X2

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Part
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X2: Elite Athlete Demographic Profile

An elite athlete is likely to be a highly educated, affluent, married male in his 40s. The following information presents details about these extreme athletes.

Age

  • Endurance athletes are likely to be either in the 30-39 age bracket or in the 40-49 group (23.3% and 20.1%, respectively).
  • Regarding triathlon athletes, this group has an older demographic, and in 2018, the largest group age group was the 45-49 age bracket.

Sex

  • Although both genders have significant representation, men account for nearly 60% of the USA Triathlon’s membership, which is an interesting development of the more extreme levels of endurance competitions, given that women made up around 57% of the participants in overall race events in 2018 (including 5K races all the way through Triathlons).

Race

  • Caucasian is the vastly dominant race; in fact, over 90% of U.S. Triathlon participants belong to this group.

Family

  • Triathletes are likely to be married, with 40% at least one minor in their household.
  • Three is the median number of people living in triathletes’ households.

Income

  • The median income for triathletes is $126,000. Endurance sports tend to be an elite sport; surveys conducted by USA Triathlon, Running USA and USA Cycling all show that most participants are above the $75,000 mark.

Employment

  • Healthcare is the most common field of work among triathletes (13.82%), followed by business and financial operations (10.20%), management (8.23%), education (8.23%), military or U.S. government (7.86%), sales and marketing (7.53%), and computer and mathematical (6.84%).

Education

  • Eighty percent of those who participate in Triathlon hold a 4-year college degree or higher, while nearly 29% have a master’s degree; meanwhile, USA Cycling reports that 66% of cyclists have at least an undergraduate degree.

Location

  • Among those who participated in The Triathlete 2018 Audience Study, California was the most common state of residence, followed by Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

Home ownership

Research Strategy

To create a demographic profile of Elite Athletes, the research team leveraged surveys and industry reports about endurance sports, with an emphasis on triathletes. We compared separate reports and information tends to be cohesive among the sources. The only requested data not publicly available was home ownership, therefore, we cross-referenced their age bracket and income level to provide a response.
In order to present a recent and accurate profile of the athletes, we also used the 2016 official triathlon survey due to its larger sample size (it is not an annual survey, the previous one was in 2009); however, we checked the information provided to ensure it was still corroborated by more recent sources, such as the 2018 study.

Part
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Part
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X2: Elite Athlete Psychographic Profile

An elite athlete is likely a highly-driven individual who is open to new experiences and has a high level of self-believe. An outdoor enthusiast, he or she likes to discuss politics and health, and enjoy live experiences. The following information presents details about these athletes.

Personality characteristics

  • Elite athletes are self-confident and interpret anxiety-related symptoms as positives. Individual-sport athletes are more prone to abstract thinking than non-athletes.
  • Non-professional endurance athletes have a peculiar trait: an openness to experience higher than the non-athletes and professional athletes. This openness is also reflected in their aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity.
  • Elite athletes are likely to be highly driven individuals, with self-discipline. They treat training as they would treat work commitments and track their progress precisely and regularly.
  • Endurance athletes are better leaders, according to a study that analyzed 2,694 CEOs with 9,694 finishes in Germany’s top 15 marathons and cross-referenced the firm values of companies on the S&P 1500 Index over a 10-year-period.

Habits & Hobbies

  • They are either hoping to maintain their current weight (50%) or hoping to lose weight (48%). These athletes watch what they eat or follow a strict diet, and the use of nutritional supplements is not uncommon. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they eat out at least once a week.
  • They train year-round or mostly year-round. Aside from the three main events of multisport, hiking, camping and winter sports are quite popular among the cohort.
  • Forty-three percent of surveyed USA Triathlon members always consume organic food, while 43% consume it occasionally. They are likely to eat all types of meat (75%), while vegetarians (3.68%) and vegans (1.82%) are a small minority.
  • Ninety-five percent said they use nutritional products during competitions or training. The top brands mentioned were GU, Clif, Gatorade and Hammer.
  • Endurance athletes are travelers, with over 90% of athletes surveyed taking at least one personal trip in the past 12 months, and 59.5% taking three or more. Fifty-two percent traveled outside of the U.S. in the last three years.
  • Research implies that Elite athletes are outdoor enthusiasts. Politics, health, nutrition, challenges, and professional sports are frequent topics of discussion.
  • Endurance athletes welcome live experiences of all kinds. As reported by Running USA’s, they attend sporting events (65%), music concerts (62%), food/beverage events (46%), and festivals and fairs (41%), among others.
  • They love sharing event photos, especially pre-event. Analysis of 25 million tweets showed that 71% of Twitter conversation surrounding endurance events took place pre-event, compared to 40% of conversation across all types of events.

Spending Habits

  • As reported by the Triathlete Study, 91.5% of U.S. participants surveyed made a purchase at Amazon in the past 12 months.
  • Apart from Amazon, running specialty retailers, like Fleet Feet (56.7%); online footwear/apparel stores (53.3%), such as Zappos; outdoor stores, like REI (42%); Triathlon retailers, like TriSports (38.5%); brand-specific stores (25.5%); and Walmart or Jet (20.1%) are the most popular online options.
  • Ninety-eight percent of those surveyed by Triathlete use technology on their workouts, while 97.4% own fitness training technology products. The most popular is the multisport watch with GPS (85.6%), followed by heart-rate monitor, compression gear, bike computer with GPS, and cycling power meter.
  • Affluent Gen Xers are more likely than other generations to reward themselves with luxury; in fact, they are 36% more likely than the affluent Millennial to purchase luxury items across multiple categories.
  • They believe they earned the right to have the things they have, and 60% agree that luxury brands indicate a certain level of professional success, while 48% consider purchasing luxury a way to measure success.
  • Gen Xers are frustrated as they feel brands ignore them. A tech-savvy generation, they research products online before making a purchase. They want brands to reflect their values, be authentic and transparent.

Principles & Beliefs

  • Self-believe is a shared value among these athletes. They have an “unshakable belief through their awareness and inner arrogance and how this belief results in performers’ reaching their true potential, despite obstacles and barriers that people or organizations put in their path.”
  • When asked what they would like their sport to focus on, youth development was the number one choice, accompanied by safety and nutrition.
  • Endurance athletes value being part of a community with like-minded people. They cherish the idea of showing peers that they have inner qualities such as "being dynamic, motivated, organized, resilient, and rigorous."
  • Affluent Gen Xers believe being a parent is an essential part of their identity; they are likely to rely on their skills and knowledge instead of advisors, as they trust themselves first. A “do-it-yourself” generation, they want to be shown, not told.

Motivations & Attitudes

  • Some scholars believe that non-professional elite athletes are drawn to extreme endurance sports by a lack of objective standards in their professional life, as opposed to a marathon, which has a very clear-cut goal and measure of success.
  • Another factor driving these athletes may be the pursuit of pain. Research suggests that “By flooding the consciousness with gnawing unpleasantness, pain provides a temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness,” which helps them create the story of a fulfilled life.
  • Similar to rites of passage, in this scenario pain is not punitive but transforming, with the body serving as the "memorial of this transformation," a process of self-renewal. When they are in the obstacles, participants are entirely focused on their body and their pain. Pain pushes participants to be in the "here and now" of the experience.
  • One study concluded that "the focused attention on the body that pain enables is especially attractive to knowledge workers who spend their professional lives sitting in front of computers."
  • The pursuit of pain has become so habitual among endurance athletes that researchers coined the term “white-collar rhabdomyolysis,” a reference to a condition in which extreme exercise causes kidney damage.
  • Marathon runners reported that endurance sports help clear their minds and make decisions, which is important considering most have high-level careers.

Research Strategy

To create a psychographic profile of the proposed group, we provided a combination of data about extreme endurance athletes, triathletes, marathon runners, and Gen X affluent people. The following information provides details concerning the methodology employed.
There is publicly available information about the psychological profile of extreme athletes, but more mundane characteristics, such as hobbies, habits, and spending habits, are scarce. Besides conventional sources such as surveys, articles and studies, we also included some qualitative evidence, such as forums and interviews, as a way to address the missing information.
Still missing some key components, we expanded our date scope and included information from older sources, refraining from using those more likely to be influenced by time, such as spending habits and technological aspects. Our final approach was to include some insights about Affluent Gen Xers, given the demographic profile of the group; we observed the athletes' singularities when determining what to incorporate to present an accurate profile.
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Part
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X2: Elite Athlete Media Consumption Habits

Elite athletes are social media users who read publications like Runner’s World, Outside and Men’s Health. As members of Generation X, they are likely drawn to entertainment and healthy living content. The following information presents details about these athletes' media consumption.

