Probiotic - Category & Consumer Analysis

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Probiotic Value Proposition and Messaging Part 1

In this article, we would look at how the following brands differ from one another in terms of the messages they convey and the amount of whitespace on their probiotics bottles: Garden of Life, Align, Hyperbiotics, Culturelle and Care / of. The brand that demonstrates the most impactful messages in marketing is Garden of Life, as this brands provides meaningful information about probiotics on its bottles. This is closely followed by Culturelle, Hyperbiotics, and Align. Care / of cannot be evaluated for whitespace in bottling, as the company's products do not come in a bottled form. Align has the most whitespace of the companies surveyed, followed by Hyperbiotics, Culturelle, and Garden of Life. Thus, Align has the most luxurious feel to its products.

Comparison between brands

Garden of Life

Firstly, Garden of Life's probiotics messages on its bottles also include the purpose/benefits of the product. For example, "Promotes Digestive and Immune Health" is clearly indicated on Raw Probiotics Kids Digestive Powder's packaging. The main features, such as certifications which would help to attract consumers, are also included. Apart from this finding, the company's promises to customers regarding the benefits of probiotics are also listed on the bottles. For instance, the labeling for Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care indicates to customers that there are 100 billion live probiotic cultures in each capsule. In addition, Garden of Life provides a link to its website on the packaging for RAW-Food Created Nutrients. This permits customers who would like more detail with the opportunity to research the product. A more detailed explanation of the respective probiotics is available on their website. 
As Garden of Life's probiotics bottles do not contain much whitespace, the products looks more affordable than other brands.

Align

Align's products have fewer messages on its probiotics bottles compared to Garden of Life. This is because it only includes the benefits of the probiotics, and also a message that the probiotics are among the top probiotics recommended by Gastroenterologist. While the packaging includes the purpose and benefit of the product, it excludes other main features that might interest customers. These features include the probiotics being "gluten-free," and as well as the company's products being the only ones are the market that contain the probiotic strain, "Bifidobacterium 35624™". As a result, Align's probiotic's bottles have more whitespace than Garden of Life's, and they look more luxurious. However, similar to Garden of Life, consumers can find more information on the different probiotics on the corporate website.

Hyperbiotics

Hyperbioticsprobiotics bottles only include the main features of the product, such as being gluten-free and vegetarian. However, the bottles lack explanation on the purpose and benefits of the products. Despite this, Hyperbiotics' bottles have fewer whitespace than Align's bottles.

Culturelle

Culturelle's probiotics bottles are similar to Garden of Life, as they include the purpose and benefits of the products. For example, the benefits of Pro-well Probiotics are stated on the bottle and include aiding one's digestive system to be more effective. However, unlike Garden of Life, Culturelle's bottles also include icons for their respective benefits. The company has also included main features, such as the company's offerings being the most "clinically studied probiotics". As a result, Culturelle has less whitespace than Hyperbiotics' bottles and Align's bottles, but more than Garden of Life's bottles. 

Care / of

Care / of is a monthly subscription service where consumers can curate their package of vitamins, and the products vary the most between all the brands mentioned above. The company does not exclusively sell probiotics, so for comparison purposes, we compared the website for Probiotic Blend. This product most closely resembles information on probiotics bottle, and it even includes a picture of the supplement label. It has also listed the ingredients not used in the probiotics. Examples include milks and eggs. Similar to the brands mentioned earlier, Care / of has also included ingredient lists and the dosage of bacteria in each capsule. The relevant information for these bacteria are on the earlier parts of the website. We could not determine the whitespace that the packaging would have, as it depends on factors such as font size.

CONCLUSION

In a nutshell, the brand that has the most impactful messaging on its probiotics products is Garden of Life, and the brand with the most whitespace is Align.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Probiotic Value Proposition and Messaging Part 2

We have conducted an analysis of the following probiotic brands: NatureWise, Nature's Bounty, Schiff Products, and Nature Made.

