GNC seeks to boost sports market share with new technology, products

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sports nutrition, Nutrition, Gnc

GNC seeks to boost sports market share with new technology, products
Supplement retailing giant GNC has announced new product technologies and marketing initiatives to boost its penetration in the sports nutrition and active lifestyle markets.

GNC, the nation's largest specialty retailer of health, wellness and sports nutrition products, has boosted its sports performance positioning with technology tweaks and the evolution of several products in its Pro Performance line.  And in the active lifestyle sector, the company has launched a 12-week weight loss challenge called the Total Lean Challenge and Sweepstakes that offers support such weekly weight-loss management tools as well as chances to win cash prizes along the way.

Dominant player

In the sports performance sector, GNC noted that it already has 27% of the market, and the Pro Performance line is approached $300 million in annual sales.

"With these new performance technologies, we are again setting the standard in sports nutrition, even as more and more products enter this highly competitive category. Our reputation for scientific innovation and clinical validation only grows stronger and appeals to more and more athletes who want to compete at a higher level,” ​said Tom Dowd, executive vice president at GNC.

Among the technology initiatives cited by GNC are these:

  • Optimal Timing Technology which utilizes a nutrient delivery system in exclusive GNC formulas that is said to deliver the proper nutrients at the right times to help fuel muscles before, during and after workouts.
  • Nitro-Factor is what GNC bills as the industry’s first on-pack rating system that allows consumers to gauge a product's full muscle-building potential.  Products that claim to boost nitric oxide levels, whether through the inclusion of L-arginine or by other means, are generally thought to support muscle growth by boosting blood flow.
  • Products certified to be free of banned substances through a partnership with the HFL Sports Science accredited laboratory.

More in the way of whey

In addition, GNC announced line extensions in its popular whey protein line, called AMP Wheybolic Extreme 60. The new formulas include a “Ripped Formula” that adds thermogenic properties to the formula, a “Power Formula” that adds creatine and fenugreek to boost testosterone levels and a “Platinum Edition” that has higher doses of glutamine and leucine and more fast-acting hydrolysates.

The company has been launching new products in the sports nutrition realm at an accelerating pace.  In March of 2012, GNC announced the launch of the MARKED line of sports nutrition supplements in conjunction with brand ambassador, actor Mark Walberg. And more than a year and a half ago, CEO Joe Forunato had this to say:

“Body-building is a segment of the business and that connotation has lived with GNC and will always be there. But this business has accelerated and expanded broadly across all fitness categories.

“This is about anybody that participates in any sport, any activity, weekend warriors… we have products for everybody… We are the place to come for fitness. We keep being innovative, we keep bringing new products to market and consumers ​[in this space] are willing to pay for the best products in the marketplace.”

At the time of that statement, made in an analysts’ call in late 2011, GNC had 25% of the sports nutrition market, and it has boosted that share since.

The Total Lean weight loss challenge dovetails with a line of products with the same name, Dowd said. These include meal replacement shakes, snacks and thermogenic supplements.  The program also includes in-home video support and online forums to help; consumers meet their weight loss goals.

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