Are you interested in starting your own supplement company? Starting your own supplement company can be incredibly rewarding. The supplement industry is booming, and creating and selling your own brand can be extremely profitable.
That being said, it takes more than just good ideas and an interest in health, fitness, and nutrition to be successful in the supplement industry. You’ll have to choose a supplement manufacturer, create your products, choose your formats, choose your packaging, design your labels, market your products, and, finally, distribute them. And, you’ll have to be strategic every step of the way. Competition in the supplement industry is fierce.
Nevertheless, a little strategy and a lot of hard work and commitment can go a long way! If you stay committed to your brand, you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars every month with just a small investment.
Are you ready to start your own supplement company? In this article, you’ll learn how to start a supplement company in 12 easy steps from choosing a niche market and defining your brand to developing, selling, and distributing your products.
Should you start a supplement company?
Before we discuss the steps to starting your own supplement company, we should first talk about whether or not starting your own supplement company is the right decision for you. Is it a good idea for you to start your own supplement company? There are few better ways to evaluate a decision than by weighing the pros and cons.
- The supplement industry is booming. Demand is incredibly high, the supplement market is huge, and growth is on the horizon. According to GlobeNewswire, the global dietary supplements market size is projected to reach USD 230.73 billion by 2027, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.2% from 2020 to 2027.
- Starting your own supplement company is rather cheap. It doesn’t cost much money to create a website for your supplement business, and it doesn’t cost much money to create supplements either. If you start your business online, you can start your own supplement company with as little as $5,000, although it will be a bit easier with $10,000. Still, compared to other business ventures, $10,000 is a very small investment.
- You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to create a new supplement formula to start your own company. Of course, you can create your own formulas, but you can also make money by selling simple single-ingredient supplements. All you really need is a clever brand and marketing strategy.
- Your supplement manufacturer will help you with formulas, formats, supplement packaging, and even supplement label design. Supplement manufacturers can be extremely helpful! You just have to make sure you’re choosing the right one.
- Starting your own supplement company can be fun, rewarding, and profitable! You get to be creative, you get to help people feel good, and you can make tens of thousands of dollars every month.
- You will have to invest some money. $5,000 – $10,000 is not much compared to other business ventures, but it’s still $5,000 – $10,000.
- You will likely work more than 40 hours per week in the beginning. There’s a lot of work that goes into starting any business, and starting a supplement business is no exception.
- It may take a while before you see any return on your investment. As mentioned, it takes a lot of work to start your own company. It could take 6 months or longer to get the business up and running and make your first sale.
- There are a lot of laws regarding manufacturing and selling supplements, and not all supplement manufacturers follow them. That’s why, if you want to start your own supplement company, it’s a good idea to get familiar with all of the laws yourself or to hire an attorney to do it for you.
Are you still interested in starting your own supplement company? Here’s how to do it in 12 easy steps!
1. Identify your target audience
The first step to starting a supplement company is identifying a target audience for your products.
Think of your target audience as your target customer. What kind of person would you like your product, your supplement labels, and your brand message to appeal to?
Let’s do a basic exercise. Imagine the kind of customer that would buy a supplement to improve their hair, skin, and nails. What other kinds of supplements might they buy? What kind of label design and brand messaging would appeal to this kind of customer?
Now imagine the kind of customer that would buy calcium supplements for bone health. What other kinds of supplements might this customer want to buy? What kind of label design and brand messaging would appeal to this kind of customer?
Chances are high that you imagined two totally different kinds of customers along with different labels, bottles, and brand messaging. Creating a brand that appeals to both customers would be quite difficult. In all likelihood, if you tried to appeal to both customers, your brand would be confusing and incohesive, or, worse yet, vague and generic.
The good news is, you don’t have to create a brand that appeals to both customers! The supplement industry is huge. There are plenty of niche audiences you can target and plenty of customers within each niche audience. The first key to creating a successful supplement company is choosing just one niche.
2. Evaluate your competition
Once you identify your target audience, the next step to starting a supplement company is evaluating the competition. What other brands are targeting the same niche customers as you are, and what are they doing to attract and convert customers within that niche?
There are a couple of reasons why it’s a good idea to evaluate your supplement brand’s competition. First and foremost, evaluating your competition is one of the best ways to get ideas for your own supplement business.
That being said, you shouldn’t simply copy your competition’s business model. Once you have a good idea of what they do and how they do things, you’ll want to look for ways that you can distinguish your company and your brand from theirs. What can you do differently than they do? Better yet, what can you do better?
