Supplement sales are better than ever. The 2020 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements found that nearly three-quarters of Americans report taking dietary supplements. As sales increase, values-based shopping takes on a whole new importance. It’s been evident for some time that legacy brands benefit from consumer trust; their story is generally well-known and many have a reputation for high, consistent quality. Increasingly, the value of transparency is a key decision factor. It is an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves, and provides an opportunity for in-store education and customer engagement—if done well.

In a recent survey among supplement consumers conducted by Trust Transparency Center’s ITC Insights, 67% of respondents said transparency influences their purchase decision. TTC looked very specifically at nine transparency signals in its ITC Insights 2020 Supplement Consumer Report. These areas, focusing on “brand” signals of transparency, involved label information, quality seals, contact information, supplier information, 3rd-party testing information, country of origin, and the use of and information contained in QR codes.

The top 5 transparency signals TTC discovered:
  • The brand has a quality seal on the label—38%
  • Ingredient supplier information was provided on label/website—30%
  • Label claims were believable, with references—27%
  • The brand’s contact information on the label—26%
  • 3rd-party lab testing data or lab contact information on its website—24%
This information backs the use of meaningful quality seals, and illustrates that consumers expect more info than is traditionally readily available. This is a huge opportunity for in-store engagement and a dialogue about the brand and its practices.

Natural product retailers are natural gatekeepers Retailers are in a key position to vet the brands they carry. All of the transparency signals in this survey are areas retailers can demand information on from the brands they carry. Four factors to consider:
  1. Quality Check: When evaluating product offerings, look at labels to see if there’s a meaningful quality seal. Quality seals can be difficult for some brands because there’s often a fee involved, so if there’s no seal, check if there’s information about the brand’s quality process available.
  2. Contact Information: When evaluating a new brand to bring in store, take time to try the contact info on the label to make sure it works. Ask your brands for the contact information for their suppliers if it’s not readily available, as consumers want to know where and how their products are made.
  3. Believability: Supplements are regulated by FDA under DSHEA and label claim guidelines are clear. If label claims sound too good to be true, they probably are.
  4. Testing: Ask about the brand’s testing methods. Does it use third-party and/or validated testing methods? This will become even more important with Amazon’s new requirements that a certificate of analysis and validated testing methods be provided to list a product on the site.
The need for transparency is clear, and it’s smart business—a 2020 study found that transparency can incrementally increase a consumer’s probability of purchase by 6.40% and 45.85%. Transparency is not optional. Make it a part of your daily business practice.