Give yourselves a sporting chance this summer!

Robert Taylor – vice president at Vitabiotics and HFMA Council member – urges health food retailers to make the most of the opportunity presented by this summer’s London Olympic Games

With the London 2012 Olympic Games just around the corner, there are huge opportunities for health retailers and businesses to capitalise on what will be the biggest UK sporting event in our lifetimes.  The UK will be a magnet for millions of national and international visitors for the duration of the games and retailers will be among the first to benefit from the massive spending power.  But how can health retailers take full advantage of the Games in their own communities?

“Legacy benefits” of hosting the Games were at the heart of London’s original bid – to deliver nationwide objectives in the form of economic, social and health benefits for the UK.  With a commitment to help at least two million more people in England lead a more active lifestyle in 2012, the unique and distinguishing feature of this Olympic Games has been the emphasis on the effects of physical activity and sports participation on the wellbeing of the population

In the run up to the Olympics, there is a unique opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to engage with new and existing customers to promote sports and health products.  Highlighting specific sports-related health products is essential so imaginative sports themed window displays provide an ideal starting point, showcasing what’s on offer to support active lifestyles.  The Games are inspiring so capitalise on this with displays and promotions in-store or special events and evenings aimed to motivate and encourage consumers to get involved in sports or fitness.  Perhaps see if a local Olympic hopeful will do a store visit.  The key is to remember that health products and supplements are no longer niche products that only target professional athletes and ripped bodybuilders.  They are increasingly popular among your mainstream customers seeking to improve their physical health.  It’s therefore recreational and lifestyle users that can continue to drive growth in this market, even after the Olympic show is over.

It’s equally important for retailers to maintain a high level of technical knowledge regarding the sports products which they carry.  In some cases, you may be required to reassure customers that the sports vitamins, supplements and whey protein formulations that you stock to help support individual training programmes, are suitable for use by athletes and do not contravene any rules in sport on testing or banned substances.

With obesity on the rise, the Olympics also stand as a rare opportunity to motivate the nation, especially young people, to try new activities and sports.  The Youth Sport Trust Young Ambassadors programme is a movement of inspirational young people who encourage other young people to take up sport and physical activity.  Central to the programme is the principle that young people can drive opportunity, engagement and change for all young people to be involved in sport. They are selected as role models by their schools and School Sport Partnerships and share the Olympic Values by organising workshops, assemblies, practical sessions and informative talks.  See if there are any Ambassadors in your area and if not, team up with local gyms and together, start encouraging and supporting schools and communities to nominate young people for the role.

At Vitabiotics, we’ve embraced this with the launch of Team Vitabiotics, supporting some of the UK’s top Olympic hopefuls including triple jumper Nadia Williams, long jumper JJ Jegede and hammer throwers Mark Dry and Sophie Hitchon while also introducing Wellman Optimuscle Whey Protein formulations into the Vitabiotics range.

There is no doubt that the London 2012 Games are a unique, once-in-a-lifetime national event, and health retailers and manufacturers can and should make the most of the opportunities that hosting them will bring.  Take at look at your existing sports range and plan how to expand and make the most of showcasing it in store.  There is still time for retailers to tap into and capitalise on the Olympics with the right in-store promotions, sampling and displays which inspire and encourage consumers to take an interest in their own health, while promoting the importance of an active lifestyle.

Take Away Points:

  • There is still time for retailers to tap into and capitalise on the Olympics.
  • Imaginative sports themed window displays, promotions in-store and special events and evenings are ideal starting points.
  • It’s essential for retailers to maintain a high level of technical knowledge regarding the sports products they have in-store.

Robert Taylor is vice president/marketing director at Vitabiotics and an HFMA Council member. An edited version of this article appears in the HFMA Bulletin page in the June issue of Natural Products magazine