Social Platforms

  • According to the Triathlete Audience Study, 67.5% use social media. YouTube has the largest adoption rate (97.3%), followed by Facebook (92.2%), LinkedIn (73%), Instagram (77.1%), Twitter (60%), and Pinterest (43.5%).
  • Regarding the frequency of use, Facebook is the platform triathletes access daily the most (62.6%), followed by Instagram (52%), Twitter (36.5%), and YouTube (30.3%)
  • Although Facebook is the most used social media platform, engagement rates dropped in 2019, while Instagram remains the fastest-growing mainstream platform for endurance sport brands’ follower growth and engagement.
  • The most popular fitness-related apps were Garmin Connect (53.6%), Strava (37.2%), and MapMyRun (30.7%), according to a recent survey.

Publications

  • Runner’s World, USA Triathlon Magazine, Bicycling, Triathlete Magazine, and Slowtwitch are the most popular industry-related publications.
  • Outside, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, National Geographic Traveler, and Backpacker are popular publications.
  • Nearly 70% of participants surveyed by USA Triathlon said they’ve most visited Active; other popular sites (besides the previously mentioned publications) include IronMan, Triathlete, TriFind, and XTri World Tour.

TV and Streaming Services

  • Watchmen, El Camino, Strange Things, The Game Changers, Amazing Race, and Game of Thrones were popular topics of discussion on triathlon forums in 2019.
  • Netflix is the number one streaming platform for those in the Gen X cohort, followed by YouTube and Hulu.
  • A survey conducted by Rotten Tomatoes discovered that Gen Xers watch most of their “TV content” on Netflix, but watch mostly TV shows produced by networks instead of Netflix's original shows. Forty-two percent watch 1-2 hours a day, and 40% watch 3-5 hours a day.
  • They watch shows based on referrals from family and friends (63%), the overall buzz about the show (54%), or ads they see on TV (39%). Gen X responds well to nostalgic content and artists.
  • This is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, and Will and Grace are possibly reaching this cohort, considering their average audience age.

Content

  • According to the Ipsos survey, 34% of Affluent Gen Xers listen to podcasts. Prevalent themes are sports (30%), politics (27%), news (22%), spirituality (12%), and health & wellness (11%).
  • When accessing sports-related content, athletes are mostly looking for gear or product reviews (72.1%), followed by injury prevention or treatment, sports nutrition, training plans, and inspiration and motivation.
  • Regarding content, as people age, they develop more “interest and ability to process more cognitively complex storylines. They seek out storylines that resonate with them and characters with whom they identify.” For instance, Big Little Lies was a popular show among 40-something women
  • Forty-six percent of Gen Xers follow the news and are more likely to get it from websites or apps. 41% of Gen Xers follow brands on social media for contests; 58% follow brands for deals and promotions, and 70% are likely to purchase from a brand they follow.
  • They are drawn to blog articles, images, comments, eBooks, and case studies. As for their favorite content genre, entertainment takes the first place, followed by healthy living, world news, technology, comedy, personal finance, and local news.

Research Strategy

To describe the media consumption habits of elite athletes, the research team leveraged information from surveys and studies. As aspects of the specific cohort were not publicly available for all the requested details, we used the previously informed demographic profile to address the media consumption that is not sports-related or linked to social media platforms. Our methodology was as follows:
We commenced our research by focusing on elite endurance athletes, looking for surveys and reports about their media consumption. We located information about sport-related media and social platforms, but different types of content were not publicly available.
Next, we divided these athletes into different categories, such as triathletes, marathon runners, cyclists, and extreme sports enthusiasts, hoping to locate the requested information. Nevertheless, apart from a few sports-related insights, the research was not useful. We then reviewed popular triathlon forums and scoured through the 2019 threads to discover the TV show posts with the most significant engagement.
Our third approach was to focus on the demographic profile reported, Affluent Gen Xers. With this approach, we tracked information about podcasts and content consumption, yet TV channels and further details about streaming platforms were not available. As a last resource, we once again broadened our scope and included all members of the Gen X cohort; still, recent data about favorite TV channels remains unknown.
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Part
04

X2: Professional Athlete Demographic Profile

The average NFL career span is between three and four years, while the average MLB career extends to close to six years. The NBA career averages about five years. In other words, many athletes end their professional careers before the age of 30, and without a college degree. This is one reason that professional athletes frequently struggle financially after retirement.

General Facts

  • The average age of the opening day rosters in the most recent season at the highest professional level in football, basketball, baseball and hockey was higher than the average age of any of the esports games.
  • As with most US professional sports today, African-Americans are over-represented in the population pool in the NFL and every other population demographic is under-represented.
  • The average NFL career span is between three and four years, while the average MLB career extends to close to six years. The NBA career averages about five years. In other words, many athletes end their professional careers before the age of 30, and without a college degree. This is one reason that professional athletes frequently struggle financially after retirement.
  • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for professional athletes is $50,650 per year as of 2018 and the job outlook is expected to grow by 6% (average) from 2018-2028.
  • Approximately 40% of sport and physical activity participants are women. Women’s sports receive only 4% of all sports media coverage, according to the statistics introduced by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sports.
  • The American Time Use Survey, consisting of 112,000 individual, US residents, 15 years and older, from the years 2003-2010, found that females comprised 28% of those who participated in individual sports and 20% in team sports.
  • The average annual salaries for NBA players are a stunning $5.15 million. Next in line is baseball with average MLB salaries at $3.2 million. Hockey is next with $2.4 million as the average salary for NHL players. NFL players only average $1.9 million annually, and professional MLS soccer players take home $0.16 million on average.

Home Ownership Among Professional Athletes

  • Experts from ForRent.com estimated the amount the top professional athletes spend on housing; with a benchmark of 30% of income allocated for housing costs, they estimated that the highest-earning teams had significantly higher monthly budget allotments than the median two-bedroom rental in their town.
  • The players on the Cleveland Cavaliers team (NBA) would have $19,229 to spend each month on housing, while a median two-bedroom apartment in Cleveland is only $964/mo.
  • A New York Yankees (MLB) player would have $19,936 for his monthly housing budget. The median cost for a two-bedroom in Manhattan is $4,088, though Brooklyn is cheaper at $2,660.
  • The LA Clippers (NBA) would have $17,008 to spend on a luxury apartment, and the median rental in Los Angeles is $2,449.
  • With a monthly housing budget of $16,421, the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) have much more to spend than the $2,415 median cost of a two-bedroom in their town.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies (NBA) would have $16,196 to spend on rent, while a median two-bedroom apartment in the Southern town would only cost $676.

NFL Player Demographics

Age/Race

  • The average age of professional athletes n the NFL is 26.6 years.
  • Most NFL players are between the ages of 23-25, accounting for nearly 700 total active players in the league in 2014
  • The league is primarily composed of African-American and white players. The percentage of players of color has slowly risen to over 70% since 1997; the percentage of white players reached a new low (27.7%).
  • At the start of the NFL’s 2019 season, the percentage of African-American players decreased from a record high of 69.7% set in the 2016 season to 58.9% in 2019. The percent of white players decreased from 27.4% in 2016 to 26.8% in 2019.
  • In 2019, 9.1% of players identified as two or more races and 3.1% choose not to specify their race. The addition of these two racial categories helps to explain the decline in players of African-American classification. Latinos, Asians, Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders, American Indians/Native Alaskans, and those who preferred not to identify represented 0.5%, 1.4%, 0.1% and 3.1% of players, respectively.
  • The total people of color saw its largest decline, falling 2.5 percentage points from 72.6% in 2016 to 70.1% in 2019.

Salary

  • The average salary of an African-American NFL player in 2014 was $2.18 million. The average salary of a white NFL player was $2.43 million.
  • Asians and Pacific Islanders who play in the league earn an average of $2.32 million annually. Hispanics make the most per person in the league when race alone is a determining factor at $2.74 million.
  • The average NFL salary is $2.1 million, according to Forbes. However, many players earn more than this amount. Because teams have 53 players on the roster, many of the rookies and players who don’t see much field time bring down the average.

Location

  • More NFL players are born in Miami than any other US city. Los Angeles comes in second with 37 players.
  • California has more active NFL players than any other state. Florida comes in second. Vermont is the only state that doesn’t have an active NFL player.

Level of Education

  • In the NFL, five out of every 10 players fail to earn a college degree even though many of these players attended college for four to five years. While this statistic is low, it is one of the higher percentages among other professional sports.
  • This, in part, is due to the fact that the NFL does not have a viable minor league system. Rather, they recruit directly out of college, requiring most players to attend a college if they would like to play professionally.

NHL Player Demographics

Age/Race/Culture

  • The average age of professional athletes in the NHL is 27.4 years.
  • There has been a steady decrease in the number of Canadian players and an increase in the number of American players. The league was 61% Canadian in 1997, but only 45.3% Canadian in 2016.
  • European and American players have been increasing; the number of Americans surpassed the number of European players in 2008.

