Turnkey marketing, claims support packages become point of differentiation for suppliers
A big differentiator for branded ingredients has traditionally been the science backing those specific substances. Studies on specific and well-characterized ingredients, when properly designed with appropriate endpoints, can support specific claims and give a customer peace of mind that they are both helping their consumers in the best way possible and that they will be on the right side of the fence when it comes to interacting with regulators.
But it’s no longer enough to just point to a whitepaper and say, here’s the substantiation. Customers want support on how to tell that story convincingly to their consumers.
“What we give them is a whole package,” said Karen Todd, RD, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA. Kyowa Hakko supplies a variety of branded ingredients, including Cognizin, a branded form of citicoline, Setria glutathione, Sustamine, a dipeptide form of l-alanine, l-glutamine and Pantesin, a branded form of Pantethine, which is itself a form of vitamin B5.
“It’s not just the ingredient. We have a technical support package, we provide marketing support. And we are going to help them work on their claims. Ultimately it’s their responsibility as to what claims they make, but we’ll point them in the right direction,” Todd told NutraIngredients-USA.
“A lot of companies that sell ingredients, all they have is a pretty logo. Some don’t even have the science in had to back their ingredients. We are getting new customers because they know we have the support,” she said.
Food needs vs supplement needs
German gelatin supplier Gelita is a company that straddles the food and supplement worlds. As such, it has an insight into what customers are demanding in these different realms. Lara Niemann, Gelita’s director of marketing for the Americas, said food customers are less demanding of and have less need for this kind of support than do supplement companies (Gelita is a big supplier of the gelatin used to make capsules).
“We don’t see that so much on the food side but we absolutely do on the supplement side,” she said. “They want specific help on claims, and they are demanding of support on technical points.”
Gelita’s position in the industry puts it farther down the supply chain than active ingredient suppliers. End users are understandably more concerned with what goes into the capsule than with the capsule itself. But Niemann said the entire chain is coming under increasing pressure and scrutiny, and customers are asking for help in communicating full traceability to consumers.
“Consumers have lost some trust in the industry. Customers want full traceability and they can’t demonstrate that on their own. They need that support and good suppliers will step up to the challenge. Ultimately, what they want help with is how do they cut through the clutter with their consumers? How can you show them what to believe?” Niemann said.
Telling the story of peas
Another company that straddles that food/supplement divide, though coming down more heavily in food, is World Food Processing, which was showcasing new applications for its PurisPea protein ingredient at the recent Institute of Food Technologists show in Chicago. The company was presenting pea protein in breakfast applications, which included sweetened, protein fortified instant oatmeal and high protein pancakes and muffins. Providing that kind of application help is a basic function, said president Tyler Lorenzen. But beyond that, it’s vital to be able to communicate a set of values that customers can use to talk to their consumers. Pea protein is not necessarily exciting in and of itself but can be made so with the right story, and that story has to be true, Lorenzen said.
“On the applications side we really want to challenge what’s possible. People want protein all the time and in all different kinds of applications,” he said.
“But most of our customers want to communicate to their target consumers not only the ingredients they are using but the story behind the ingredients. We are calling it our seed to solution model. We are showing what cultivation of our organic peas is doing for soil, what it is doing for family farmers. We can talk about how we are bring more organic acreage online,” he said.
“We have announced a capacity expansion for the plant that produces our pea protein. The reason is the product is meeting what people are asking for,” Lorenzen said.
One company that has gone farther in this direction than most others is Japanese supplier Taiyo International, which offers among others ingredients
Sunfiber, a fiber supplement ingredient, and Suntheanine, a branded form of l-theanine. Taiyo has taken customer support a step further by gathering all of the information on claims substantiation, on marketing, and on third party information support into one plug-and-play portal.
Scott Smith, Taiyo International’s vice president, said the company was concerned that much of this kind of support that Taiyo had gathered over the years was falling by the wayside because the personnel in their customers’ marketing departments were just too busy to hunt it down on Taiyo’s website or in the links it provided to customers. By gathering all that information in one place Smith said it will be easier for customers to find and apply it. The password-protected portal provides customers with the following information that can be shared with partners and consumers:
- Logos and other brand graphics
- Ingredient-specific research
- Structure/function language
- Articles, blogs and social media posts
- Media Coverage: radio, TV, internet and print
- Up-to-date content analytics: what’s trending and what’s resonating with target audiences.
“We have long heard from our customers that having access to such content is very beneficial to their own marketing, which only continues to grow.Over the years, however, we have found that while the content is of high value, our customers often struggle to generate their own content and/or personalize the content, and it often gets lost in the day to day activity of the marketing departments as they struggle to keep up with all of their brands,” Smith said.
“What we have done, via our portal, is to make the content as seamless, personalized and easy to use as possible, which in the end results in greater sales and consumer recognition of their products and our ingredients,” he said.