Special edition: Bone & Joint Health

Staying flexible helped Osteo Bi-Flex stay on top, exec says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Staying flexible helped Osteo Bi-Flex stay on top, exec says

Related tags Marketing

Osteo Bi-flex has maintained its category-leading position by being open to embracing new ideas. That it, by staying flexible, an executive said.

John Frame, vice president of brand marketing with the brand, which is a star in the NBTY firmament, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA about the secrets of the brand’s continuing success.

“The brand has been around for 20 years now,”​ Frame said. “At Osteo Bi-Flex we wanted to stay true to ourselves and our brand as a leader as well as stay true to our consumers.”

First to market is no guarantee

Frame said the brand was in a first-market position, and as any product marketer will tell you, that’s a priceless attribute to have. Being first to market will almost guarantee a product a lion’s share-sized slice of the pie, but just being first won’t guarantee you can stay there, Frame said. The company has been willing to extend the brand to cover new ingredients as they become better supported with science.

“Osteo Bi-Flex had a patented formula based on glucosamine back in the ’90s that helped launch this category.  The category was built on the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin, and our Triple Strength product is still based on glucosamine,”​ he said.

“But as the category continues to innovate and advance, we have moved with it, and we came out with our Osteo Bi-Flex Ease, which brings advantages of a smaller pill.”

The Ease product contains no glucosamine or chondroitin, but rather is based on UC-II Collagen and JointShield, which is the brand’s proprietary 5-Loxin Boswellia serrata​ extract. The key molecule in the extract is a boswellic acid called AKBA (acetyle-11-keto-beta boswellic acid). This ingredient has inflammation-quenching properties via an enzymatic reaction. Osteo Bi-Flex also sells products based on turmeric, MSM and offers a ‘PM’ product with melatonin to help consumers whose joint discomfort has been keeping them up at night.  In all cases, Frame said the company chooses ingredients based on effects that can be demonstrated in the scientific literature.

“Our consumers can trust what we put in our products and what we say on the packages. We are not trying to sell dreams; we are trying to sell products that work,”​ he said.

Cannibalizing sales?

One question that often arises when building out a brand is how much is enough?  Is the goal to completely dominate a sector of shelf space with every possible product, or is it better to have a few products with greater consumer allegiance and perhaps more focused benefits?  Is there a danger with bring out line extensions that you will merely cannibalize your own sales?  Why acknowledging that conundrum, Frame said he’s confident the brand has hit upon the right formula.

“Innovation is really about bringing new people into the product line. It helps give people a point of entry to the category, people who might be put off by things like large pills,”​ Frame said.

“It’s staying on top of what is top of mind with consumers, what’s in the news. Turmeric for example is a great ingredient and it is definitely in consumers’ minds now,” ​Frame said.

Bone & joint health 16

Bone & Joint Health

Frame will participate in a online brand panel discussion with Susan Mitmesser, chief scientific officer of NBTY, Neil Levin, senior education manager of NOW Foods and Rory Lipsky, marketing director of Jarrow Formulas at the upcoming NutraIngredients-USA Bone & Joint Health Online Event on June 29. For more information and to register for this FREE online event hosted by NutraIngredients-USA, please click HERE​.

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