Brandishing a targeted print campaign that hit readers bent on healthy living, nutritional supplement manufacturer SuperNutrition, San Francisco, posted a growth rate of more than 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 1997 vs. 30 percent for the same period in 1996.
“We have been growing in the last four years anywhere from 20 to 34 percent,” said Kathy Mooney, SuperNutrition's director of sales and marketing, “but during the campaign we had an abnormally high growth rate, hitting as high as 68 percent.”
In the fall, the company embarked on a four-month campaign that included ads in five health-related magazines, Vegetarian Times, Let's Live, Delicious!, Natural Health and Better Nutrition. The third-of-a-page ads, with the tag line “Formulas You Feel,” promoted SuperNutrition's Opti-Pack Multi-Vitamin, Perfect Blend and Women's Blend products, which combine minerals, vitamins and herbs.
The ads urged readers to call a toll-free number or mail an attached coupon for a free sample. Readers who called received a SuperNutrition product based on their answers to questions asked by the operators.
“We really tried to tailor what we were sending to the customer,” Mooney said. “For example, if a customer called in and said they never took vitamins before, we would probably send them something other than the Opti-Pack, because that product is six tablets each day.”
Readers who requested samples also were mailed product literature and a list of retailers that sell SuperNutrition products. A month into the campaign, SuperNutrition added a $3 rebate offer to the fulfillment package, encouraging people to buy another SuperNutrition product when they had finished the sample.
About 3,500 people requested SuperNutrition samples. Their names and addresses were captured in a database that may be used for future marketing efforts, Mooney said. Of the 2,200 people who received both the rebate and a sample, about 1.5 percent used the rebate.
“We are satisfied with that, considering that people had to go to the store, buy the product and mail the rebate and the receipt back to us,” she said.
Mooney said the campaign, which also included point-of-purchase displays, posters and shelf displays at health stores, boosted SuperNutrition's brand awareness, spurred more consumers to buy the product and increased its number of distributors.
“I think the exposure kind of pushed the winds of our momentum,” she said, “It added a little turbo to the back end of what we were doing.”
SuperNutrition continues to feature ads in four of the publications, although less frequently than at the height of the campaign. Let's Live, which is distributed free at General Nutrition Center (GNC) stores, was dropped, despite garnering the highest response.
“We are not an approved corporate product line for GNC. The people who responded were people who shopped at GNC, where they couldn't get our product. So we realized that the magazine wasn't the right vehicle,” said Mooney, adding that SuperNutrition soon will test distribution through Northern California GNCs before deciding on a more extensive partnership.
The sale of natural medicines, vitamins and supplements hit $5.8 billion in 1997, according to Gauger & Silva, San Francisco, the agency that created the campaign.
“The whole concept of nutrition and health is becoming much more mainstream in the media and in available literature,” Mooney said. “Also, doctors are becoming more fluent in alternative therapies.”