In doing so we have determined the main difference between these brands is that each brand is emphasizing a different key aspect of their products. For example, NatureWise is emphasizing their time release technology, while Schiff is putting emphasis on edible probiotics. We also noted a difference in the brand's attempt to back their claims using science. For example, NatureWise and Nature's Bounty use a lot of in depth scientific explanations to help support their claims, while Schiff and Nature Made are very light on scientific explanation.

We have also noted key areas of unowned whitespace. One such area is with regard to guarantees. While some brands make a potency guarantee, none of the brands are backing their guarantees with any solid evidence or policies. Additionally, another key area of unowned whitespace is with regard to featured stamps of approval. Only one brand has a stamp of approval.

Below, you will find a deep dive of our findings.

methodology

We first began this research by analyzing each brand's website particularly the probiotics section of the site. From there, we analyzed the information, messages and claims being presented on the website. We also analyzed the product labels and packaging to assess the messages being presented there as well. Lastly, we compared these findings side by side and made note of any areas of whitespace that are not currently being owned across these brands.

Naturewise

Theme:
NatureWise's probiotics products all focus on a centralized theme of time-release technology. The landing page of the brand's probiotics section of their website explains that probiotics are good for health, but that most supplements do not survive the trip through the digestive tract to land in the gut, which is where the probiotics are most beneficial. The brand claims that their capsules can achieve this, and therefore are capable of delivering 15 times "more live, active cultures to the gut."

Labeling/Packaging:
This brand sells five different probiotic products, each with a unique function/target market. These functions are: oral health, women's health, daily care, probiotics for kids, and maximum care. For each, the product packaging and labeling is the relatively the same, however they are each presented in a different color and include product details specific to that product/function. Despite this, the general layout, design, and contents are parallel across products.

The labels feature the number of probiotic strains contained within the supplement and number of CFU predominantly on the label, with strain benefits below that. The label immediately presents the time-release aspect of the supplement (which each of the different probiotics are in alignment with). The label also blatantly shows the product function/target market.

The packaging features the brand's overall values, beliefs, and missions. It advertises the brand's philanthropy efforts, talks about how the brand cares about people and the planet, and notes that the brand's values center around health and happiness for the world. The packaging also features product claims (discussed below), as well as supplement facts including ingredients, the probiotics contained within, and warnings.

Product Claims:
Each of the five probiotic products feature their own unique product claims on the packaging. As a case study, we are looking at the 'Daily Care' product. For this product, the brand claims that the product is backed by clinical research, and, as a competitive edge, claims that it uses more diverse strains and more live cultures than other products. This section of the packaging also provides some educational insights on what probiotics do and why they are beneficial. Next, it provides information on WiseBiotics, the brand's trademarked delivery system.

The packaging for the Daily Care supplement explains that probiotics are essential to health and wellness, but that probiotic balance can be thrown off by "stress, poor diet, environmental toxins, and some medications." It further states that the formula has been carefully designed, and uses strains and select prebiotics that have been clinically proven. It claims that this product will "replenish the beneficial flora in your gut for optimal health."

With regard to the WiseBiotics delivery system, the packaging states that 96% of probiotics are destroyed by stomach acids before they arrive at the lower GI tract. The brand claims that the WiseBiotics delivery system ensures that the probiotic capsule can survive the journey through the acids, while simultaneously emitting a "controlled release of live, active cultures over an extended period of time, throughout your large and small intestines, for optimal health." Lastly, the brand claims that the WiseBiotics capsules are better than standard capsules, because they "deliver 15 times more live cultures to their targeted destination."

Stamps of Approval:
This project has a GMP certification label (i.e. Good Manufacturing Practice), and says that it is bottled in the U.S.