Salary

  • The minimum salary for NHL players was $575,000 for the 2016-2017 season. The average NHL salary is $2.9 million.
  • The highest-paid hockey players come in with an annual salary around $10 million. NHL players can expect an average professional career of about 5.5 years.

NBA Player Demographics

Age/Race

  • The average age of professional athletes in the NBA is 26.8years.
  • For the 2017-2018 season, 80.7% of the NBA’s players were people of color, decreasing 0.2 percentage points from the 80.9% recorded in the 2016/2017 season. The percentage of players who were classified as African-American in the league was 73.9%, a decrease of 0.5 of a percentage point from the previous season.
  • Players categorized as “other” races increased to 3.9% from the 0.9% recorded in 2016-2017.
  • The percentage of white NBA players was 19.3%, an increase of 0.2 of a percentage point from the 19.1% recorded in the 2016-2017 season.
  • International players comprised 19.9% (96 players) of the NBA’s players during the 2017-2018 season, decreasing by 5.2 percentage points from last season which was the highest recorded percentage of international players in NBA history.

Salary

  • New NBA players with no experience in the NBA make a minimum of $543,471 for the 2016 to 2017 basketball season. The average NBA salary is $6.2 million.
  • The highest-paid NBA players make around $30 million, similar to the top MLB players. A professional basketball player has an average career of 4.8 years.

Level of Education

  • The professional basketball community fields an estimated 21% of players with college degrees. The NBA mandates that players must be one year removed from high school, or 19 years of age, to enter the draft.

MLB Player Demographics

Age/Race

  • The average age of professional athletes in the MLB is 29.2 years.
  • According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, the 2018 report for the MLB showed an increase in racial hiring practices.
  • In the 2017 draft, about a quarter of the top 26 players were African-American or Latino. However, African-American players have decreased from 13% during the start of the 21st century to 7.7% today.
  • African-American players make up to 42.5% of the MLB. Meanwhile, 2017 saw the highest percentage of Latinos, 31.9%, in the last two decades.

Salary

  • In 2017, the minimum MLB player salary was $535,000. The average salary for MLB players in 2016 was $4.38 million.
  • The highest-paid MLB players make over $30 million in salary alone, plus additional bonuses and endorsement deals.
  • Baseball players have an average professional career length of 5.6 years.

Level of Education

  • Baseball holds the lowest percentage of professional athletes with a college degree, at an estimated 4.3%.
  • This low percentage is a result of the fact that players can choose to enter into the professional draft at multiple points during their careers; after graduating from high school, after any season of junior college, after their junior or senior season at a four-year college, or after any season during which they are 21 years old.

Research Strategy:

We leveraged a combination of expert sports blogs, leading publications and sports journals to create a demographic profile of professional athletes with a focus on the United States. We defined professional athletes to be high-level athletes who complete full time/earn their living from competing in athletic events and, as such, we have done demographic profiling specific for major professional leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB). We have chosen these four because we assume these leagues are for professionals and they create a well-rounded sample. The research team has not included golf, tennis, or MMA because it is difficult to create one demographic profile for professional athletes in these sports since the games are often played by both professionals and elite athletes and one can't exactly distinguish the two. Instead, we tried to create a demographic profile for each major professional sport. We were unable to ascertain how many professional athletes have children. We have included research conducted by experts from ForRent.com showing how much rent high paid professional athletes can afford given their annual salary and location of their team. This gives an idea of how much luxury/rent a professional athlete can afford.
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Part
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X2: Professional Athlete Psychographic Profile

A habit of professional athletes in the United States is committing themselves to daily workouts. Regarding hobbies, some engage in bowling, roller skating, photography and rapping as past times. Their spending habits include spending money on luxury cars, pets, parties, fashion and private jets.


Habits

Hobbies

  • When they are not at the gym, practice, or competing, many professional athletes in the NBA, MLB, and NFL take part in bowling as a pastime.
  • For instance, NBA star Chris Paul likes to use bowling as a hobby. He has even taken it a step further by starting a foundation that hosts celebrity games each year, with proceeds going towards the betterment of their immediate surrounding communities.
  • Some professional athletes, such as NBA player Rajon Rondo, engage in roller skating as a hobby, especially since it offers an intriguing means to develop muscles and lose weight.
  • Professional athletes also enjoy using photography as a hobby when they are not playing sports. An example of this is NFL star Larry Fitzgerald, who does photography, particularly in the offseason, and gets plenty of opportunities since he travels to up to 10 nations.
  • Shoe collection is also another hobby that professional athletes partake in. NBA player Joe Johnson is particularly noteworthy for his array of dizzying collections.
  • An additional hobby is stunt piloting. NFL star Jimmy Graham is a notable enthusiast and even records tricks to share on social media.
  • A notable amount of professional athletes' hobbies include rapping. Some of them have even released their own albums.

Spending Habits

  • Several professional athletes spend a sizable portion of their earnings on luxury cars. Such athletes include NFL quarterback Tom Brady, NBA player Russell Westbrook, and boxer Floyd Mayweather.
  • Professional athletes usually spend much of their money by hosting parties to not only flaunt their celebrity status but mark special achievements or milestones as well.
  • Other professional athletes also spend their money by purchasing some of the most fashionable clothing, jewelry, and other unique attires.
  • Many of them purchase pets and spend money on high quality food and veterinary care.
  • Professional athletes tend to purchase personalized private jets to ease their travels, as well as for comfort and luxury.

Values

  • Most professional athletes are willing to work hard, with strong desire to win matches as well as championships, personal accolades, and other recognitions that categorize them or the team as the best.
  • They also constantly establish goals by positioning their minds to accept challenges and then operate, both consciously and unconsciously, to achieve their objectives.
  • Professional athletes value to continuously learning new things and work towards getting better at what they do to maintain an advantage over their competitors.
  • Moreover, they strive to always remain curious, seeking various learning opportunities. Athletes are able to comprehend that brand-new insights can help them perform at their best and replace dated abilities with new tools.



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Part
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X2: Professional Athlete Media Consumption Habits

Professional athletes in the U.S. are avid media consumers, mostly on social media such as Twitter or Instagram. They also tend to binge watch TV shows such as Power, Dragon Ball or Friends. Magazines such as SLAM are popular but digital media is much more important. Below is an overview of professional U.S. athletes' social favorite social media, TV shows, streaming platforms, and magazines.

Social platforms

  • Professional NBA athletes extensively use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • 33 NBA Players have over 2 million of followers on Instagram.
  • 9 NFL players have more than 2 million Instagram followers.
  • Players use their accounts to keep up with fans' discussions and comments, mock each other online, or to follow current events.
  • Some players even used Twitter during games.
  • The social media consumption was so strong amongst NBA professional athletes that a study investigated 112 NBA players to evaluate their impact on performance.

Magazines and Websites

  • Magazines are less influential than digital media, but SLAM is a publication popular with basketball professional players, due to their cultural perspective.
  • The magazine has a strong relationship with players and covers topics that they like such as fashion, hip-hop, and sports.
  • The publication has built a trusting and loving relationship with NBA players, and they are happy to collaborate with the magazine.

TV Shows and Channels

  • During the off-season, professional athletes enjoy watching TV shows.
  • Brooklyn Nets professional athletes are known to enjoy binge-watching shows such as Power on Starz.
  • Players use their social accounts on Instagram and Twitter to discuss the shows with their fans after each episode.
  • The show Power is a favorite amongst professional NBA players.
  • Another popular show is Snowfall, broadcast on FX.
  • Professional athletes are also hooked on shows that they watch in their childhood, such as Dragon Ball Z.
  • The series made a return on TV in 2015.
  • NHL athletes are fans of shows such as Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, Ozark, and Billions.
  • Friends, now available on Netflix, is popular amongst Spanish speaking MLB players.
  • They mostly watch the show to learn English.

Streaming Platforms

  • Professional athletes use streaming platforms to watch their favorite shows.
  • Netflix and Hulu are amongst the most popular streaming platforms used by professional athletes.
  • Some NBA players have even gone as far as tattooing themselves to promote Hulu.

Media Content Consumed

  • Professional athletes use social media for various reasons, including keeping up with current news and breaking events.
  • Others use it to share their passion for some TV shows with their fans and form a community.
  • They also use their platforms to show engagement for causes that they believe in.
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Part
07

Premium Nutritional Supplement Space (Energy) Competitors, Part 1

Six of the top companies competing in the premium nutritional supplement space in the United States include Post Holdings (Premier Protein), Abbott Laboratories (Ensure, PediaSure), The Simply Good Foods Company (Atkins), Nestle (Boost), Pepsi (Muscle Milk), and GNC Holdings (KetoLogic, XTEND). Complete details are presented in rows 1-3/columns C-H within the attached spreadsheet.

