Part 7: The Alternatives & Substitutes Explosion and How it Affects Health Brands

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Consumers have more options than they know what to do with. And with the alternatives and substitutes explosion here to stay, the question we need to ask is “How do health brands break through the marketing clutter?” 

Today’s empowered health consumers have more options than ever before. And they’re not afraid to use them, especially when it comes to their health.

Since the barrier to entry for all industries has all but disappeared, no business is safe. Between e-commerce options and direct-to-consumer channels, a start-up can open and have a few hundred customers within a week.

The key is not in understanding how a business will change, but in deciphering the core reasons competition will skyrocket.One of the key drivers?

Alternatives and substitutes.

Very few companies have a complete monopoly on any market. And even fewer companies have a large (and loyal) following.

With food contamination and studies revealing the harmful effects that once thought of harmless foods are causing, only 33% of consumers trust food manufacturers

An overall distrust of food production is pushing consumers to prefer farm-fresh over low-cost. And with the internet at their disposal, it has become far easier for consumers to find the healthy alternatives they want.

There are three fundamental ways you can expect substitutes and alternatives to redefine consumer demands. 

    1. Greater Access to Fringe Product

Consumers are actively seeking what’s not in the mainstream.

The increase in consumer skepticism coupled with the power of the internet has sparked an interest in fringe products. Consumers are moving away from what “everyone” is using, to what will effectively work for them. Direct response marketing has a significant part to play, especially when it comes to the $125 billion nutraceuticals industry.

Through the use of video sales letters and direct marketing strategies, health brands have ushered in a new era that is attracting the informed health consumer in droves. 

When it comes to their health, consumers are not resistant to pay more in exchange for quality and effectiveness.

    2. Increased Preference for Personalized Options

Consumers want options that fit their lifestyle.

Mass marketing is a thing of the past. 42% of consumers expect to have control over how brands interact and market to them. Factor in the rise of food allergies and dietary restrictions, meeting the consumer where they are and satisfying the preferences they have is why substitutes and alternatives have gained incredible traction. 

The organic food market alone has exploded over the past decade to a $47.9 billion a year industry. And for good reason. It offers consumers a healthier, albeit more expensive, alternative that goes against “mainstream”.

    3. The Growth Trend in Direct-to-Consumer Brands

Consumers want the control to shape their buying experience.

With 38% of consumers preferring interest-related products, direct-to-consumer brands have an instant advantage. 

But it is those companies that can intrigue the consumer while offering customized products that will dominate. A recent Deloitte study found that 48% of shoppers are willing to wait for a customized product rather than buy a readily-available mass-produced option.

New Innovation Meets Direct Response

With consumer demands and preferences rapidly changing, now is an exciting time for innovative businesses to flood the market. Especially as consumers develop a high preference for direct-to-consumer brands over the next five years.

By leveraging the power of the internet, new startups will be able to immediately compete on an almost equal footing with well-established companies. The differentiator will be who leverages the most relevant marketing to master the art of the sale.

Then the focus will become not what you sell but, instead, how you sell. With 20+ years in the direct marketing space, I can tell you that the “how” is a science worth studying.