The announcement came several months after The Vitamin Shoppe Q3 earnings call, where it announced that it is rebranding itself and revamping existing stores into ‘wellness locations,’ with in-store beverage bars and sampling counters, and not long before it's Q4 earnings call, which revealed store sales declines and a big drop in its contract manufacturing arm as the company continues to work on controlling costs and launching a new store concept.
"As we shift our focus from pills and powders to a broader view of holistic solutions, we know our customers look to our Health Enthusiasts for both inspiration and solutions for their individual wellness journeys," said Colin Watts, Chief Heath Enthusiast & Chief Executive Officer, The Vitamin Shoppe, in a press release about the new collaboration.
"We are excited to partner with Dr. Low Dog to elevate the expertise of our Health Enthusiasts to Wellness Trainers, a first in our industry, to deliver the highest level of expertise and make a difference in customers' lives," he added.
Making employees part of the consumer education effort
As Chief Wellbeing Enthusiast, Dr. Low Dog will develop content tools for online shoppers in the form of videos and podcasts, as well as training material for the ‘Health Enthusiasts’—the company’s word for its in-store employees—in an effort to better serve shoppers looking for a holistic, healthy lifestyle.
There are about 6,000 Health Enthusiasts at Vitamin Shoppe’s brick-and-mortar locations, a sizable force to train, especially in a time when supplement retailers are under scrutiny for their ability to provide educated recommendations. Not long before Vitamin Shoppe’s announcement, news outlets picked up a study published in Pediatrics, where researchers pretended to be 15-year-olds trying to purchase creatine, a supplement that has been discouraged for adolescent consumption by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In response to media headlines, the trade association Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) urged retailers to be part of the education effort. “Retailers can be an important resource for consumers when it comes to making health decisions, and so we urge retailers to be part of the efforts to educate consumers on smart dietary supplement use,” CRN president and CEO Steve Mister said.
While declining to comment on the details of how much is invested for these employee education efforts as well as what the curriculum will entail, a Vitamin Shoppe spokesperson told NutraIngredients-USA that the company is “invested in supporting the continued education of our 6,000 Health Enthusiasts that touches millions of customers each year,” and that “all [in-store employees] will have access to the training.”