Post Holdings

  • Post Holdings is a consumer packaged goods company that ensures its products have the right food ingredients and nutrition value. It operates through a number of segments and one of them is known as the BellRing brands. Brands such as Supreme Protein, PowerBar, and Dymatize among others make up the active nutrition segment markets for the company.
  • Premier Protein has been one of those BellRing brands since Post Holdings acquired it in 2013.

Abbott Laboratories

  • Abbott Laboratories engages itself with the discovery, development, manufacturing, and sale of a wide range of health products. One of its areas of expertise is the nutritional products section where it offers nutritional products for both children and adults. The company provides nutrition products that are science-based for people of all ages to ensure that they stay strong and energetic.
  • Ensure and Pediasure are some of the company's brands that deal with providing nutritional supplements and both of them are in Statista's 2019 list of leading nutrition liquid/powder brands in the United States, putting Abbot among the top competitors in the supplement space.

The Simply Good Foods Company

  • The company provides a variety of products from shakes to frozen food, bars, and treats to serve customers' tastes and nutritional goals. All are marketed under the Atkins brand.

Nestle

  • Nestle is well-known as a beverage company; however, it also focuses on enhancing the quality of life and contributing to a healthier future for individuals and families. Under its Nestle Health Science category, it has a number of brands such as Boost which provides nutritional products that are designed to help individuals who are tired or recovering get energy.
  • Boost acknowledges that good nutrition is what keeps people energized and helps them be up for what life throws their way. As a result, Boost provides its clientele with protein shakes, pudding, and drink supplements to help boost their nutrition.

Pepsi

  • Pepsi normally deals with conventional foods and drinks and because its consumers started to demand more nutritious beverages and foods, the company started to offer nutritious products. To continue meeting consumer demands, Pepsi acquired CytoSport sports nutrition which is the maker of Muscle Milk.
  • Muscle Milk sells nutritional supplements that are ready to drink and others in the form of bars. These products are designed to help the consumer to energetic, build strength, and fuel workout recovery.

GNC

  • GNC focuses on providing health, wellness, and performance products such as performance supplements. The products are categorized in departments such as vitamins and supplements, performance, weight management, and herbs/natural solutions.
  • GNC has brands that make products that are specifically meant to boost energy like KetoLogic Keto Energy BHB + Caffeine and XTEND Energy.

Research Strategy

The research team first searched for the top companies competing in the premium nutritional supplement space in the United States through industry sources, like Statista and Crunchbase. However, we were not able to find sources that specifically provided companies in the nutritional supplement space by revenue. What we were able to get were details about top brands according to sales in the nutritional supplement space. From there, we backtracked and found the parent companies of those top brands and was able to come up with the list of top six US competitors in the nutritional supplement space by revenue.
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Part
08

Premium Nutritional Supplement Space (Energy) Competitors, Part 2

Details for the competitive landscape for Post Holdings, Abbott Laboratories, and The Simply Good Foods Company are populated in this spreadsheet and detailed below. The information covers details of their respective target market, competitive advantage, products, pricing range and marketing efforts for each company.


Post Holdings’ Target Market

  • Post Holdings’ active nutrition division caters to consumers that shop at club stores, mass merchandise, grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, and online retailers, specialty retailers, supplement stores and distributors.
  • One of their sub-brand- Dymatize caters to “millions of fitness enthusiasts and athletes around the world.”
  • Another sub-brand- Premier Protein focuses on people that have a “very active life” such as a part-time mother that is always on the run.

Post Holdings’ Competitive Advantage & Unique Selling Proposition

  • Post Holdings’ strategies to compete include effective customer relationship management, category insights, superior product quality, and food safety, product innovation, an efficient supply chain, and competitive pricing.
  • All protein powders from Dymatize are "Informed-Choice Certified" and tested to be free from banned substances.
  • Premier Protein products are in a “sweet spot between weight-loss and muscle-building” supplementing daily protein requirement.

Post Holdings’ Premium Nutritional Supplement Products & Price Range

  • The Dymatize and Premier Protein sub-brands feature protein drinks, Whey Protein Isolates, multivitamin tablets, protein bars, and fish oil.
  • In general, Post Holdings’ premium nutritional supplement products can range between $20-$154. Their premium drink products can cost anywhere from $3-$3.6 per serving.

Post Holdings’ Marketing Efforts & Channels

  • Post Holdings launched a six-week marketing campaign called Women Strong for Dymatize, to support women who “live, or want to live, a fitness-inspired life” last May.
  • In addition, they support local communities with food and financial contributions and volunteering from employees.
  • Dymatize features pro-athletes as brand ambassadors.
  • Their website features recipes, articles, and videos for real athletes.
  • Premier Protein, on the other hand, is active on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Youtube.
  • They also feature a section specific to collaborating with health and nutrition professionals.

Abbott Laboratories’ Target Market

Abbott Laboratories’ Competitive Advantage & Unique Selling Proposition

Abbott Laboratories’ Premium Nutritional Supplement Products & Price Range

  • The Ensure and ZonePerfect sub-brands feature ready to drink protein shakes, protein powders, nutritional bars, electrolyte powders, and meal replacement drinks for diabetics and dialysis patients.
  • In general, Abbott Laboratories’ premium nutritional supplement products can range between $9-$96. Their premium drink products can cost anywhere from $3-$3.25 per serving.

Abbott Laboratories’ Marketing Efforts & Channels

  • Abbott Nutrition’s website features a vast database of relevant clinical studies to cater to health professionals.
  • They’ve established the Abbott Nutrition Health Institute, which offers free self-study courses accredited for dietitians, nurses, and case managers. They also feature over 200 conference videos and summaries written by leading experts in their fields.
  • Abbott Laboratories is active on social media as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, and Youtube.
  • Abbott Nepro’s website offers an insurance reimbursement support program to help customers better understand their insurance coverage and payment options.
  • Abbott Ensure® partners with the Caregiver Action Network, the nation’s leading family caregiver organization, as their exclusive nutrition resource.

The Simply Good Foods Company’s Target Market

The Simply Good Foods Company’s Competitive Advantage & Unique Selling Proposition

  • Atkin focuses on supplementing low-carb diets by creating products that “burn more fat, work more efficiently and provide steady energy”. Their products are claimed to “reduce inflammation, improve heart health markers, and combat chronic illness that accompanies obesity”.
  • Their products are “backed by over 80 published clinical scientific studies and millions of consumer success stories”.
  • Simply Protein’s products are “gluten-free, certified kosher, and are vegan, dairy-free and certified non-GMO”.

The Simply Good Foods Company’s Premium Nutritional Supplement Products & Price Range

  • Simply Good Foods Company’s product portfolio includes frozen meals, nutrition bars, ready-to-drink shakes, snacks, and confectionery products marketed under the Atkins®, SimplyProtein® and Atkins Endulge® brand names.
  • In general, Simply Good Foods Company’s premium nutritional supplement products can range between $20-$39.99. Their premium drink products can cost anywhere from $3-$8.5 per serving.

The Simply Good Foods Company’s Marketing Efforts & Channels

  • Atkins is endorsed by professional endurance athlete Jenny Davis and American actor Rob Lowe.
  • Their website features helpful resources including healthy recipes, a weight and caloric calculator, recommendations and articles on health and wellness.
  • Their website also features resources on various diet plans and many successful case studies of weight loss.
  • They offer a 7-day meal kit delivery to allow customers to try out their diet plans.
  • Atkins has a social media presence on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Youtube.

Research Strategy

The research focuses on premium nutritional supplements used to boost energy especially drinks, to achieve robustness to the given context. Products that are popular/ well-rated and priced high were chosen to be highlighted in this study. To avoid repetition and increase robustness, we chose to cover products representative of all types and forms within the respective company.

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Part
09

Premium Nutritional Supplement Space (Energy) Competitors, Part 3

Details for the competitive landscape for Nestlé Health Science, Pepsi (CytoSport Inc), and GNC are populated in this spreadsheet and detailed below. The information covers details of their respective target market, competitive advantage, products, pricing range and marketing efforts for each company.

Nestlé's Target Market

  • Nestlé Health Science caters to retail and pharmacy outlets in its "Consumer Care" division or healthcare professionals in institutions in its "Medical Nutrition" division.
  • Customers include consumers or patients, and doctors, nurses, healthcare specialist and carers who play a role in health management.
  • Specifically, their products that cater to aging, brain health, chronic medical conditions, critical care & surgery, food and pediatric allergy, gastro-intestinal, malnutrition, obesity, and pediatric needs.
  • Boost, one of their 32 sub-brands, offers products that cater specifically to diabetic consumers.

