A Formulator’s Guide To Sports Supplements

A Formulator’s Guide To Sports Supplements

Formulating a finished product is a combination of science and art, where room for creativity collides with research, cost, safety, efficacy, and consumer trends. This critical role in any organization is an exciting one to fill; however, the task of seeking out the most efficient solutions comes with a laundry list of challenges and considerations from start to finish.

Regardless of the specific requirements your organization has in place, it is important to have a plan to streamline your thoughts and ideas. In this guide, we’ll focus on five key considerations for a sports nutrition formulator as well as solutions and ideas from the Verdure Sciences portfolio to create an impactful solution in the crowded sports supplement market.

Communicate The Goals Of The Market

While sports nutrition may seem like its own audience, there are many segments within that each have unique needs and demands for a targeted finished product. For a formulator, research, data, and trends can be complicated and simultaneously essential in delivering an effective and sought-after solution to a targeted segment. Disseminating complex information to all people involved in bringing a formulation to a finished product requires concise communication to ensure the solution meets the unique needs of the customer in mind. The following questions may help to organize your thoughts and assist in communicating your specific considerations throughout the process to produce a market-dominating finished product.

Questions To Ask Yourself To Streamline Communication

  • What problem will this formula help solve?
  • What are the barriers for purchase? Price, sustainability, clean label?
  • What is the end goal of this finished product?
  • What are the must-have requirements for the ingredients of this formulation? For the messaging?
  • What research or clinical support is needed to achieve your goals? Your audience’s goals?

For example, maybe you decide to target at-home workout gurus sharing their regimen, workout tips, or health journey with friends. This audience might be focused on fast recovery in an effort to stay active with the family, rather than specifically targeting muscle mass, or perhaps these at-home influencers are most concerned with maintaining their ideal weight and keeping a healthy glow. On the other hand, maybe you’re targeting elite athletes training to reach performance goals – what would they need to be at the top of their game for each training session? Are they worried about collagen and joint health? Maybe the biggest concern is cognitive acuity, mental clarity, and precise focus and attention. What about sports banned substances – should you focus heavily on clean label initiatives and clinical efficacy? Knowing the goals of the audience you are aiming to reach helps bring structure to the formulation you are compiling and gives you a more firm starting point in what can otherwise be an overwhelming arena.

Consider Market Trends And Circle Of Influence

By understanding and using market trends, you can pinpoint targeted health benefits and popular delivery methods to successfully offer a solution that your customer will not only pick off the shelf, but tell their friends about. Let’s consider this idea in the context of our at-home workout opinion leader. This person is wanting to stay fit, squeeze in a quick workout, and maximize time with family. They want an easy solution to add to their regimen and a clearly defined solution to not only understand the benefits, but share with their friends and followers. The at-homer may skip a workout now and then, but they still want to share the positive impact of a formula with tangible results between workouts to achieve overall health and wellness. You might find they also think about bone health and healthy aging. A solution that factors in bone health would be a key differentiating selling point that targets long term objectives often overlooked in the short term. With some knowledge of market trends, you can identify what they are hearing from their friends, what they are looking for in a formulation, and what key characteristics they use when making purchasing decisions like clean labels, sustainability, and traceability.

Conversely, the elite athlete is likely to be more concerned about clean label efforts and wants to know exactly what is going into their bodies. In fact, they might include this new finished formulation in discussions with coaches or nutritionists. These athletes want to ensure that they can get back to action quickly after an extra tough day while proactively tackling joint and immune health. Elite athletes need mental clarity and focus to maintain a high level of training. Mental fatigue can inhibit the ability to push harder and train more aggressively. These customers might seek out a solution to keep them mentally engaged and clear through strenuous training. Both of these, hypothetical in context, are real world audience segments in the sports nutrition market and both are equally likely to disclose their preferred solutions with their circle of influence. However, they are seeking vastly different finished formulas. Knowing the audience segment, their goals, who they talk to, as well as what trends they are influenced by, will help guide decision making about new formulations that appeal directly to target audiences and fill unknown jobs as well as the primary needs and objectives.


Have A Passion For Science And Research

Now that the formulation has an audience, clearly defined goals, and is aligned with market trends, you have a framework for a formula that can break through market clutter and create enthusiastic brand ambassadors. A successful formulator should be passionate about the research and dedicated to getting to the crux of the science to make informed choices and offer solutions that not only work, but the audience can rely on. Considering our audience segments and what we know about them, the at-home influencer would benefit from a gut-health product for overall wellbeing and a balanced gut microbiome. By adding benefits for gut health, a formulation that goes beyond initial needs would stand out from the many other options in the market. For this example, you might choose a pomegranate-probiotic to offer a focused approach for a healthy glow, antioxidant support, and healthy aging. For the athlete, the information gathered might lead you to target immune health, recovery, and balanced inflammatory responses as this person is often seeking solutions to recover quickly, maintain overall health to stay active, and ensure they have a balanced inflammatory response to help promote muscle growth and limit soreness from intense training. A curcumin and pomegranate combination would be an advantageous offering with synergistic solutions for antioxidant support, immune health, recovery, and joint support.

However, as with any formulation concept, it is vital to find ingredients that synergize—many potential synergies are actually antagonists that negate the possible benefits that each ingredient may otherwise offer on their own—and you want to ensure that there is science to back this up. A formulation with clean labels and limited ingredients to maximize benefits could be an ideal solution to meet overall goals and maintain a training regimen. However, before jumping in with both feet and looking at the various botanicals to fulfill these needs, research must be done to ensure the success of the formula. Substantiated science offers additional confidence for an efficacious solution with tangible benefits. With this in mind, start drafting a list of gold standard ingredients with targeted applications to all your customers’ needs, then you can start considering specific brands that offer those solutions.


Build With Brands

Researching the available offerings that fill the needs of your audience begins with the big picture and choosing branded ingredients offers the reliability, consistency, and validity that customers seek. Consumers can access more information now than ever before. Because of this, many supplement brands transparently share the details of their formulations or ingredients with customers to meet demands and foster trust. Branded ingredients, generally speaking, offer reliable, safe solutions and may exceed expectations with traceability and sustainability efforts. Formulas utilizing branded ingredients can often rely on a wealth of information and third-party verification, in turn making it easier to provide messaging to your targeted audience segment, further educating them on benefits they might not be fully aware they can expect from a solution.