How to Differentiate Your Weight Loss Products from Big Box Stores
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
It can be difficult to compete with the price of weight loss products at big box stores. However, this 7-step plan will help you level the playing field so you can sell more products while providing added value for your weight loss patients.
Based upon the latest research by MarketResearch.com, meal replacements and over the counter appetite suppressants had combines sales of $5.4 billion in 2021 and are forecast to grow by less than 1 percent in 2022. The research indicated that these sales largely escaped the effects of the pandemic due to their availability at grocery and convenience stores, MLM channels and other online avenues that remained open throughout the pandemic.1 So, what does this mean for weight loss product sales at your practice? It depends on whether or not you embrace the following steps so you can stand out in this competitive market. If you do, the positive rewards for you and your patients are many.
1. Research Your Competition Through the Eyes of Your Patients
In many respects, your patients hold the answers to most of your marketing and sales questions. So, it pays to view your business through their eyes as well as listen intently to what they want or need that they may be seeking from your competitors. You can also use this opportunity to correct misinformation and re-direct them to a better alternative within your practice. For example, a patient may mention the desire to purchase of a less expensive protein shake from a big box store. If you have researched such products, you can easily cite differences such as the quality of ingredients, poor macro-nutrient balance, high amount of sugar, poor taste, or misleading advertising on the package. When you know what they are purchasing and why, you can utilize your expertise to quickly and enthusiastically share why your products better support attainment of their weight loss goals — as well as why, in many instances, the other product may thwart their weight loss efforts. You are their trusted resource and can provide solid research-based recommendations for what will serve them best. This is not a defensive action. Rather, it is a disservice to your patients if you don’t share the excellent products you sell and why they are a superior choice.
Unlike big box stores, smaller businesses can be also more agile with regards to making desired changes based upon observation, research and feedback. You can keep track of your patient’s preferences and be able to not only accommodate them as appropriate, but anticipate their needs. You and your team can develop a deeper relationship with them than big box stores. You are also better positioned to solicit honest feedback periodically so be sure to ask your current and prospective patients for their opinions regarding your services, products, retail store and website/e-store. Then use this data to make positive changes and educated decisions your patients will appreciate.
2. Identify and Embrace Your Unique Value Proposition
Large retail stores can charge lower prices for their weight loss products because they can buy their products in bulk. They are usually purchasing for many locations as well which lowers their negotiated wholesale price even more. You can’t compete on price, so don’t even try. Rather, promote the value you offer — what makes you better, not cheaper than your competitor.
Your unique value proposition includes a variety of things such as your comprehensive program; personalized coaching that provides education, accountability and explanation of product use to improve outcomes; your expertise addressing not only weight loss but resolution of co-morbidities, lab interpretation, body composition analysis, behavior modification, fitness and research-based treatments; integration of appetite suppressants as appropriate; higher quality medically prescribed nutritional products; professional clinical team to address all aspects of weight loss; and even perhaps your articles, interviews, books, webinars and podcasts. These are all extremely important for long-term weight loss and cannot be provided in a big box retail environment. These are great differentiating factors that can attract the ideal patients you want to work with most.
3. Don’t Lower Your Prices
In general, people will pay more for three things: experience, exclusivity and quality. You qualify on all three levels — your experience, offering products exclusively available through medical weight loss practices and of the highest quality available. Since you cannot compete on price (nor should you want/have to), it is important to acknowledge the fact that the products you offer are more expensive for good reasons.
If you sell Robard products, you can confidently share that the products are made from the purest ingredients, are completely safe and pass the strictest independent quality certification requirements. Not only that, they taste great and support the macronutrient requirements for safe and effective weight loss.
4. Personalize Your Patient’s Experience
Big box stores tend to be impersonal. You and your team can get to know your patients personally so be sure to customize their experience in a rewarding way. Recognize them by name, acknowledge what makes them unique, and remember their preferences for scheduling, purchasing and everything in between.
Communicating effectively, helping them overcome their barriers to weight loss and showing you genuinely care makes a positive impression, improves customer satisfaction, enhances trust in you, your products and your services and promotes customer retention. It also increases the likelihood of repeat purchases, a positive review, a testimonial and referrals. A win-win for everyone.
5. Simplify Your Purchasing Process
People like it when purchasing is easy. Make product selection and purchase a breeze with some of the following suggestions:
- Onsite and online purchase capability.
- Ability to purchase/pay online and pick up curbside and/or call-ahead ordering.
- Easy grab and go purchase capability.
- Knowledgeable team that can make recommendations and assist with best product selection based upon patient preferences.
- Integrate your products as a required part of your program for better compliance and outcomes.
- Rewards and loyalty programs promote repeat sales as well.
6. Update Your Presentation
Products in big box stores can be boring and hard to find. Make sure your shelving is easy to navigate, clean and clearly labeled with product cost and benefits. Add to your presentation and their shopping experience by providing handouts/links to recipes, and product benefit summaries. Don’t be afraid to package products together for higher sales such as a two-week product supply for one of your programs or an easy to follow 14 or 21-day program that includes a variety of products. Create an easy to use handout regarding the benefits of using meal replacements. Reinforce the value of your products with an e-newsletter that simplifies their weight loss program and use of the products you sell.
7. Showcase Your Personality and Patient Success
Take every opportunity to showcase the personality of your practice and your team. Regularly share photos of your store, staff and patients (with their permission) showing them using their favorite products, highlighting their weight loss success and what they like the most about your practice, your products and your services.
While big box competitors aren’t going anywhere, when you embrace these 7 steps, you can focus more on what is best for your patients and how you and your team are uniquely qualified to help them attain the long-term weight loss success they desire and deserve.
For 45 years, Robard Corporation’s medical obesity treatment programs and products have been utilized by physicians, surgeons and hospitals across the United States to successfully treat patients living with obesity. To learn more about us and how we can help your practice and patients, visit us online at www.Robard.com.