One of the best ways to evaluate your competition and find your competitive edge is by identifying their strengths and weaknesses. If you can exceed their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses, you’ll have a strong competitive advantage.
Here are some things you’ll want to pay attention when evaluating your competition:
- Their products. What kind of products are they selling?
- Their marketing. What strategies do they use to attract and convert clients?
- Their main selling-points. How do they distinguish themselves from the competition?
- Their end-to-end customer experience. What kind of experience do they provide for their customers?
3. Brainstorm about your brand
Once you identify your target audience and have a good idea of how you plan to distinguish yourself from your competition, it’s time to put your thinking cap on! The next step to starting a supplement company is brainstorming about your brand.
Developing a brand for your supplement company can be tricky. There should be more to your brand than a name, a logo, some nice colors, and fonts. Your brand should have a personality and a story that your target audience can relate to and appreciate. Likewise, your customers should feel and recognize your brand’s story and personality each and every time they interact with your brand.
There’s no one way to develop your brand, but, in general, it’s a good idea to start with your positioning statement (what do you do and what differentiates you from your competition). Once you define your positioning statement, you can use it as a reference point to work on all other aspects of your brand.
You can use the template below from Shopify to create a positioning statement for your brand:
We offer [PRODUCT/SERVICE] for [TARGET AUDIENCE] to [*VALUE PROPOSITION]. Unlike [THE COMPETITION], we [UNIQUE SELLING POINT].
Your value proposition is simply the value you intend to deliver to your audience.
Here’s an example: “We offer all kinds of recovery supplements for fitness freaks so they can recover faster, spend more time at the gym, and meet their fitness goals faster than ever before. Unlike other recovery supplements, you can feel the effects of our supplements almost immediately.”
After you define your positioning statement, you can get to work defining and developing other aspects of your brand.
- Features, benefits, and points of sales – What are some of your brand’s most distinguishing features benefits and selling-points? Keep your unique selling point in mind.
- Brand personality and voice – If your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality? What kind of voice will your brand use to communicate with the world? Think about your target audience and what they would find appealing.
- Name your brand – Choose a name that’s both unique and easy to remember. Make sure the domain is available. You’ll want to choose a name that you can turn into a .com.
- Create a tagline – Your tagline is a short memorable description that clearly communicates what your brand does and how. Building on the example above, an appropriate tagline might be something like “Get back to the gym”.
- Logo and design – When it comes to your logo, design, and label designs, you might want to consider hiring a professional designer.
4. Create a basic marketing plan
After brainstorming about your brand, you’ll want to come up with a basic marketing and sales plan for your supplement company. How do you plan to attract and convert customers? You’ll need marketing to attract customers and move them along the buyer’s journey. Once they’re ready to buy, you’ll need some sales tactics to get them to make a purchase.
Common marketing strategies for supplement companies:
- Social Networks and Viral Marketing – Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service. One effective way to promote your products on social media is by working with influencers or people with large social media followings.
- Paid Media Advertising – Paid media advertising involves promoting your content through sponsored social media posts, display ads, paid search results, video ads, pop-ups, and other promoted multimedia. If someone searches for supplements, targeting them with ads for your supplements could be a great way to make some sales.
- Content Marketing – Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online. If your supplements are all about recovery (to follow the example used earlier), you might consider writing a lot of content about the importance of allowing the body to recover before returning to the gym.
- Email Marketing – Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message to a target audience via email. It seems simple but email marketing is extremely effective these days. If you’d like to try email marketing for your supplement company, you’ll have to start collecting emails somehow from potential customers.
- Conversational Marketing – Conversational Marketing is a method of engaging with website visitors through conversation to move them through the buyer’s journey and turn them into paying customers. Any time you see a chat box pop up on a website, the company is employing conversational marketing.
- Earned Media/PR – Earned media (or free media) refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising. If you do something good for the community and are featured in the local paper, for example, the feature article is an example of earned media. Earned media and PR can be a great way to build brand awareness.
Most supplement companies use a mix of many of the marketing strategies listed above. When you develop your marketing strategy, don’t forget to check out what your competition is doing. What are their strengths and weaknesses when marketing to their customers? Once you know their strengths and weaknesses, you can come up with a plan to do it better.
5. Choose a supplement manufacturer
Once you decide on a target audience, evaluate your competition, define your brand, and come up with a basic marketing strategy, it’s time to choose a supplement manufacturer. Choosing a supplement manufacturer is one of the most important steps to starting your own supplement company.
