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Catering to the Vegan and Vegetarian Market

A challenge for retailers in general is finding a way to better serve their customers. But with a growing population seeking vegan and vegetarian supplements, there are special considerations retailers should keep in mind:

“Retailers must be well versed on all aspects of health and eating (i.e., low carb, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, low fat, good fat, etc.) and understand enough to be able to answer nutritional questions and make better suggestions. Asking how long the person has been living this lifestyle is important, and also asking how they are feeling is always a great place to start. Sometimes there is misinformation that can lead someone with a healthy goal or healthy way of living, down a road where they may run into problems. Most people are very happy to have information given to them that can benefit them and at the same time clarify confusion.

“This is not a fad or quick trend. Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are here to stay and you should do everything available to yourself and your staff knowledgeable about this healthy way of living.”
— Jeffrey Burke, ND, MH, host of the Staying Healthy! radio show

“I think retailers who want to appeal to the vegetarian and vegan market have to be careful listeners, careful readers and realize that the sales pitch happening in your office or aisle is only half of the information you need to provide quality products to the vegetarians and vegans who shop in your stores. They walk into your store trusting you, with complete faith, and it’s truly up to you as a store buyer and partner in their health to do your homework and offer them solid, well-vetted product choices.”
— Ryan Reisman, national product educator with Texas-based Himalayan Herbal Healthcare

“There is a paradox in vegetarian supplements—this demographic is in need of nutrients they can’t access through certain food groups, yet these food groups are often the best known sources of those nutrients. It requires resourcefulness, creativity and commitment to find alternative sources for these nutrients. There is also an interesting divide between customers who are very well-versed in nutrition and know exactly what they’re looking for, and those who are following the trends and don’t have the skill set to decipher benefits and drawbacks at the point of purchase. The advantage for retailers is that interest is high even among this second set. Capitalizing on this interest by developing educational e-mails, handouts, mini-classes, etc., can pay off. Education is key.”
— Michelle Bacarella, CSO of Utah-based Activz

“Top quality ingredients are always more expensive and whole-food supplements are more costly than laboratory isolated manufactured ones. It's an educational process and a matter of whether the shopper sees the added value we've put into these products. For our liquid Plant-Sourced Minerals, the best way to boost sales is sampling (we provide samples to our retailers). The taste will make the sale.”
— Ken Whitman, president of Texas-based Natural Vitality

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