Nestlé's Competitive Advantage & Unique Selling Proposition

  • Nestlé Health Science claims to be “a new, innovative and a different kind of company” that is science-based and “focused on advancing nutritional therapy” for patients and healthcare partners.
  • Their products are “recommended by healthcare professionals for patients with specific dietary needs”.
  • They invest in initiatives that produce products that are clinically proven.
  • Their sub-brand Boost provides nutritional drinks that are made with “fewer ingredients, no artificial colors, flavors or sweetness and is soy & gluten-free”.
  • They combine the “right, quality protein, vitamins, and minerals” with “irresistible taste” and offer a “Great Taste Guarantee” that refunds purchases if consumers didn’t love its taste for any reason.
  • Their products are “convenient to purchase nationwide” in pharmacies, retail outlets or via the internet.

Nestlé's Premium Nutritional Supplement Products & Price Range

  • The Boost brand alone offers protein drinks, glucose control nutritional drinks, high protein powder, nutritional pudding, calorically dense nutritional drinks, and drinks to soothe oral discomfort and taste changes from cancer treatments.
  • In general, Nestlé Health Science premium nutritional supplement products can range between $20-$499. Their premium drink products can cost anywhere from $3-$14.3 per serving.

Nestlé's Marketing Efforts & Channels

  • The company is focused on the “therapeutic role of nutrition” to improve health management.
  • They talk about their investments and partnership with technology research companies.
  • Their website provides vast resources that help assess, educate and train audiences in nutritional care.
  • They also provide recommendations of products that deal with different illnesses across segments of “GI, critical care, surgery, oncology, healthy aging, food allergy, obesity, brain health and pediatrics” needs.
  • They operate an online shop for all of their sub-brands.
  • One of them- Boost operates an email newsletter and features multiple video case studies on their YouTube channel.
  • Their website features helpful resources including healthy recipes, a protein calculator, recommendations and articles on health and wellness.
  • They also feature a section that caters specifically to healthcare-professionals in Diabetic and Oncology and provides free product samples.

Pepsi (CytoSport Inc)'s Target Market

  • Muscle Milk, made by CytoSport Inc, recently acquired by Pepsi, markets to elite athletes, active lifestylists and weekend warriors.
  • They do this by partnering with storied collegiate athletic programs, world-class professional athletes, and elite training facilities.
  • Their sister brand, EVOLVE® caters to “active lifestyle consumers cautious of their environmental footprint”.

Pepsi (CytoSport Inc)'s Competitive Advantage & Unique Selling Proposition

  • Muscle Milk uses “high-quality ingredients and key nutrients”.
  • All CytoSport products are NSF Certified for Sport, meaning they are guaranteed to be free from banned substances.
  • Their protein products are attributed with positive “quality, taste, credibility and versatility.
  • Their sister brand, EVOLVE® features products that are plant-based and vegan, free of dairy, soy, gluten, and artificial flavors, made with all non-GMO ingredients.
  • EVOLVE products only uses pea protein, which is more sustainable, uses fewer resources, and fertilizers.
  • They claim their products have a “great taste”, is “shelf-stable” and uses only less than 11 “clean, simple ingredients”.

Pepsi (CytoSport Inc)'s Premium Nutritional Supplement Products & Price Range

  • Premium nutritional supplement products include GENUINE Protein Drinks, SMOOTHIE Yogurt Protein Shakes, Coffee House Protein Shakes, GENUINE Protein Powder, and 20g Protein Bars.
  • In general, Muscle Milk premium nutritional supplement products can range between $20-$53. Their premium drink products can cost anywhere from $3.49-$9.99 per serving.

Pepsi (CytoSport Inc)'s Marketing Efforts & Channels

  • Cytosport and Muscle Milk are focused on making “premium protein products that improve everyday performance for every body”.
  • They aim to be the “protein experts for every body” and believe that “protein is fundamental”.
  • Muscle Milk is active in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • They partner with multiple universities, sporting events, and popular athletes as brand ambassadors/ influencers.
  • Their sister brand has a tagline of “Good Simple Protein”.
  • Their website and press release talk about their contribution of proceeds from the sales to the National Park Foundation that helps preserve US national parks.
  • Both of their websites feature helpful health recipes.

GNC's Target Market

  • GNC’s target market are worldwide consumers that “need to live mighty, live fit, live long and live well”.
  • This includes men and women that are committed to “improve their lives through innovative health and wellness solutions”.
  • They are focused on serving customers that are trying to improve in weight management, brain and memory, hair, skin & nails, mental focus, immune, energy, cardiovascular, and bone support.
  • In addition, they are seeking partnerships with franchisees, and digital commerce, wholesale, and retail partnerships in the US and worldwide.

GNC's Competitive Advantage & Unique Selling Proposition

GNC's Premium Nutritional Supplement Products & Price Range

  • Premium nutritional supplement products include ORAL I.V.® Rapid Hydration drink, PMD® Flex Stack, a gel and capsule combination product that supplies testosterone throughout the day; NITRO-TECH® whey protein powder, Redcon1 MRE real whole-food-based protein bars, Beyond Raw multivitamin day and night packs and many others.
  • In general, GNC premium nutritional supplement products can range between $20-$199. Their premium drink products can cost anywhere from $4-$49.99 per serving.

GNC's Marketing Efforts & Channels

  • The company consistently speaks about its efforts to “help people live their best lives with innovative health and wellness solutions”.
  • They also mention of maintaining the “highest standards of quality, safety, and efficacy”.
  • Products are segmented into Vitamins & Supplements, Protein Performance, Herbs & Natural Solutions, Digestion Superfoods & Green Foods, Weight Management, Beauty & Skin Care, Food & Drink, and Equipment & Accessories.
  • GNC operates a reward/loyalty based email newsletter and is active in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter.
  • Their YouTube channel heavily features testimonials from respective client bases.
  • They’ve also established the GNC Live Well Foundation that supports non-profit organizations that meet certain requirements.
  • Their website features helpful resources including healthy recipes, supplement recommendations, and articles on health and wellness.
  • They also sponsor local community events that are related to health and wellness.

Research Strategy

The research focuses on premium nutritional supplements used to boost energy especially drinks, to achieve robustness to the given context. Because Nestlé Health Science covers 32 sub-brands, we've decided to focus on its Boost sub-brand to build on the previous research and because it produces mainly nutritional drinks like X2.

We define premium products as products that cost more than the given example of $20 as a whole or $3.33 per serving. Products that are popular/ well-rated and priced high are chosen to be highlighted in this study. To avoid repetition and increase robustness, we choose to cover products representative of all types and forms within the respective company.
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Part
10

Premium Nutritional Supplement Space (Energy) Trends, Part 1

Two emerging trends in the premium nutritional supplement space highlighted in the findings are increasing growth and clean-label products. Complete details are presented below.

Increasing Growth due to Functional Capabilities

  • According to Julie Deustua, PR and Events Manager for Compound Solutions (Carlsbad, CA), energy products are leaning towards additional functional capabilities rather than just increasing caffeine content.
  • Functional capabilities are usually the concern of biohackers and gamers since these consumer groups are typically looking for long-lasting but healthy options containing nutrients considered vital for health. "Use of natural ingredients is highly common in an effort to promote the health-conscious factor."
  • A maximum of 200 to 300 mg of caffeine is what the trend intends to achieve as product layers focus on mood as well as energy. Also, organic caffeine and adaptogens like ashwagandha and cordyceps are utilized by people who prefer natural ingredients.

What Drives this Trend

  • There is an increasing demand by consumers for those interested in all-natural energy supplements due to its benefits.
  • Brands are preferring to create cross-functional products by reducing caffeine and sugar since excess of these components bring about serious health challenges, according to Penny Portner, Director of Marketing for Bioenergy Life Science (Ham Lake, MN).

Company Pushing this Trend

  • Evidence of this trend is seen in Bioenergy Life Science products, whose branded ribose supplement offers consumers the building block of ATP called exogenous ribose. Consumers are given much lower does of caffeine.

The Popularity of Clean-Label Products

  • According to Zapp, a large set of energy product consumers have no trust in artificial components added to popular energy drinks. Substituting artificial and unrecognizable components with known ones like tea and coffee, energy brands can build trust through leveraging consumer familiarity for the product.
  • A sweet-tasting caffeinated leaf of holly species called Ilex guayusa, which grows in the upper Amazon basin of Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru, is one of the numerous clean-label ingredients that constitute the next generation caffeine, according to Applied Food Services.

What Drives this Trend

  • Energy image is fast changing into a new identification called clean energy, and large companies are evolving to stand on top by applying this trend.

Company Pushing this Trend

  • Applied Food Sciences claims that its branded Amatea organic guayusa extract targets the modern workforce and gamer consumers who require premium energy for boosting their cognition.

Research Strategy

Our team approached relevant sources to establish two emerging trends in the premium nutritional supplement space, with a focus on energy-related products. Sources like Applied Food Sciences and Bioenergy Life Sciences were searched because they are at the forefront of the highlighted trends. We were able to provide emerging trends through a Nutritional Outlook publication.

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Part
11

Premium Nutritional Supplement Space (Energy) Trends, Part 2

Three emerging trends in the premium nutritional supplement space highlighted in the findings are young consumers being targeted by brands, the going natural trend, and the going beyond energy trend. Detailed information is in the next section.

