LifeVantage returns to Protandim roots to reinvigorate growth

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Aajan
©Getty Images - Aajan

Related tags ashwagandha Bacopa Bacopa monnieri MLM Network marketing

Network marketing company LifeVantage is planning to refocus on a foundational product as part of a personalization strategy in an attempt to arrest a soft spot in revenues.

LifeVantage was founded in 2003 in Salt Lake City, UT, based on a single product, called Protandim Nrf2 Synergizer.  The product is a blend of five botanicals: Bacopa extract 150 mg; milk thistle 225 mg; ashwagandha 150 mg; green tea 75 mg; and turmeric 75 mg.  

Endorsement from Utah superstar

Early on, the product and the company benefited from a high profile endorsement from entertainer Donny Osmond that culminated with an appearance in 2011 on the Dr Phil Show in which Osmond called the product his ‘fountain of youth.’

The results of the company’s own research on the product have been a bit less over the top. In 2016 the company conducted a placebo controlled trial with 38 overall participants (35 of whom completed the study) on the effects of Protandim on running times over a 5 kilometer distance and measures of oxidative stress.  The researchers found that after three months of supplementation Protandim did not make runners go faster, nor did it affect any of the oxidative stress endpoints​, except for one measure in a small subgroup of participants younger than 35.

A study conducted in 2016 by the National Institutes of Health done in mice did show Protandim extended lifespan​, but in male mice only.  Earlier a 2012 in vitro tissue study suggested the product might have benefits in endothelial health​.  The company claims to have more than 30 studies backing its products.

Despite the mixed results, the product has enjoyed enduring popularity within the company’s customer and distributor base, and CEO Steve Fife said it’s time for LifeVantage to return to its fundamentals in order to arrest a soft spot in the company’s financial results.

Fife said the company is, “Firmly aligned around our renewed focus on Protandim Nrf2 Synergizer as our core foundational product and key point of differentiation.”

Personalization strategy

The plan is to use Protandim as the basis for a new set of personalized product offerings, which the company is referring to ‘activation stacks.’  The stacks will be offered to new and existing customers based on the results of a questionnaire that distributors will administer.

“We define an activation stack as a bundle of products that are grouped together to provide a targeted solution to the end consumer,”​ Fife said. Fife made his comments as part of an earnings call with analysts posted in transcript form on the site​.

The company reported a 5.8% decline year over year decline in revenues in the Americas, which is the company’s biggest market. The number of active customer accounts declined by 9.4%.

Overall the company brought in $53.2 million which was a 2.9% decline from a year previously.  The soft Americas performance was cushioned by stronger sales in Asia/Pacific and in Europe.  Sales were up in all of the company’s markets within these regions with the exception of Japan, were sales fell more than 1% on a constant currency basis.  The company opened a new market in the Asia/Pacific region this quarter with the addition of The Philippines.

LifeVantage first broke the $200 million annual revenue barrier in its fiscal year 2016, and brought in $230 million last year.  The company has projected revenues of $225 million to $235 million for its fiscal 2020.

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