Your supplement manufacturer will be like your business partner, with you every step of the way to help you grow and develop your brand. So, choosing the right manufacturer could be the difference between becoming a successful supplement company and throwing in the towel early.
The best supplement manufacturers will…
- Use quality raw materials and ensure quality products.
- Offer thousands of raw materials to choose from so you can create unique and personalized formulas.
- Offer advice in terms of formulation.
- Offer multiple supplement formats and help you choose the right one for your market.
- Offer various packaging formats so you can customize your product.
- Have a team of in-house graphic designers to help you design custom labels for your brand.
- Offer advice and guidance to help you market and sell your product.
- And more!
We recently wrote a complete guide to choosing a supplement manufacturer. Click the link to learn more → How to Choose a Supplement Manufacturer | 10 easy steps
6. Create and develop your formulas
If you choose the right supplement manufacturer, the next few steps will be easy! Your supplement manufacturer will help you create and develop your formulas, decide on appropriate formats, decide on supplement packaging, and design your label. Some will even help your market and sell your product! First on the list is creating and developing your formulas.
First, you’ll have to decide the type of supplement(s) you want to create. If you’ve been researching your target audience, evaluating your competition, and developing your brand, you probably already have a good idea of the kinds of supplements you want to create. Some examples include beauty supplements, sports and fitness supplements, supplements for weight management, supplements for health and wellness, and supplements for anti-aging.
Next, you have to decide what you want each of your supplements to do. If you’ve decided to create beauty supplements, for example, you’ll have to decide exactly what kind of beauty supplements you want to create. Will you make supplements for better hair? If so, what will they do for hair? Will they make hair grow faster? Will they make hair grow thicker? You can ask these kinds of questions for each category of supplements.
Of course, you’ll also have to decide on any specifications, depending on your target market. For example, will your products be all-natural? Will they be organic? Will you sell any kosher options? What kinds of specifications might your target audience want to see?
Once you decide what kind of products you want to make, you can get to work on the fun part: choosing ingredients. Let’s stick to the hair example. Vitamins A and B cause hair growth. Vitamin C is used to make collagen which can protect hair from damage and prevent hair from aging. Vitamins D and E might help reverse hair loss. And the list goes on and on. Work together with your supplement manufacturer to decide what ingredients you want to include in your supplements and what ratios you want to include them in.
7. Decide on appropriate formats
The next step to starting your own supplement company is choosing appropriate formats for your supplements. Dietary supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, gummies, softgels, powders, liquids, and even energy bars.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when deciding on appropriate formats for your supplements. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
- “What are the most common supplement formats for the type of supplement I want to create?”
- “What is my competition doing?”
- “What supplement formats would my target market prefer?”
- “What are the pros and cons of each supplement format?”
- “Can I use supplement formats to gain a competitive edge over my competition somehow?”
Below, you’ll find basic descriptions of the most common supplement formats. You can use them to brainstorm supplement formats for your brand.
Tablets – Tablets are the most common formats of pills. They’re made by compressing one or more powdered ingredients together to form a hard, solid, smooth-coated pill that breaks down in the digestive tract.
Capsules – Capsules are supplements in powder form that are enclosed in an outer shell. The shell is then broken down in the digestive tract and the supplement is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Softgels – Softgels consist of a gelatin-based shell surrounding a liquid filling and, thus, are popular formats for liquid or oil-based supplements. Like capsules, the shell is broken down in the digestive tract, leaving the supplement to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Gummies – Gummy supplements are more popular than ever and it’s easy to see why. Gummies are arguably the tastiest of all supplement formats. They’re commonly made from gelatin, corn starch, water, sugar, and added colorings.
Liquids – Liquids are also gaining popularity as a popular choice for kids and senior citizens who have trouble swallowing bulky tablets, capsules, and softgels.
Powders – Powder supplements consist of supplements in powder form along with sweeteners and flavorers to make the supplement taste good when mixed with liquid.
As previously mentioned, the right supplement manufacturer will help you choose appropriate formats for your supplements.
8. Decide on packaging
Supplement packaging is also something you’ll have to decide on when starting your own supplement company, and choosing the right packaging is just as important as choosing the right supplement formats.
When deciding on packaging, here are some key things to consider:
- The ingredients of your supplements. Some ingredients perish easily due to air, light, different temperature, and need specific packaging.
- The supplement format you’re trying to package. Gummy vitamins, for example, are almost exclusively packaged in clear bottles and jars to display the colorful gummies inside.
- The preferences of your target market. Plastic is common and popular but may not appeal to a younger demographic that’s trying to reduce plastic waste for environmental reasons.
