Why every supplement brand needs to stay focused on its core audience

Paul Donegan is Business Manager with Kinetica Sports, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading sports nutrition brands.

We met with Paul to learn about how brands are having to respond to the growing but increasingly fragmented market, and how new companies can best differentiate themselves among the vast sea of competitors.

The Fitness Network:

Which segment of the market do you cater to in such a saturated industry?


10 years ago the industry was orientated around bodybuilding, whereas it’s now evolved to become more mass market but more fragmented. There are more consumers with a genuine need for good nutrition, ranging from endurance and elite athletes to people doing team sports, weekend warriors and ‘lifestyle’ athletes. The challenge for the sports nutrition industry is to cater to these ever evolving and diverging customer needs.

Typically a Kinetica customer would do a minimum of 5 hours of sport per week, go to the gym frequently and be involved in sport at the weekend. We cater to people at the elite and professional level, serious amateurs and ‘weekend warriors’. There are other customers we target, but this is the sweet spot.

“The challenge for the sports nutrition industry is to cater to these ever evolving and diverging customer needs”

The Fitness Network:

How are you using online channels to support your business?


We want to build a ‘tribe’ and create true customer advocates. Word of mouth is often more effective than advertising. Look at the fitness community on Instagram, it’s massive. It’s about tapping into that and providing them with something valuable and interesting that they will engage with.

The 3 brand pillars are Trusted, Natural and Proven so we work with experts in the field like nutritionists Matt Lovell and elite teams to share their knowledge. Often people will ask us things like, “I’m running, what should I be taking?” and it’s paramount that we can give them the best advice.

In a sense it’s communicating to our consumers that every product, regardless of whom it is destined for – elite athlete or everyday user – is subjected to the same rigorous quality standards. We have our own internal quality controls and every single product is drug screened within the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) framework.

The Fitness Network:

What methods do you use to retain clients?


The market is very competitive and is becoming more fragmented. There are new brands popping up all the time, some of which are doing a great job of breathing fresh life into the industry. It’s up to established brands like ourselves to continually raise the bar and improve what we’re doing. New Product Development (NPD) is a big part of it; creating new and exciting products to respond to new consumer needs and wants.

The second thing is reinforcing that trust and having open conversations with customers through social media. We make ourselves available and open to answer queries. When you’re offering advice on products, you need people to trust your opinion.

The Fitness Network:

What advice would you have for a new supplements company coming into the market?


Be focused because the market is so broad; you cannot be all things to all people. Support your customer, be very clear on how you want to distribute your products, and don’t be afraid to say no – be protective of your brand and be disciplined. However the most important thing is to be patient – it takes time.

You really have to connect with your core audience and build your base outwards. From an online point of view, be original. There’s lots of information out there, so go the extra mile to find that new angle. It links back to your focus – you need original, focused content. You’re better off posting nothing if it just falls by wayside – think about how quickly your Twitter feed refreshes. Don’t be afraid to have fun and be a bit quirky. Sports and fitness is meant to be enjoyable; brands like Wheyhey do a great job of making their brand credible but fun at the same time.

“Be focused … you cannot be all things to all people.”

Tell us more about how the industry has changed and where it’s currently heading.


The industry has become more regulated and consumers have become more educated on all aspects of nutrition. Furthermore brands are taking a more holistic approach – it’s about how consumers fit supplements and protein into their lifestyle, not just taking them without asking questions. Sports nutrition products have become more of an enabler so that you can work hard, train hard, put in a hard day at the office, and perform well at the weekend. Brands are starting to understand that a lot more.

Rather than saying, “just take your protein”, the conversation is now about getting your three square meals a day and tailoring your supplements to fit around that. Consumers are reading a lot more about the right kind of diet. It’s not just about supplements; it’s about recipes, food groups, what’s in season, and what athletes take at different times of the year. It’s a much broader conversation.

The Fitness Network:

What new areas do nutrition businesses need to be thinking about over the next 3-5 years?


Tailored nutrition will be an important area to address. The way that strength and conditioning and sports science are evolving means it’s become very much about a tailored solution for each athlete. This is already in place at an elite level, but it’s about how it will filter down to the regular consumer. There’s a bit of a challenge there for brands, as they normally work on a ‘one size fits all’ basis. The brands that succeed will be the ones who can innovate and move the fastest.

Regulation is going to increase – consumers are going to look for more transparency in terms of where their products are coming from. Consumers are increasingly skeptical and more questioning. This raises the bar and puts pressure on brands to continue to improve.

“The brands that succeed will be the ones who can innovate and move the fastest.”


Posted in Interviews, Nutrition & Supplements, The Fitness Network.