Website Messages:
For each product, the brand features a web page with product descriptions. For the Daily Care supplements, the brand makes the following claims:
- Product is for men and women.
- Product is backed by scientific research.
- Product supports digestion, immune response, and overall health.
- Can be compared equally to a priobiotic supplement with a much higher CFU.
- WiseBiotics allows capsules to deliver "15 times more live probitic cultures to the intestines than standard probiotic brands."
- The WiseBiotics delivery system "offers a sustained release of live, active probiotic cultures" throughout the intestines, which the brand says is something that a standard probiotic cannot provide.
- Capsules are vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
- Capsules contain prebiotics and probiotics.

Furthermore, on the web page, the brand expands on the claim that their product is comparable to that of a product that has 150 billion CFU (while the Daily Care product has 10 billion CFU). They go on to claim that this is possible due to the fact that 96% of probiotics from standard brands are destroyed in the stomach, while 60% of NatureWise's probiotics make it to the intestines.

The web page features a diagram of what the capsule looks like after traveling through the digestive system at various intervals and where in the digestive tract the capsule would be located at various intervals.

The web page talks about reasons beyond digestion which probiotics can be used for, stating that "every single body system is affected by the health of probiotic colonies" in the gut. It ties this information together with the notion that "80% of the body's immune cells" are located in the gut. It acknowledges that science doesn't fully understand the entire realm of gut flora and health connections, but that "some of the known relationships include: improved immune health, energy levels, mood and mental health, healthy weight, and longer life."

Guarantees:
The brand makes a guarantee with regard to live culture potency, claiming that many store-shelf probiotics "have no viability at all by the time they are consumed", and that NatureWise guarantees that their capsules are "viable with live, active cultures up to expiration, and [they] ensure exceptional shelf-life stability--even at room temperature."

Nature's Bounty

Theme:
The landing page of this brand's probiotics section immediately presents the consumer with the idea that probiotics play a key roll in nutrient absorption. They feature a video on how probiotics work. In their written description of how probiotics work, they again focus on the idea of nutrient absorption. The brand provides probiotic products that are designed to target specific dietary needs.

Labeling/Packaging:
This brand offers nine different probiotic products: two products designed specifically for women; a controlled delivery probiotic and a dark chocolate probiotic, two acidophilus products; a chewable wafer version and a tablet version, an ultra strength probiotic, a controlled delivery probiotic, probiotic gummies, a probiotic for gas and bloating, and a probiotic for cholesterol/cardio-health.

Each of these products have slightly different packaging. As a case study, we are focusing on the controlled delivery probiotic product, called Probiotic 10, because the brand says that this is their everyday probiotic supplement and therefore we can easily compare this case study to the Daily Care case study from above.

The Probiotic 10 package features the function/target of the probiotic, the number of live cultures, the number of strains, the strain benefits, and a description of the health benefits of the probiotic. It also features educational information on the different strains contained within the supplement and how they support health. The package also features information about the brand, primarily touting their long-standing reputation since having been in business for more than 40 years. Lastly, the package features supplement facts, including a list of ingredients and warnings.

Product Claims:
This brand claims that Probiotic 10 is the answer to the consumer's "everyday probiotic needs." It claims the product has 10 probiotic strains, including several that been clinically studied. The brand claims that these strains provide "healthy gastrointestinal function, digestive balance, and immune health support." The brand claims that this product has been tested in a laboratory and is backed by science. They claim this product has no artificial color, flavor, sweetener, preservatives, sugar, starch, milk, lactose, gluten, wheat, fish, or sodium, and this product is vegetarian. The brand states that the product is made in the U.S.

Stamps of Approval:
None provided.

Website Messages:
The information on the website reflects the same information provided on the packaging, and does not really provide any additional insights.

Guarantees:
On their Probiotic 10 product, they guarantee that at the time of manufacture, there are 20 billion active cultures per serving. They also guarantee the quality of their product.