- The lifestyle of your target market. Moms and dads need their supplements to be in child-proof packages, and seniors need their packages to be easy to read and easy to open.
- The cost of the packaging. Customized and non-standard packaging is appealing to make your products stand out from the rest, but standard packaging is much more affordable.
9. Design your label
In the competitive industry of dietary supplements, supplement label design is extremely important. A great design can make your brand stand out from the rest and, more importantly, the right design can help you appeal to your specific niche customer, ultimately leading to increased brand loyalty and sales.
Some supplement manufacturers have experience with label design and will help you design labels and other aspects of your brand, including your logo, colors, and fonts. You can also hire your own label designer, but if you do, you’ll want to make sure the designer has experience with supplement labels. Your designer should be familiar with FDA and GMP regulations so your supplement facts and product label are compliant.
10. Create a distribution plan
Once you’ve finished creating and formulating your products, choosing formats, choosing supplement packaging, and designing your labels, it’s time to consider how you want to distribute your products in order to sell them to your customers. Do you want to sell directly to your customers? Do you want to sell them to wholesale distributors? Will you let other retailers sell your products? A good idea might be to team up with gyms and weight loss clinics, asking them to put your products on their shelves for a percentage of the profit.
A clever distribution plan for your supplement business is essential to making the most bang for your buck. Here are some key points to consider when creating a distribution plan for your supplement business:
- Where your target customers like to buy
- Where your competition is selling
- How your distribution plan might affect your brand image
- Your distribution channel options
- The effects these channels will have on your sales volumes, costs, and profit margins
Whatever distribution channel you choose, keep in mind that efficiency is extremely important. These days, customers demand quick delivery times, so it’s imperative for you to reach your target customers in a timely manner.
Some supplement manufacturers will help you with storage, kitting, assembly, shipping, and distribution of your supplements. The best supplement manufacturers will also help you maintain and manage healthy inventory levels, so you never run out of stock.
11. Refine your marketing/sales plan
Once you create a distribution plan, you’re almost ready to start selling! There’s just one final, very important step remaining. Remember the basic marketing plan you came up with in step 4? It’s time to revisit and refine your basic marketing plan.
If you’ve decided to use content marketing to your advantage, for example, you’ll have to decide what you’re going to write and how you’re going to write it. Will you write the content yourself? Will you hire a team to write for you? Will you outsource the work? It’s time to work out all of the details of the content marketing plan for your supplement company.
The same is true for all other kinds of marketing. If you’d like to try email marketing for your supplement company (a very wise decision), you’re going to have to choose what platform you’re going to use. Will it be mailchimp, aweber, sendinblue, constant contact, or one of the other email marketing service platforms on the market? Of course, you’ll also have to come up with a plan for collecting emails and a strategy for using email marketing to increase your sales.
The point is, when it comes to marketing and selling your product, there are quite a few important details to work out, and now is the time to do it.
12. Start selling!
Once you’ve completed steps 1 through 11, it’s finally time to start selling your product! Here are some helpful tips and tricks for selling your supplements:
- Collect as many reviews as possible!!! According to Spiegel Research Centre, products with reviews are 270% more likely to be bought than products without (2017). Additionally, Testimonial Engine found that 72% of consumers will wait until they’ve read reviews before taking action on a purchase.
- Focus on your unique selling point. Your unique selling point (USP) is what differentiates you from the competition. Make sure you sell using your USP so that customers aren’t tempted to look elsewhere for cheaper alternatives to your products.
- Play with your pricing and discounts. Offering discounts on supplement purchases is a way to entice customers to make a purchase. Once they try your product and are pleased with the result (and, of course, the overall experience with your brand!), they’ll be more likely to buy from you in the future, discounted or not.
- Consider providing free samples. There are two reasons why giving out free supplement samples is a good idea. 1) The need to reciprocate is a very strong, psychological instinct. If you do something for your customers, they’ll feel a surprisingly strong obligation to do something for you. 2) If you frame your samples as free gifts, they’ll feel appreciate of your brand and could potentially become loyal brand ambassadors for your supplement company.
- Optimize your Amazon account. Building your brand on Amazon and optimizing your Amazon account is one of the best ways to increase your sales. If you’re unfamiliar with Amazon marketing, it’s a good idea to choose a supplement manufacturer with experience building a brand on Amazon. You don’t want to miss out on Amazon sales.
Choosing a supplement manufacturer is one of the most important steps to building and developing a supplement brand. If you’re interested in starting your own supplement company, use these 10 easy steps to help you choose the right supplement manufacturer for you.
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