Trade Shows That Help You Break Into Mass Market

By Ray Petrick, Vice President of Sales, Boiron USA

Sales of homeopathic products in the U.S. totaled $1,354 billion in 2017, according to the annual “Supplement Business Report” published by Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). That’s an increase of 3.5 percent. Each year Penton Publishing conducts a thorough and data-based report, separating homeopathic product sales from supplements for this report. Their researchers look at barcode scan data for food, drug, and mass market retail outlets from IRI, factoring in estimates for the limitations of sales reported. The research team also looks at sales through natural retail outlets from SPINS, conducts a survey of practitioners for sales through their offices, and examines Internet sales from a couple sources.

The presence of homeopathic products in these various retail channels is a testament of consumer demand as well as our industry’s success. This widespread crossover distribution started with mainstream retailers taking note of top sellers in the natural channel. To build relationships with natural channel retailers, there’s a no more cost-effective event than one of the Natural Product Expos. The “West” show in Anaheim, California each March is the largest forum, drawing more than 100,000 attendees. The “East” show in Baltimore, Maryland each September is more manageable for the newcomer.

When you are ready to make the leap to regional grocery stores, national drugstore chains and the ultimate channel, mass market retailers, here are a few trade shows to consider based on your goal.

  • GMDC is a trade association for the retail industry. Membership is required in GMDC to attend the group’s annual conferences that focus on various categories. At the events manufacturers can connect with both retailers and wholesalers in the Health, Beauty, and Wellness (HBW) categories. The face-to-face meetings with the category managers/buyers at conferences specific to your category can be very educational to the manufacturer too. These meetings are usually 10 minutes and are highly focused on new opportunity.
  • ECRM is an organization that hosts annual planning session meetings. These conferences bring together retailers and manufacturers in one location, allowing each retailer the opportunity to meet with all participating manufacturers. This is an efficient platform for both manufacturers and retailers. Membership is not required. Participation price is based on the number of conferences.
  • NACDS is also a trade association for the retail industry. Membership is required in NACDS to attend the group’s Total Store Expo (TSE). TSE is the industry’s largest gathering of industry leaders. It provides both the retailers and manufacturers an opportunity for strategic and tactical business meetings during the exhibition part of the conference. During the same weekend, there is an option to participate in Meet the Market. This program is designed to introduce the latest innovations and opportunities to retailers through a series of 10-minute appointments arranged by NACDS.

Last, retailers outside the natural channel need to be educated on placement of our industry’s products. According to a poll commissioned by Boiron in 2010 of more than 1,400 female shoppers, consumers most commonly (41 percent) expect to find homeopathic medicines in the OTC section of the store—either mixed in with conventional OTC products or in their own sections within the conventional OTC product set. In comparison, 15 percent of these primary shoppers for their households first looked for homeopathic medicines mixed in with vitamin and supplement products, and 18 percent first looked for homeopathic products in a natural products section.