Young Consumers are Being Targeted

  • One emerging trend in the premium nutritional supplement space is the targeting of young well-off consumers with energy products as this demographic expects more from the modern energy drink.

What's Driving the Trend
  • Younger, more affluent consumers, who have grown up in a world where product diversity and clean food has always existed, are seeking better-for-you premium nutritional supplements of all types.
  • According to the creative director for Applied Food Sciences, Brian Zapp, millennial consumers are driving the changes in the premium energy product brands, with 18 to 35-year-old males a key demographic for the industry.

Company Pushing the Trend
  • MatchBar is a company that is pushing the trend. The company released the first sparkling matcha energy drink in 2018, which is made from tea and antioxidant-rich juice extracts, making it a healthier option to other chemical-laden products from competitors.
  • The co-founder of MatchBar, Graham Fortgang, said matcha was chosen as its the preferred source of energy for the modern young millennial.

Going Natural

  • A second trend is that of going natural. Consumers are becoming concerned about the effects of conventional energy products that have high sugar content, artificial ingredients like caffeine and additives that are synthetically sourced, and which have been linked to negative health effects and weight gain.
  • This has led to premium nutritional supplement consumers to seek more natural products that have less artificial ingredients and sugar.
  • According to SPINS, growth for natural energy products was higher at 16.2% as compared to the growth of conventional energy products, which remained flat at about 1.8%.

What's Driving the Trend
  • A rise in consumer demand for natural energy products that are healthier for their bodies is driving the going natural trend.

Companies Pushing the Trend
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev is one of the companies that is pushing the trend. The company bought Hiball, an organic energy drink brand, in 2017, a move that was described by the founder and CEO Todd Berardi as fueling the momentum for natural energy drinks.
  • In early 2018, 5-Hour introduced its first natural product, a four-calorie SKU, sugar-free drink, made with caffeine-derived from green tea leaves.
  • Amp Energy launched a four-SKU line of USDA Certified Organic energy drinks in August 2018, which is made with citric acid, organic caffeine from green coffee beans, organic cane sugar, carbonated water, and natural flavors.
  • Rockstar also launched Yachak, an organic non-carbonated yerba mate drink, in late 2017.


Going Beyond Energy

  • There is an increasing trend where premium nutritional supplement companies are moving from energy drinks just being provided to boost energy levels to providing a more holistic product to boost a consumer's overall sense of wellness, mental performance, and optimized function.

What's Driving the Trend
  • The shift towards healthier products by consumers is driving the trend and forcing companies to create future premium energy drinks that emphasize a different kind of functionality than the conventional products.

Companies Pushing the Trend
  • Celsius Holdings and Lifeaid Beverage Company created Celsius and FitAid fitness-related energy drinks respectively that offer unique types of functionality in the guise of a traditional energy drink.
  • Celsius created a product that it claims helps to boost the metabolism of users and burns more calories.



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Part
12

D2C E-Commerce Sales Best Practices (Branded Websites)

There are tons of tips and tricks when it comes to generating sales through an e-commerce website. Some of them include simplifying the design, providing search options, simplifying the checkout, etc. Details of a couple of them are given below.

Customer Reviews and Testimonials

  • Customer reviews can help build the credibility of a brand and consequently increase sales, as documented by RubyGarage, Core DNA, and QuickSprout, among others.
  • Honest customer reviews and testimonials, including ones that are negative, on an e-commerce website show customers that your website is transparent and increases the credibility and power of the positive reviews.
  • Research has shown that 88% of people read customer reviews to develop an opinion about a product/brand. It has also been discovered in studies that 90% of consumers decide about purchasing a product before they have reached the 10th review.
  • That said, there are a number of factors that weigh in when it comes to customers deciding about a brand. For example, reviews older than 3 months may be deemed irrelevant by customers, only positive reviews may cause people to think that the reviews are fake, etc.

Beautiful/High-Quality Images

  • RubyGarage and QuickSprout also agree that using high-quality appealing images of products can create a difference when it comes to e-commerce. Sleeknote also suggests adding excellent quality images to categories.
  • When shopping online, customers don't get to touch and/or feel the product, hence they have to rely on images to decide whether or not to purchase something. This makes it essential for a product to be showcased from all possible angles. Zooming in can also be helpful, wherever necessary.
  • Marketing specialists seem to agree that images can help engage consumers, while 67% of online shoppers agree that product images can be even more important than information about the product and/or customer reviews.
  • As many as 75% of online shoppers decide on purchasing a product based solely on product images, while 22% of returns are caused by a different-feeling product as compared to the image. Furthermore, if visual content is appealing, it increases the chances of being shared on social media by 40%.

Research Strategy

We have provided details around effective e-commerce strategies and best practices that help improve sales. We have focused on user experience best practices that have been known to have a positive impact on sales. Best practices have been identified based on their repeated appearance across articles and their effectiveness.
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Part
13

D2C E-Commerce Sales Best Practices (Marketplaces)

Responding to customer’s reviews and providing clear and useful product information are some of the best practices around user experience for effective e-commerce sales. The following information presents details around each practice.

Best Practice — Respond to Customers Reviews

  • Amazon is a review-driven ecosystem, and as such, brands should engage with clients in an open, polite, and non-defensive manner. As Forbes noted, a review platform is not “the place to mount a serious defense.”
  • According to the 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey, 70% of online shoppers use rating filters when looking for a product. Thirty-five percent of users limit their shopping to sellers with at least four stars.
  • When addressing reviews, businesses should always respond promptly, as 1 in 4 consumers expect a response within three days.
  • At least one employee should be in charge of managing the reviews, study the platform guidelines and be able to convey the company’s message with tact and empathy.
  • Depending on the size of the operation, an organization-wide policy should be enforced, covering language and tone, timeline, and ideal response rate.
  • In summary, the response should address the issue, be informative, personalized, solution-oriented, respectful, and professional.

How to respond to negative reviews

  • Customers want brands to answer to their negative reviews; in fact, 53% of consumers surveyed expect businesses to reply to negative reviews within a week; nevertheless, 63% said companies never responded.
  • Negative reviews play a big part regarding the public’s perception, as 94% of consumers say an online review has influenced them to avoid a business.
  • A study examined 200,000 responses to uncover the best way to respond to each type of review. It concluded that when responding to negative feedback, brands should address the reviewer personally and avoid generic salutations such as “Dear customer” when possible.
  • Companies should also say "thank you" and show customers it values their feedback; apologize and demonstrate that the company owns up to its mistakes; and take responsibility and acknowledge the customer’s experience while providing reassurance.
  • Moreover, each review should be addressed individually, avoiding generic responses. The response should be specific to the customer’s experience and showcase the actions the company is taking, or will take, as a result of the feedback.
  • Directly contacting the consumer or providing contact information is a great way to handle problems and take the issues offline.

How to respond to positive reviews

  • Positive reviews should be treated as an opportunity to support marketing efforts, inspire loyalty, and highlight the best parts of the customer experience the brand can provide.
  • It is essential to demonstrate appreciation for the customer’s feedback, by expressing gratitude to the reviewer, and to reinforce the positive aspects of the review, while also showing the customer the company read their review by identifying and mentioning specific things the client liked.
  • Extending an invitation to try new products may turn a satisfied customer into a loyal one.

Why it is a best practice

  • Consumers want to be heard when facing issues with a product or service. Nearly 45% of surveyed consumers said they would be more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews. Furthermore, 80% of consumers believe that companies care more about them when it addresses reviews.
  • Responding to reviews also increases engagement and ratings, as reported by the Harvard Business Review. The publication examined hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor, which uses a similar review scale as Amazon, and discover that when the hotels started responding to clients, they received 12% more reviews and their ratings improved, on average, by 0.12 stars.
  • Templates and examples can be found here and here.

Best Practice — Clear and Helpful Product Information

Title

  • As reported by Amazon, “The number of views for a product detail page can increase significantly by adding just one additional search term — if it’s a relevant and compelling term.”
  • The product title should be short, clear and informative. Keywords are vital, albeit, the company should not exaggerate the amount to the point the title makes no sense. It should be easy to read and descriptive.
  • Tools like Merchant Words and Google Keyword Planner can help to determine the appropriate keyword for each product. Amazon’s A9 algorithm ranks the most popular items, and companies can type the keyword in Amazon’s search bar to discover relevant associations.
  • For supplements, an examination of Amazon’s best-sellers shows that most products have descriptive, yet simple titles.

Information

  • Bullet points are the best way to describe the benefits of the products. Bullets should be easy to skim and include information that is important to the client.
  • It is important to provide useful information to the client, such as shipping date, availability and pricing chart, in a clear way. The information provided should address questions the customer would ask, incorporate product specifics and data necessary for the customer to make the final decision.
  • Amazon’s best-selling supplements are commonly informative and have a call to action. Description of the key nutrients and ingredients; why the product is good for the consumer; the benefits; evidence it works and certifications; and natural and organic claims are popular features.

