike service or store purchases with linked promotion to drive sales. Store visits tend to be infrequent so many nutritional product purchases are spur of the moment, focusing on gels and bars.
“The NamedSport gym range has some of the best protein products on the market so maybe the cycling ranges in store will develop from just gels and bars. Protein also benefits from a higher retail return with the average selling price of £29 per 900g pack.”
Somewhat bucking the trend towards increased online retailing, NamedSport currently sells very little online. “We believe that the inevitable price erosion does not help our retailers or brand,” Hannah explains. “That is not to say online is not relevant. Some of the retailers we do work with have shown that you can offer quality products without crashing the market for everyone else.
“The economic future for retail does look bleak at present and online is developing rapidly. We have a few ideas we are working on to benefit both channels.”
The brand has an upcoming launch planned for its Tour de France campaign, and has extended its Total Energy Fruit Bars that feature natural fruits with an edible rice paper covering to avoid sticky fingers. NamedSport has also released a small range of energy gel alternatives as resealable RTDs.
Putting a tick in two boxes – taste and functionality – was one of the fundamental reasons for establishing OTE in 2012, offers Max Dillon, the brand’s Head of Sales.
“Over the past seven years we’ve been playing the ‘long game’ if you will,” he explains. “Making sure we have firmly established our roots in the industry before we try to grow too fast. We never wanted to just be a flash in the pan. We came in as a challenger to the industry to the bigger brands and still like to see ourselves as that now.”
OTE has since developed three tiers of ranges with products to cater for all abilities, starting at the brand’s Anytime range as an introduction to sports nutrition up to the Super range for those wanting to leave no stone unturned in their sporting performance.
“We believe sports nutrition doesn’t have to be elitist, but with that we have a duty to educate people about how best to use products and about nutrition for sporting performance as a whole.,” Dillon continues. “We’re a brand with a face, personality and passion. The people you see in our marketing and at events are the people you’ll pick up the phone to in the office. We want to interact with our community; customers and IBDs, and we want to be honest and inclusive with our products and the ways in which we market them.”
Sponsoring teams and athletes is also an important part of OTE’s marketing strategy, Dillon says. “Having the backing of athletes and teams is hugely important for us. To have the seal of approval from those competing at the highest level in the world adds valuable credibility to our products. Also, the feedback we receive from these athletes and team staff is constantly shaping our product development.”
Branching out from a cycling-only focus has also allowed the brand to reach a new customer pool. “Certainly our partnerships with British Triathlon and the Brownlee Brothers have been impactful for us,” Dillon confirms. “Historically we were very cycling-focused, but these partnerships have naturally introduced the brand to a whole new audience.”
According to Dillon, being adaptable and finding the right marketing tool for each shop is vital. “For OTE, spending time listening to our retailers about their specific store layouts and target audience helps us tailor our approach. It’s important to remember that most IBDs are very different.
“We also like to work with shops to market our products through inhouse nutrition evenings, sampling sessions and OTE-fuelled ride outs, whilst also providing staff training on the range.”
Looking towards 2020, OTE is working on extending its global distribution network in response to demand from overseas, moving into what the brand sees as ‘chapter two’.