Speaking at NutraIngredients' Sports Nutrition Summit in Amsterdam last week, Tom Morgan, senior market analyst at Lumina Intelligence, warned delegates how seriously they need to consider their online presence.
"The internet is becoming intrinsic to the shopper experience with many consumers checking reviews online before purchasing, even in a brick and mortar store," he began.
“We are entering a social media economy where the number of likes and shares your posts get is becoming ever more important and social media is becoming intrinsic to the way brands are interacting with consumers. How can we use this to our advantage?
“There’s a strong correlation between the number of reviews a product gets and the revenue at the end of the day and keeping up engagement online is more important than ever - the lowest product reviews have the highest rate of recall from the market."
According to Lumina’s insight, 4.16 is the magic number when it comes to what review score is needed to get a high engagement product.
Morgan pointed out that the more experienced markets tend to be harsher with their product reviews as they are more aware of what to look for and they know what they want.
He also noted that it simply becomes tougher to retain full marks as the number of reviewers increases.
All plant, no punch
Lumina data shows that 15% of protein powders currently on the online market are plant based and growth is strong in APAC and America. The trend is slower in Europe as the sports nutrition (SN) market in many of these countries is not as mature.
There’s been an 11% increase in the number of plant based protein powders around the world but Morgan says the average review score is low compared with the likes of whey.
He pointed out that anyone basing their purchase decision purely on reviews is therefore likely to choose an animal sourced protein.
Female sports nutrition
Noting that female SN products are not garnering high review scores, Morgan suggested the problem is the way brands are communicating with the female audience.
He said many brands are communicating in a way which suggests they’re trying to solve the problem of the woman’s body – not a positive message for the audience.
Protein World’s infamous ‘are you beach body ready?’ campaign which was plastered across underground stations in London was the epitome of the issue, Morgan said.
The argument from consumers was that the image of the half naked model was an unrealistic body goal and an outdated, perhaps sexist, message.
“The negativity went back to the brand and they actually made £2m in sales in the following two weeks due to the huge press exposure but their reputation became all about that campaign and their sales reduced every year following that.
“When we are trying to help someone achieve their goal, being negative is not conducive.”
Morgan suggested that one great way to build a female focused SN brand is by ensuring to have a strong presence online.
“Women’s Best is great at this. They concentrate on empowering the woman and showing a lot more everyday images of women working out and training in groups. It’s a much more empowering message and it follows inline with the ‘StrongNotSkinny’ hashtag.
“They also largely communicate by replying to consumers and answering concerns which is quite different to other brands who mostly communicate to put out their own messages.
“With the female audience it is better to listen, not shout.”
Lumina data also shows that women are more likely to have IBS, or be aware that they have IBS and are therefore might be more likely to be looking for products that can help with gut health issues. Therefore Morgan told delegates that SN products with added fibre and probiotics might be likely to appeal.
But this ability to ingratiate yourself into the audience is important for any niche market, according to Morgan.
He said any brands looking to appeal to those following a specific diet such as keto, paleo or vegan, need to ingratiate themselves within the community through active participation in online forums, where more and more consumers go for intel and inspiration.