Images

  • The guidelines regarding images may vary according to the platform. Amazon, for example, requires the product on a white background as the main image, which should not incorporate accessories that are not included in the purchase, models or action shots of the image, nor text or badges.
  • To increase conversion chances, images should be clear and in high resolution. For secondary images, different angles, labels, features or comparisons, and informational images with texts/charts are popular among costumers.
  • Amazon’s best-selling supplements usually display their “Supplement Facts” and extra information, such as benefits, in the secondary images.

Research Strategy

Each practice was chosen based on the opinion of marketing professionals, surveys and Amazon’s best practices for its platform. Amazon was selected as a reference due to its importance as a marketplace. When constructing our "managing reviews" best practice, we examined practices that are directly linked to marketplaces and provided information on how consumers respond to reviews in general, how they affect\ their perception, and what they expect from a brand.

Regarding the “product information best practice, instead of providing one final section with the reason why it would be a best practice, we divided our research into small segments, as each one would have a unique description. We examined the opinions and articles available and then compared them to Amazon’s best-selling supplements to ensure they would fit the client’s product.
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Part
14

D2C E-Commerce Sales

Based on several D2C success stories, two best practices to drive e-commerce sales are using videos and customer experience strategies. These have been found to increase sales, build customer relations and loyalty as well as provide data to improve the brand and create other products.

Use Videos for Marketing

  • Dollar Shave Club in 2012 created one video which cost them $4,500 and within 3 days it went viral and so did their sales. As a result of the video, the brand's website crashed in two hours and all razors were sold out in less than a day.
  • It is believed that internet users spend approximately 15 hours every week watching videos. According to Cisco, should this continue, by 2021, 82% of all internet traffic will be as a result of videos. In a survey of marketers, 76% attests to the success of videos in helping them increase sales.
  • Videos are among the best practices in increasing sales firstly based on the level of success, it is known to have on sales. In addition, they are versatile, they show off the product, they make it easier for buyers to make a decision about buying, they improve the SEO ranking for websites, they improve conversion rates by 25%. Furthermore, videos that had a lead form to record contact details for potential buyers had a 43% higher chance of converting in a sale.
  • Videos give the brand a face and they reach a wider audience. It has been found that 45% of persons on YouTube and Facebook watch videos for over an hour every week, while approximately 82% of users on Twitter watch videos.
  • Videos are preferred by customers and are great for improving lead generation and finally, they are proven to produce a great return on ROI of up to 83%. Therefore, to make the video more effective for getting leads, a button calling the viewer to action is required. In addition, Google has found that viewers prefer to spend their time watching items being unboxed than to watch love movies such as "Love Actually.

Customer Experience (CX) Strategies

  • Bonobos focused on providing a kind of customer experience (CX) that was found nowhere else. It made shopping for pants easy. Casper believed that selling a bed did not have to be wasteful and inefficient. So it shipped beds in a box without the expense of a store and salespersons. On top of that, they offered free customer returns.
  • The Dollar Shave Club created a top of the line customer retention rate by selling subscription packages that would see customers saving effort, time ad money. This strategy propelled them to become a "billion-dollar business."
  • Warby Parker through CX has saved its customers a visit to the specialist by giving the opportunity to buy eyeglasses online using homebrow tools and CX designs. They did this also by sending customers as many as five pairs of glasses just so they could try them all and select one. In addition, they experimented with webcams, virtual try-ons and imaging software.
  • CX is a new way to battle for customers. It gives D2Cs a competitive edge in attracting and maintaining their customers. Studies show that consumers value specialism as they long for brand experiences that are authentic. Companies that have tailored their CX to their target markets have been showing astronomical growth and success based on the cases mentioned above.
  • D2C brands are able to use data to guide their CX. In addition, the data gathered can be used to improve on the brand proposition, build the customer experience that stands out to the customer and foster better relationships with their customers.
  • Through CX D2C brands are able to create new products, scale their marketing strategies thus making them more effective. With customer experience D2Cs can redefine the customer's journey with the brand. CX allows D2Cs to "listen, understand and act" based on data gathered.
  • Another example of a D2C brand that has used CX to drive sales is Nestle. Nestle used social media through its online sales platform to speak with and distribute a free sample to its customers. This led to them achieving their goal and distributing over 21,000 free coffee samples to persons who later became their customers.

Research Strategy

Our approach to this research involved using success stories of D2C brands that have increased sales using online channels. Based on this approach, we found several industry reports of brands that have gone the route of selling directly to consumers and have done well in the process. Upon extracting the best practices from these success stories, we then used at least two additional sources that confirm that both videos and CX were practices that would help generate sales from e-commerce efforts. We found studies, reports and statistics that supported each of our findings.
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Part
15

X2 Potential Influencers (Professional Athletes)

Professional US athletes who might be a good partner, endorser, or spokesperson/influencer for an energy-focused premium nutritional supplement include Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Noah Lyles, Kevin Durant, Allyson Felix, Race Imboden, and Michael Bradley. Complete details are presented below.

Simone Biles

  • Biles is America's most decorated gymnast, with over two dozen medals in the Olympic and World Championships at just 22 years. Biles has always promoted a healthy lifestyle. She is an inspiration to millions of people around the world which makes it a good opportunity to open up new demographics for the brand.

Katie Ledecky

  • Ledecky, at just 22, has won five Olympic gold medals and 15 gold medals in the World Championships, the most historic for a female swimmer. Many people respect and are inspired by her and she seems to be a good prospect.

Noah Lyles

  • Noah Lyles is an American track and field sprinter with 114,000 followers on Instagram.
  • Lyles has a huge fan base on social media which makes him a good influencer.

Kevin Durant

Allyson Felix

  • Felix is a successful American track and field sprinter known around the whole world. She is the 2012 Olympic champion, a 3-time world champion (2005–09), and 2-time Olympic silver medalist (2004–08). Many people are inspired by her fame and success stories.

Race Imboden

  • Imboden, too, has the platform to reach thousands of people and inspire customer confidence because consumers are prone to buying a product when they see a familiar face in the ads.

Michael Bradley

  • Michael Bradley is an American professional soccer player who plays for Toronto FC in Major League Soccer (MLS). Bradley has a following of 91,000 on Instagram.
  • He is a successful player and is currently the third highest-earning player in MLS. Since soccer is the most popular sport in the world with a high rate of public viewership, Bradley has the potential of building good brand awareness.

Part
16
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Part
16

X2 Potential Influencers

Seven influencers who might be a good fit for an energy-focused supplement include Sydney Maler, Scott Mathison, Natalia Garibotto, Bradley Martin, Nikki Howard, and JC Martinez. All seven have over 100,000 followers on Instagram and either heavily focus on health, fitness, and nutrition or are official sponsors for other energy brands.

Influencer #1 — Sydney Maler

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

  • Sydney has 1.2 million followers on Instagram. This seems to be her primary social media account.
  • Her most recent 10 posts averaged 22,383 likes and included a promotion for Bang Energy.
  • Sydney has 22,700 followers on Twitter.

Primary Posts

  • Sydney's Instagram posts primarily consists of her modeling in a variety of locations, outfits, and states of dress. She does not post nudity.
  • Sydney also posts short clips of her other projects, such as the sorry mom podcast, and appearances in media.
  • Sydney's primary energy supplement product she promotes is Bang Energy. She regularly posts photos and short videos promoting the various flavors.

Influencer #2 — Scott Mathison

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

Primary Posts

  • The majority of Scott's posts are of him working out or demonstrating different types of exercises.
  • He also posts pictures of his different travels, goofy videos, and videos of him preforming different fitness challenges.

Influencer #3 — Natalia Garibotto

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

  • Natalia has 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 34,100 followers on Twitter.
  • She also has a small following, around 1,000 followers, on Twitch.
  • Her most recent 10 posts on Instagram averaged 196,640 likes.

Primary Posts

  • On both Instagram and her personal website, Natalia promotes herself as a model and influencer. Most of her posts are photos of her modeling.
  • She promotes Bang Energy on several of her posts showcased in the gym.

Influencer #4 — Demi Bagby

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

Primary Posts


Influencer #5 — Bradley Martyn

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

Primary Posts

  • All of Bradley's social media, including personal websites, are centered on workouts, health, and fitness.
  • His primary Instagram account features several photos and videos of Bradley preforming massive feats of strength.
  • He primarily promotes his own products and services. This includes pre-workout supplements from Origin Performance.

Influencer #6 — Nikki Howard

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

  • Nikki has 255,000 followers on Instagram.
  • Her most recent 10 posts have averaged 7,123 likes.

