TORQ talk: How to effectively merchandise and sell sports nutrition

matt hart
TORQ founder Matt Hart

By Matt Hart, Founder of TORQ Fitness

At TORQ, we believe that the key to being a successful store and ultimately selling more product is about being honest with the customer and tailoring your advice specifically to them. You’re always going to have customers that won’t listen, wander into your store and pick up a hand full of gels because they think they’ll give them a boost or they just ‘taste nice’, but there are a lot of people who are skeptical about energy products and need to trust in you and in a brand. This will only happen if you make the effort to educate yourself so that you can help them on their journey of self-discovery. This is all about understanding the fundamentals of nutrition and applying it to them – and if you do this properly, you’ll have a customer for life.

For instance, did you know that energy products will do little to enhance performance if the cyclist is well rested, has been consuming a carbohydrate-rich diet and is exercising for less than 75 minutes at high intensity?

So, someone who exercises 2 or 3 times per week for 75 minutes or less could get away with consuming a carbohydrate-rich diet and not need to use energy products at all. That said, is their diet balanced and rich in carbohydrate? If it’s not, they may struggle to string together 3 high quality training sessions per week without the help of energy products, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they do have a carbohydrate-rich diet and therefore they can get away without using energy products during exercise.

What about their hydration? 75 minutes of high intensity exercise WILL dehydrate your customer, especially if the exercise is indoors on a turbo, involves a spinning class or is outside in the heat. Even being over-dressed in the winter will result in very high perspiration rates. Drinking water really doesn’t cut it, because it will typically cause bloating and won’t be absorbed very quickly. A little bit of knowledge about the role of electrolytes and the fact that a small amount of glucose with these electrolytes can facilitate the transport of fluid into your customer’s blood should convince them to purchase a specialist hydration product off you.

Let’s look at this same customer and consider whether they need a recovery product or not? Again, if they stick to a carbohydrate-rich diet, they won’t fundamentally need a recovery drink to perform in their next session, but it would offer them 2 potential benefits. Firstly, it would reduce the pressure of having to scruitinise their general diet, because a recovery drink immediately after exercise is particularly well timed nutrition and very effective (it makes up for a multitude of sins). Secondly, it will help them get back to ‘normal’ much more quickly than if they opt for more traditional dietary means, so if they’ve got a job to do, or have got other stuff to get on with in their life, a recovery drink might be a wise choice.

torq tastingSo, I’ve just given you an example of a person who you could say on the surface of it doesn’t need energy products, but I’ve sold them to the customer by giving them an honest education and adapting to their needs. This customer may come back in the future and ask your advice about a bigger challenge he or she has planned and then there will be a lot more products of relevance that they can put in their arsenal. For instance, your customer will benefit from using energy products like energy drinks, gels and bars for any single bout of high intensity endurance exercise over 75 minutes. They would also benefit from using energy products if the bouts of exercise were still less than 75 minutes, but on consecutive days, because the rest period between exercise sessions would not be sufficient for a ‘normal’ diet to facilitate full recovery.

Performance Nutrition isn’t a hugely complex area and some basic training will give you the educational tools necessary to give your customers straight answers and provide the products they need, which we believe will ultimately give you the loyal customers you also need – customers that when shopping for their nutrition, may also spend on other ancillary items. It’s for this reason that TORQ have an Accreditation Program so that a single member of your store staff can visit us at TORQ for a full day and learn how to prescribe honestly and effectively to customers. The staff member will have to pass an exam and on doing so, the store will be given accredited status and will be listed on TORQ’s and our distributor’s website. You’ll even get a ‘TORQ Accredited Nutrition Centre’ sticker for your store window!

If you would like any further details, drop us a line at, or call 0344 332 0852.

Torq is distributed in the UK by ZyroFisher, contactable on +44 1325 741200.