February 01, 2017
Differentiating Yourself in the Weight Management Industry
by Bruce Abedon, Ph.D.
How direct selling companies can create winning weight management dietary supplements by using innovative, scientifically supported nutraceutical ingredients
For many people, happily indulging themselves at family gatherings and parties over the holidays is a ritual they eagerly look forward to every year. But now that the new year is upon us, many may be having regrets about that extra piece of pie they couldn’t resist, and what it has done to their waistlines.
Many consumers are now turning their attention to evidence-based healthy weight management products that can help them return to their “pre-holiday” selves. They are joined by a majority of Americans—as well as many people throughout the world—who are overweight and are seeking products and services to effectively manage their weight throughout the year, not just after the holidays.
For direct selling companies in the healthy weight management category, or considering expanding into the category, there is tremendous opportunity in formulating products that have met the following:
- had their efficacy and safety demonstrated in human clinical trial testing,
- are compliant with DSHEA regulations (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994)
- feature multiple mechanisms of action
- address related conditions
- include a comprehensive safety profile
- offer other features and benefits highly popular with consumers today.
Human Trials and Dosage Frequency
The dietary supplement landscape has changed considerably in the past few years. This is due, in part, to a heightened regulatory environment but also to increased consumer interest in evidence-based products containing ingredients that have shown significant benefits during human clinical trial testing. Gone are the days when companies could easily create winning weight management formulations just by blending tried and true, standby generic ingredients marketed primarily on their traditional use.
To be successful in today’s competitive environment, dietary supplement products often require one or more premium, clinically tested weight management ingredients that possess substantiated structure/function claims supported by clinical results. The “Gold Standard” for human clinical trial testing is the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
The most accurate weight management studies are conducted for a minimum of eight weeks, with 15-20 subjects each, who complete the trial for the treatment group and also for the placebo group. Most weight management ingredients work best when taken twice daily, but also look for ingredients that are efficacious when taken once daily, as this dosage regimen increases the attractiveness of the product for consumers. Keep in mind that most people find it difficult to comply with a program that requires three daily doses.
Regulatory compliance has always been an important issue but scrutiny has increased in recent years. Weight management ingredients can be more effectively marketed when they possess structure/function claims in accordance with DSHEA. Ensuring that proper language surrounds the claims of the ingredients is critical. It may be helpful to look for ingredients with claims that have been substantiated by an FDA law firm specializing in the dietary supplement industry.
Claim areas that resonate well with consumers include healthy weight management, satiety and appetite control, thermogenesis (the production of heat in the body) and digestive enzyme inhibition (e.g., carb control).
Multiple Mechanisms of Action
The more mechanisms a weight management finished product features, the more effective it may be in bringing about enhanced health and wellness, and the more attractive it may be to a consumer. One strategy formulators use to increase the number of mechanisms is to create a proprietary blend that combines various weight management ingredients, each featuring a different mechanism. But use of multiple ingredients may be prohibitively costly.
An alternate, often more successful, strategy is to incorporate one or two individual ingredients where each possesses multiple mechanisms of action. This multidimensional approach allows multiple mechanisms to be employed in the finished product while keeping the cost-of-goods per dose low because fewer ingredients are required.
Addressing Related Conditions
Often, the process of weight management may be accompanied by other significant physical and metabolic challenges. Superior weight management ingredients should not only contribute to a healthy weight but also help promote metabolic wellness with clinical efficacy demonstrated in other related areas such as cardiovascular health (including healthy blood lipid levels), blood sugar balance (such as supporting blood sugar levels that are already in the normal range), and joint health.
Joint health can be challenging for those who are overweight because extra weight puts added pressure on the knees during movement. Ingredients that help support healthy joint function can be added to weight management formulations to address this and increase appeal to consumers.
Comprehensive Safety Profiles
All nutraceutical ingredients used in weight management dietary supplements should possess comprehensive safety profiles and be well tolerated, which simply means that during in vivo toxicity testing and human clinical trial testing, it was shown that no adverse effects occurred when the recommended dose was taken. An added plus is if an ingredient is GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). This is achieved either through FDA GRAS-affirmation (after a review by the FDA) or by becoming self-affirmed GRAS (in which an expert panel of toxicologists reviews the available safety data and history of use of the ingredient).
GRAS status indicates the ingredient has been determined safe for human consumption at the recommended dose of the finished product. An added feature of GRAS status is that the ingredient can be used not only in dietary supplements but also in functional food and beverage products that display a nutrition facts panel. This broadens the number and type of weight management products formulators can create using the ingredient to generate additional sales.
Also important is recognizing that international markets may have differing approvals for ingredients. Utilizing ingredients that have been approved for sale in multiple countries (the more the better) can help avoid any disruption in service during an international expansion. Many premium weight management ingredients available to formulators have been registered in multiple countries, with the number of countries growing annually.
Additional Benefits in Demand by Consumers
It is also important that dietary supplements contain weight management nutraceutical ingredients featuring a number of widely desired characteristics consumers demand with increased frequency, and which have become industry-wide standards (not just for direct selling companies but the dietary supplement industry as a whole). These include non-GMO status, vegetarian, gluten-free, allergen-free, Kosher- and Halal-certified, and being a good value.
Additional characteristics are that a nutraceutical extract be manufactured using an extraction process utilizing only water or ethanol as the solvent, and that the ingredient be water soluble, which allows it to be incorporated not only in traditional capsules and tablets but also in liquid applications such as shots, beverages, stick packs, etc.
The right product formulation in the weight management category can boost and foster sales for your company. By providing what consumers are searching for in safe, efficacious and multi-functional products, you can take your company to the next level.
Bruce Abedon, Ph.D. is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Icon Group LLC, a NutraGenesis affiliate company that provides nutraceutical ingredients.