Schiff Products

Theme:
Unlike the previous two brands, Schiff does not have a probiotics landing page or section their website. Instead, their probiotics are featured in their "digestive advantage" product line, and all of Schiffs products are featured in an e-commerce-style page layout. We searched for probiotics in their search bar to isolate them from the overall digestive products category. In doing so, we were able to note that the vast majority of Schiff's probiotic products are edibles; mostly gummies, and some chocolate.

Label/Packaging:
Schiff has a total of 25 probiotic products. These come as standard probiotic capsules, gummies, and a couple chocolate products. Some gummy versions are targeted at children, while others come in different flavors, target a specific ailment or are a part of a combination product. For example, one of Schiff's products is a combination of probiotics plus enzymes, while others are designed for lactose defense, gas defense, or bowel support.

Each of these products has slightly different packaging. As a case study we have chosen to focus on the brand's daily probiotic capsules, in order to stay aligned with the other case studies we have focused on during this research.

This brand uses the slogan 'The Probiotic That Survives,' on its packaging. The package says that this product has a hundred times higher survival rate compared to yogurt and other leading probiotics brands. The package features supplement facts, including ingredients and warnings. The package also features information about the brand's patented probiotic, BC30 (discussed below), offers educational information about probiotics, and explains why the product has a higher survival rate to that of other brands. It lists the benefits of using the product.

Product Claims:
The daily probiotic capsule is also available in a gummy version, along with a gummy version that that includes fiber and another gummy version designed for kids--all of which are daily probiotics. Schiff claims that this product does not have any artificial flavors or preservatives.

The brand claims that this probiotic "targets your specific digestive health needs and with continued use, gives you long-term digestive support." They say the product can alleviate abdominal pain, reduce bloating, and can help with occasional diarrhea. The brand claims that this product can "survive the harsh acidic stomach environment" in a way that other probiotic brands cannot. They claim this is because of their patented BC30 probiotic, which survives one-hundred times better than other brands. They claim the product can be taken once per day. Schiff says that "each capsule contains 2 billion viable cells of BC30 probiotic."

Stamps of Approval:
None provided.

Website Messages:
The product claims and guarantees are featured on the website. The website also provides insight on BC30, which is Schiff's patented probiotic that is featured in its probiotic products. Schiff says that this probiotic is "naturally protected by a protein shell, [and is] scientifically proven to survive stomach acid 100x better than other probiotics and yogurt." (sic) Beyond this, the website features the same information and wording as is provided on the package.

Guarantees:
Schiff displays their 'Schiff Quality Guarantee' on this product, which they say is a guarantee of "purity, freshness, and labeled potency."

Nature Made

Theme:
The probiotic product landing page for Nature Made immediately presents the consumer with a sense of choice when it comes to using Nature Made probiotics, because they say that they have different products to suit the consumers' individual needs. Of the products Nature Made provides, each one appears to be a combination product that provides some other type of dietary/nutritional benefits and ingredients alongside the probiotics.

Label/Packaging:
Nature Made features four different probiotic products: adult probiotic gummies which feature vitamin B12 for energy, advanced dual action probiotics, dual action probiotics for women; and probiotics for daily balance. Each of these packages have a relatively similar packaging style and design.

We have chosen to focus on the daily balance probiotics as a case study, in order to stay aligned with the other case studies presented here.

The packaging states the number of live cultures per serving, the functions of the probiotic, the number of doses needed per day, and features supplement facts including ingredients and warnings. The packaging also provides explanation as to what the product does, what it contains, and what digestive ailments it relieves. It provides insight into the benefits of using the product. Lastly, it touts the brand's 40-year heritage.

Product Claims:
The brand claims that their product reduces gas, abdominal pains, and bloating. They say their product is gluten free, has no dairy, synthetic dyes, artificial flavors or preservatives, and has "10 billion live probiotic cells of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v." This product is suitable for daily use. They claim this product should be taken once per day, ideally with food. They say there are no known drug interactions for this product, but warn that consumers should consult a health care professional before taking if they are taking medications. The brand claims that this product features a clinically studied strain. The product is made with probi-digestis. It is made in Canada, and packaged and tested in the U.S.

