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Swisse Wellness on US sports nutrition sector: ‘We think there’s an opportunity in this space to make a big impact’

By Stephen DANIELLS , 24-Apr-2014
Last updated on 28-Apr-2014 at 23:26 GMT

Swisse Wellness on US sports nutrition sector: ‘We think there’s an opportunity in this space to make a big impact’

Changing consumer attitudes to health and similar consumption levels in the US and Australia give Swisse Wellness an opportunity to excite consumers with a new sports nutrition range that is not just focused on the muscle men and gym junkies, says Ulrich Irgens, Executive Vice President of Swisse Americas.

“With the ever increasing rate of obesity, individuals are looking for healthy measures to aid them in improving their lifestyles – protein supplements combined with an exercise program is one key measure,” Irgens told us. “Swisse sees this as an opportunity to offer our product, which appeals to the average, health-conscious individual. “

Fast growth

Swisse Wellness is the fastest growing OTC company in the world in the last five years, and the dominant brand in Australia’s buoyant supplements market. The company entered the US market last year with 15 products available in retailers such as Wallgreens and CVS, with another 15 to be launched this year.

Among those products will be the Swisse Active Range, which the company describes as, “a premium quality sports nutrition range designed for everyday men and women who lead busy, active lifestyles.” 

“The Swisse Active range is enriched with key amino acids and minerals including magnesium, L-carnitine, L-glutamine and also Co-Q10,” explained Irgens,

“There’s no secret ‘fat burning super ingredient’ in our formulations, just premium quality ingredients including our blend of whey protein concentrate and isolate enriched with amino acids.

“The ingredients found in all Swisse products are those based on scientific research and traditional evidence, the Swisse Active range is no different.”

Consumer evolution

According to a 2013 report by market researcher Packaged Facts , the two main categories in the US sports nutrition sector are nutrition bars (energy, diet, sports, high-carb, high-protein, low-calorie and balanced nutrition bars) and sports drinks, said the report. US retail sales of sports drinks were estimated to reach $7.4bn in 2013 (up 6% vs 2012) and could be worth $9.3bn by 2017, said the report. The growth in nutritional bars is even faster, it added, with sales expected to reach $2.6bn last year (+14% vs 2012) and approach $3.9bn by 2017.

“While our range includes premium quality ingredients that can compete against other similar products, we have placed significant focus on taste." - Ulrich Irgens, Swisse Americas

The report concluded that sports nutrition marketers should spend more time targeting women, weekend warriors and consumers pursuing individual sports and fitness activities from yoga to walking.

And this evolution of the sports nutrition consumer has definitely influenced product design for Swisse, said Irgens. “This is the core to our range to go after that new, everyday lifestyle segment,” he said. “While our range includes premium quality ingredients that can compete against other similar products, we have placed significant focus on taste. Many protein bars can be too chewy and sometimes even have an unpleasant taste. We know our audience wants a high quality product but one that tastes great too. You can literally snack on the Swisse Active bars they taste so good, you’ll always see someone in our office after a workout eating one.” 

The new Swisse range includes protein powders, protein bars, low-carb protein bars and amino acids in a range of sizes, said Irgens, and the products will be distributed in similar channels to its vitamins and dietary supplements..

“We think there’s an opportunity in this space to make a big impact,” he added.

Testing in Australia…

The range is already established in Australia and Irgens said that very little has changed from the Australian range to what consumer should expect here in the USA. “We’ve refined the range to remove and introduce some new flavors. From our (and our US consumer’s perspective), it’s great to test the brand in Australia first to see what we feel will work for the US market. Consumers here in the US can rest assured that they’ll only get the best products!”

Quality is a word that comes up time and again in all conversations with Swisse, and with the sports nutrition category often blighted by controversial products in the pre-workout category adhering to strict quality standards is vital.

“Swisse adheres to some of the most rigid quality standards in the world because of our history in vitamins and the strict Australian regulations. This commitment to quality ensures our customers know exactly what they are getting wherever in the world they are buying a Swisse product. This is very important for us and key to building and maintaining trust in all of our products.”

The company has not committed to a third party certificate at this stage, but this is something it will continue to consider as it becomes more involved in professional sport, said Irgens.

The products will all be manufactured in the US, he added. “We feel it’s important to support the local market we operate within, not only does it create jobs, it reduces our carbon footprint by reducing freight.”

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