In today’s society, interest in lifestyle and wellness is growing steadily. One of the fastest-growing sectors is the trade in food supplements, which has seen considerable growth in recent years. In 2018, in Italy alone, the supplement market reached €3.3 billion (source: FederSalus), and during the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for supplements grew significantly, thanks to increased health awareness and interest in boosting the immune system.
This scenario has prompted more and more entrepreneurs to consider starting a business in the dietary supplement sector. But how to succeed in this fast-moving market?
- What is a Food Supplement?
- What are Food Supplements for?
- What You Need to Create Your Own Food Supplement Brand
- Effective Strategies for Selling Supplements Online
What is a Food Supplement?
According to current food legislation (European Union Directive 2002/46/EC, implemented in Italy by Legislative Decree No 169 of 21 May 2004), food supplements are defined as ‘concentrated sources’ of nutrients and other substances with a physiological or nutritional effect. They do not have therapeutic purposes, but aim to support the body’s normal functions or to prevent diseases by reducing risk factors.
There are numerous types of food supplements, each designed to meet specific needs. However, in order to market a food supplement, it is necessary to comply with EU regulations, which require the registration of the product within the EU as proof of safety. In the case of entirely new substances, specific EU authorisation must be obtained before they can be used as supplements.
What are Food Supplements for?
Food supplements cannot replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, but they are extremely useful as a support for general well-being, both in daily life and in specific situations.
These supplements contain a wide range of beneficial substances, including vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and probiotics, enzymes, amino acids, herbs, roots, fatty acids, flavonoids and more. Thanks to these substances, food supplements can make up for nutritional deficiencies, support special diets such as vegetarian or vegan diets, and improve well-being in general. They can also be useful during times of stress or when one has a weakened immune system.
What You Need to Create Your Own Food Supplement Brand
To start producing dietary supplements, a precise bureaucratic process must be followed, which includes several steps:
- Opening a VAT number;
- Declare the start of the activity to the municipality;
- Waiting for an inspection visit from the ASL, if you have a physical location. If you are dropshipping, this step may not be necessary;
- Appointment of a supervisor or acquisition of the HACCP diploma by the owner;
- Apply to the Ministry of Health for a certificate of free sale.
Regarding branding, it is important to know that food supplements can only be marketed by Food Business Operators (FBO). FBOs must fulfil the requirements for production and packaging establishments and register each facility involved in the production, distribution and import of food. If you do not wish to open your own production facility, you can rely on companies specialising in the production of supplements for third parties.
Effective Strategies for Selling Supplements Online
With increasing competition and consumer selectivity, it is important to adopt effective strategies to succeed in the online dietary supplement industry.
First, it is crucial to identify your niche market and define your target audience. Based on the brand identity and target audience, it is important to create an appealing and modern graphic image for both the website and the brand itself.
To turn the website into a successful e-commerce, it is essential to offer customers several payment options, such as credit card and PayPal, and to provide a clear policy on returns and refunds. You should also promote your e-commerce through marketing strategies, including social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search engine placement, e-mail marketing, and content marketing.
Finally, it is advisable to include explainer videos, prominent discounts, review spaces, and efficient customer service, including via live chat, to offer a high-quality shopping experience to customers from their first visit to the website.