Primary Posts


Influencer #7 — JC Martinez

  • JC is based in Massachusetts, USA. He frequently travels around the country for leisure and different fitness-related events.

Website and Social Media Links

Social Media Outreach

Primary Posts


Research strategy

The research team drew from personal experience using social media to identify Instagram as the primary tool for finding influencers that fit the requirements. The team identified potential influencers by searching for popular posts with hashtags related to energy, nutrition, and fitness supplements. The team also looked at specific energy supplement brands such as Bang Energy, to find influencers tagged on the official page for the brand. The last method used to find potential influencers was to go to smaller fitness accounts, with fewer than 100,000 followers, and look through the larger accounts they followed.

The research team identified which influencers fit the primary criteria of having enough followers on at least one social media platform, being based in the US, and promoted energy products. We then expanded our range to include influencers that promoted specific brands, such as 1-Up Nutrition, that dealt in a variety of nutrition supplements including multiple energy products. The team classified energy products as anything labeled an energy drink, performance booster or enhancer, or pre-workout supplements.

The research team also assumed that any brand or product that sponsored multiple influencers with over 100,000 followers must also sell premium products. The one exception was Origin Performance which sponsored several athletes, but not multiple with large followings. The team decided to include Origin Performance as a premium product because it was started and run by the influencer with the largest social media reach of our candidates who had a strong foothold in the nutritional supplement space.
All average likes per post calculations were done on 11/12/2019 and took the number of likes from each influencers ten most recent posts regardless of content.

Part
17
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Part
17

Influencer Marketing Best Practices

Two best practices for D2C e-commerce influencer marketing are using micro-influencers and turning customers into influencers.

Quality Over Quantity (Micro-Influencers)

  • D2C brands need to focus on the quality of a potential influencer's audience, over the quantity of the audience. Brands should choose influencers with highly engaged followers, even if this means choosing an influencer with a smaller overall following.
  • Influencers with highly engaged following will lead to higher conversion rates.
  • By choosing influencers with high engagement rates but smaller followings, brands can achieve the same results for less money. This is because lower follower counts generally mean that the influencer will charge less money, and since a higher proportion of people will engage with the ad, the ROI will be higher.
  • These influencers with smaller following are called micro-influencers. Micro-influencers garner a higher engagement rate and more trust from consumers, with 82% of customers saying they are "highly-likely" to follow a micro-influencer recommendation, and 61% saying they relate more with content published by micro-influencers.
  • D2C companies using micro-influencers include MVMT and Glossier.

Turn Customers Into Influencers

  • This is a best practice because multiple D2C brands, like Casper, Glossier and BarkBox, have had success with this strategy. It also costs very little to implement and creates a strong connection for the customer to the brand.
  • For BarkBox, by harnessing customer-uploaded un-boxing videos, they gained 3 million Facebook fans and 1.5 million Instagram fans from 2011 to 2017.
  • In general, 59% of marketers agree that organic, customer-generated content is the best type of influencer marketing.

Research Strategy

In order to determine best practices, the research team reviewed multiple publications by experts on best influencer marketing practices for D2C companies. We also reviewed different tactics used by successful D2C companies to ensure that the best practices were being used by high-profile D2C companies.
Part
18
of eighteen
Part
18

Premium Nutritional Supplement Case Studies

Optimum Nutrition and Vega are two high-end nutritional supplement brands that effectively market their products directly to the customer from their websites, as well as using marketplaces such as Amazon, Iherb, or The Vitamin Shoppe. Both companies market their products in the U.S., despite Vega being headquartered in Canada.

1) Optimum Nutrition

Tactics

  • The company has a brand page on Amazon.
  • Optimum Nutrition offers promotions and deals on Amazon.
  • During Amazon Prime Days, the brand offers discounts of up to 25% on some of its best-selling products.
  • The brand also offers lighting deals during these promotional events.
  • These deals last for 6 hours and represent a further 10% discount applied on top of other Prime Day discounts.
  • The company has opted to sell their products through Amazon at an early stage and is the first protein powder manufacturer to have an Amazon Alexa Skill.
  • Optimum Nutrition has decided to sell products on Amazon as the company is aware that its clients are active users of the e-commerce platform.
  • Optimum Nutrition's marketing team use Prime Days to encourage their customers to try new products, but also to give new users a chance to sample their products.
  • The brand has been taking part in Amazon Prime Days since 2015.
  • On the company's website, it is possible to purchase the product directly from the online store, or through online retailers, with the links provided on the official website.
  • Therefore, ON gives the possibility to its clients to freely choose their favorite online store from Amazon, Iherb, GNC, Walmart, and the Vitamin Shoppe as an alternative to purchasing the products from its own online store.
  • The company aims to extend its reach through a partnership with Amazon, which gives their clients the opportunity to purchase products through Amazon Dash, and allow ON to use headline sponsorship and participate in Amazon Prime Days.

Messaging

Pricing

  • All ON products on its Amazon brand page are available at discounted prices, with 10% coupons and savings for Amazon Prime subscribers.
  • A 2lb tub of the company's flagship product Gold Standard 100% Whey retails for $29.99 on Amazon, compared to $30.99 on their website.
  • Another product, Amino Energy with Green Tea and Green Coffee Extract, retails for $19.99 on Amazon compared to $20.99 on the company's official website.
  • Opti-Men, a 150 tablet nutritional supplement for men is available at $23.99 on Amazon and $27.99 on the website.

2) Vega

  • Vega was founded in 2001 in Canada, expanding from its first product Food Health Optimizer to offer a whole range of plant-based nutrition products.
  • Vega products include vegan protein powder, nutritional supplements, shakes, and bars.
  • The company was acquired by American firm Whitewave Foods but has kept its headquarters in Canada.
  • Vega is considered a premium supplement brand.

Tactics

  • Vega partnered with a digital agency to lead its brand's strategy and grow its image internationally.
  • The Vancouver-based agency named Noise also won the mandate to manage programmatic media spending and elaborate a mass media strategic plan.
  • Vega has launched a strong integrated marketing campaign covering digital, shopper marketing, social medias, and PR.
  • It includes the launch of a fully customized website representing the company's values and an e-commerce platform that simplifies the purchasing process
  • The launch of the new site resulted in a sharp increase in sales, with a 166% rise in mobile sales, a 28% rise in tablet sales and a 76% rise in desktop computer sales.

Messaging

  • The slogan on the landing page of the official Vega website is "We're here for Those who Want more, Seek better, and Never Slow Down".
  • The layout of the website is green with images of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, in line with their vegan range of products.
  • Vega's official website features information about the vision of the company, how it was born, and the actions taken to keep the company on its green track.
  • Vega communicates its message by directly telling customers on the official website what the company stands for.
  • It deliberately chooses to use a human tone to create a proximity with clients.
  • The company's values are represented on its official website.
  • This includes drawing attention to its ethics and the quality of its products.
  • Vega uses its website and its Amazon brand page to highlight the use of plant-based ingredients in their products.
  • On its Amazon brand page, the layout and messaging are similar to its website, with the green color and images of vegan foods.
  • The slogan on Amazon is "Live Like you Mean It".
  • The website landing page and Amazon's brand page for Vega are very similar.

Pricing

  • In terms of pricing, Vega offers some discounts on its official website, with 25% off on all Vega Sport products, available by entering the code 25SPORTSALE when checking out.
  • Its best-selling protein powder, Vega Sport Premium Protein, retails at $49.99 for its Large tub on its website prior to the discount being applied, compared to $39.99 on Amazon.
  • This represents an important difference compared to its own online store.
  • Another popular product, Vega Protein & Greens Chocolate, is on offer at $33.61 on Amazon compared to $35.99 on Amazon.
  • A nutritional supplement product, Vega Essentials Shake Vanilla, is on sale on Amazon at $36.99, compared to $39.99 on the company's website.
Sources
Sources

From Part 02
From Part 08
From Part 11
Quotes
  • "According to data from SPINS, year-over-year growth for natural energy is 16.2 percent, while conventional growth remains flat at around 1.8 percent."
Quotes
  • "MatchaBar released the first sparkling matcha energy drink. The brand is known for its ceremonial grade matcha, which can be found in 1,000 retailers nationwide as well as its three namesake cafes in New York and Los Angeles."
Quotes
  • "VITAMINS YOU’LL ACTUALLY ENJOY DRINKING. MADE WITH ONLY THE GOOD STUFF AND NONE OF THE JUNK. NO SUCRALOSE. NO ASPARTAME."
Quotes
  • "Celsius Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CELH), founded in April, 2004, is a global company with a proprietary, clinically-proven formula for flagship brand CELSIUS®."
Quotes
  • "Brian Zapp, creative director for Applied Food Sciences (Austin, TX), says that 18- to 35-year-old males are a key demographic for energy product brands. Millennial consumers, he says, are also the same consumer base that is driving industry-wide changes."
From Part 13
From Part 18