5 Surprising Tips for Communicating with Natural Supplement Shoppers

For all you marketers of dietary supplements in the natural channel, here are five personality characteristics you should know about the natural supplement shopper — and how she differs from the general population.

Through quantitative research with thousands of natural supplement shoppers, Pure Branding is able to assess the market participant personas and correlate the brand strengths that match them.

These personality characteristics are derived from our proprietary research methodology that seeks to better understand the people participating in your markets, not just their habits. Through quantitative research with thousands of natural supplement shoppers and a select set of factors leveraging the behavioral sciences — including Jungian archetypes, adult attachment theory and social values orientation — Pure Branding is able to assess the market participant personas and correlate the brand strengths that match them.

You may ask, “My products are great, I just have to tell people why, so what do I need with this personality stuff?”

It comes down to having permission to talk — not so different from the first grade, when we all had to raise our hands to speak. I remember at that age exploding with excitement and jumping in too early to answer the one question I knew the answer to. The teacher scanned the room with her “1,000-mile stare,” looking right through me as though I were invisible, seeing only the calm, patient children who raised their hands.

Natural supplement shoppers are scanning the shelves with their own 1,000-mile stare, and all the brands are making wonderful claims as to how great, potent, unique and even scientific they are, but she is looking for the one that will “raise its hand” for permission to speak to her on her terms. The one brand that reflects the virtues she holds dear based on her personality. Then she will listen to what it has to say.

Let’s learn more about her from our research. The natural supplement shopper is …

1. More Idealistic

One of the biggest differentiating factors about natural supplement shoppers is their idealism. They are much more likely than the general population to say that they are “committed to high ideals.”

This commitment runs over into their brand preferences as they also have a measurably stronger preference for brands that are run by people who are passionate about their ideals. Take, for instance, Reserveage, just awarded the Nutrition Business Journal 2012 Business Achievement Award in the Mid-Size Company Growth Category: it is actively supporting the cultural preservation of the indigenous communities who supply its cocoa products.

Tip: Inspire your participants with messages about the idealism that drives your brand. Don’t hold back — your idealism will always inspire and it’s unlikely you will alienate, because if it doesn’t resonate, the people just won’t hear what you have to say anyway. Set your intention on attracting those who are most receptive to who you authentically are. Your participants have strong beliefs and they are hungry for brands that reflect that back to them — even if they don’t exactly mirror their own.

2. More Intuitive

This is the obvious second to idealism: natural supplement shoppers are more likely to rely on intuition (theories, possibilities, the larger context) rather than solid facts when making decisions. New Chapter communicates to this trait beautifully in its “whole truth” positioning.

Tip: What this means for your communications is the science or clinicals behind your products serve as a rationalization of what the shopper is already predisposed to believe about you.

3. Less Trusting

The natural supplement shopper is less trusting than the general population. She has more distrust of institutions, like the North American food system. Her general orientation toward the world is that things are not as good as they should be. Gaia Herbs addresses this need for reassurance through its “Meet Your Herbs” traceability platform that allows participants to learn about growing, harvesting and processing of their herbs and in the process they can share in Gaia’s idealistic beliefs and values (see #1, above).

Tip: Keep in mind that your consumers might not automatically trust that your product is safe or free of things they don’t want, and you can help assure them with different signals of trust.

4. More Religious/Spiritual

Natural supplement shoppers are somewhat more likely to affiliate with religious and spiritual beliefs than the general population, such as attending religious activities regularly. However the real difference emerges at end of the statistical bell curve, where the natural supplement shopper self-defines as strongly religious/spiritual or an outspoken atheist. The natural supplement shopper has a higher incidents in each of these positions than the general population by comparison, who are more likely to attend religious services occasionally or at moderate levels — going with the flow and not taking such a strong stance. The lifestyle of the natural supplement shopper is more closely aligned with her personal beliefs. When Garden of Life launched, it was deeply connected to its founder Jordan Rubin’s spiritual beliefs and commitment to a Bible-inspired diet that closely aligned with the Christian community.

Tip: Because natural supplement shoppers tend to fall more on the heightened ends of religious/spiritual identification, tread carefully here. Focus on your idealism (#1, again) and you won’t alienate anyone.

5. More Perfectionist

Natural supplement shoppers are more perfectionistic than the general population. They are also more likely to say they are control freaks. This corroborates their preference for brands that are obsessive about quality for its own sake. Natural supplement shoppers might not be satisfied with a product that is mostly ethical or mostly allergy-free; they want the whole deal! Nordic Naturals appeals to this need in its commitment to safety, sustainability, testing and clinicals. Tip: Find out what kind of perfection your own consumers are seeking so that you can deliver it better than your competitors.

Natural supplement shoppers are an idealistic and intuitive bunch. Within this mixture, however, there are all types of people — new moms, conservative homeschoolers, environmental activists and everybody in between. Astute natural marketers know that not all natural supplement shoppers are the same, and brands can take the lead by identifying and evaluating their participants’ attitudes and usage within the context of their personality and behavioral traits.