Stamps of Approval:
None provided.

Website Messages:
The website does not feature a significant amount of information regarding these products.

Guarantees:
"Guaranteed potency until expiration."

brand comparison AND unowned whitespaces

After analyzing each of these brands, we noted the following differences between them:
-- While each brand is making overall similar claims regarding what their product does (e.g. improving digestion and immune system), each of these brands is placing emphasis on a different key factor of the product. This is seen in the differences in product themes.
-- There are significant differences in the sizes of their product lines.
-- There are significant differences in the amount and depth of information these brands include on their websites and packaging.
-- The overall packaging presentation of their product lines is also different; where some brands rely on a uniform design across products, others have a more eclectic range of designs for different products.
-- Another key difference is with regard to their product claims; where some brands are providing more scientific claims and giving robust scientific explanations for these claims, others are making claims that are more high-level.

After analyzing each of these brands, we noted the following unowned whitespaces:
-- One element that most of these brands lack are solid guarantees. While some are guaranteeing probiotic potency up until the expiration date, none of these products are backing this guarantee up with additional insights or scientific information that supports the guarantee.
-- Another key whitespace area that isn't being addressed is in regard to stamps of approval. Only one of these brands features a stamp of approval, in which case they only featured one. None of the brands have an FDA certification. Even those products that claim to be vegetarian do not have a stamp of approval from a vegetarian association.
-- The content presented on the websites also leaves a lot of empty whitespace. Most of the websites did not feature any extra information than what was already featured on the product packaging. We feel this indicates a poor use of whitespace on behalf of these brands. In this context, we felt Nature Wise made the best use of their website whitespace, filling it with additional scientific and educational information, while Nature Made provided very little scientific and educational information across both their website and packaging.

CONCLUSION

In closing, we have providing insight into how the aforementioned probiotic brands are different from one another and have identified areas of whitespace that are currently not being owned. In doing so, we have focused exclusively on the types of messages and claims the brands are projecting through their product packaging and websites.

Part
03
of three
Part
03

GI health and Probiotics

The most common misconceptions regarding probiotics and GI health are: lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are considered to be the main and most important bacteria in the stomach, probiotics should not be taken with food, dosage misconceptions, quantity over quality misconceptions, probiotics are only good when refrigerated, rotation of probiotics is needed, live bacteria make milk curdle, probiotics work instantly, good probiotics are expensive, and probiotics should be taken only by people with irregular bowl movement.

methodology

As the research question specified misconceptions about GI health and probiotics should be identified, we opted to look for both probiotics misconception when it comes to GI health, but also provide additional misconceptions about GI health in general. As the final client is a probiotic brand, we found 10 specific misconceptions regarding probiotics that are specifically widespread across the US. In order to provide a full answer, paragraphs 11-15 provide GI health misconceptions.

1. Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are considered to be the main and most important bacteria in the stomach

According to National Practitioner Magazine, the Americans are often mistaken when it comes to what bacteria is the most important in the gut. Therefore, they look for those bacteria in their probiotics as well. The truth is that the most prolific bacteria in the stomach is are obligate anaerobes which are unable to tolerate oxygen and can’t be manufactured in capsules.

2. Probiotics should not be taken with food

The majority of Americans think that probiotics should not be consumed with food, as the stomach acid would kill the bacteria. However, recent studies show that taking probiotics with food brings more successful results.

3. DOSAGE ISSUES

This misconception varies from person to person. Overall, the society isn't educated enough about when it comes to what amount of probiotics should be consummated. On top of that, the amounts of probiotics between different products vary. Studies show that the majority of people currently consume less probiotics than they actually need.

4. Quantity over quality

The majority of people look at probiotics only in terms of quantity, and not quality of microbiological structure. Most people would opt for a probiotic with 50 billion cells over the one with 4 billion cells. This is also seen in advertising. However, in reality, "having 50 billion CFUs in a probiotic is only helpful if you can confirm that 50 billion CFUs are surviving in the digestive tract." Another example of this is the idea that probiotics need to contain at least 15 different strains. Studies show that probiotics that have one strain are as successful as those that have 15 different strains. It has been proven that there exists "no conclusive evidence to show that probiotics with higher concentrations of bacteria or more species/strains improve their efficacy and health benefits. Different types of bacteria are effective at different amounts, and the recommended amount and number of strains should be based on clinical studies that demonstrate a health benefit".

5. probiotics are only good when refrigerated

Most people think that for a probiotic to be considered a good probiotic, it needs to be stored in a fridge, when in reality refrigeration is a sign of a weak probiotic.

6. ROTATION OF PROBIOTICS IS NEEDED

It is a common misconception that in order to maintain the efficacy of probiotics, there needs to be a rotation of probiotics. This is based on the fact that many probiotics stop having an effect on human body after one or two months of use. However, if that's the case, then a probiotic isn't a quality probiotic.

7. Live bacteria make milk curdle

This is one of the most common urban legends that has been floating around for decades. Many people think that in order to test whether bacteria in their probiotics are alive, they should put their probiotics on a little of milk and wait to see whether the milk curdles after a day or two.

8. Probiotics work instantly

On top of the fact that people think probiotics work instantly, they also expect that the probiotics will work the same for everyone. However, it is impossible to predict how quick the results will come. This depends on a wide range of factors, including eating habits, exercise factors, lifestyle, the current state of their digestion track etc.

9. GOOD PROBIOTICS ARE EXPENSIVE

The majority of people who aren't consuming probiotics aren't doing so because they are put off by supplements that are subject to large mark-ups. However, the quality of probiotics isn't strictly tied to the price, and there are products which are affordable.

10. PROBIOTICS SHOULD BE TAKEN ONLY BY PEOPLE WITH IRREGULAR BOWL MOVEMENT

While probiotics are most commonly advertised to "help things moving", they also help support battling different issues such as weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight, and also help with regulating the mood and the overall health.

11. Spicy food and stress are the causes of stomach ulcers

While many people stay away from spicy food and try to regulate stress as ulcers have been promoted to be caused by these two things, the majority of stomach ulcers are actually caused infections or drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. So far, the studies have shown that spicy food and stress can help with aggravating ulcer symptoms, but definitely do not cause ulcers.

12. Celiac disease is a rare disease that occurs in children

Celiac disease actually occurs in both children and adults. Currently, approximately 1 in 200 people in the United States have the genetic code that makes them not immune to celiac disease. Celiac disease symptoms can include "bloating and abdominal distention, flatulence, diarrhea, and abdominal pain due to the involvement of the small intestine as well as skin rash, anemia, and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) due to malabsorption of nutrients by the diseased intestine".

13. Bowel movement should happen every day

Many people think that in order to have "healthy" bowel movement, they should move every day. However, the frequency of bowel movements can vary from three times a day to three times a week.

14. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is caused by psychological problems

Inflammatory bowel disease is a name used for two diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Currently, it is not known what causes these two diseases, but many people misplace the condition as a disease caused by psychological problems.

15. CIGARETTES HELP WITH HEARTBURN

Cigarettes have been thought to help with heartburn for a long time. However, the newest studies show that cigarette smoking could actually contribute to heartburn. People who smoke more frequently "have inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), presumably caused by increased reflux of acid, that is the basis of heartburn. The increased reflux is believed to be due to the fact that cigarette smoking causes the LES to relax".

CONCLUSION

The most common misconceptions regarding GI health are that cigarettes help with heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease is caused by psychological problems, bowel movement should happen every day, celiac disease is a rare disease that occurs in children, and spicy food and stress are the causes of stomach ulcers.
Sources
Sources