Supplement research has always been important for manufacturers and retailers. Now it is required. Government agencies demand it. Google demands it. Search engine rankings and online ad campaigns demand it. The question is: Who can do it for you?
A Costly Experience
One of my clients came to me recently to evaluate a research analysis for one of their products. It was a multi-ingredient product about which the company was making a long list of health claims. The FTC had objected to them due to lack of cited research backing.
The research analysis itemized each claim with one or more supposedly supportive scientific research articles. It was an extensive and expensive report.
The FTC balked. No wonder. In short order I discovered what a crappy report the company had paid for. Rather than polish it, which was what the company asked me to do, I recommended that they throw it out and start all over.
Ultimately, the original report turned out to be tuition paid to the school of hard knocks.
High tuition at that.
Finding the Science Behind Supplements
Supplements are rarely subject to scientific study by the actual product or brand name. This would be a very expensive undertaking.
Instead, supplement studies focus on one or a few ingredients at a time. For example, you may have a Ginkgo product called Ginkoflow for vascular circulation. You want to say that it helps to improve blood flow. Yet research on Ginkgoflow itself is nonexistent and it would take too much time and money to do it.
This is where an experienced research scientist comes in handy.
It is easy enough to go to PubMed or some other medical database and type ‘ginkgo’ into the search box. Now the fun begins.
At the moment, such a search yields more than 4,200 published articles in scientific journals. You can narrow the list down with modifying terms (e.g., circulation, blood flow, cardiovascular, etc.).
Eventually you will have a short list of potentially supportive studies for your product.
Unfortunately, scientists don’t write for supplement manufacturers. They write for other scientists (i.e., ‘peer reviewers’.) That is how they get their research published.
My point is that the jargon and technical mumbo-jumbo in journal articles can be overwhelming unless you are trained to understand it. Without such training, you may or may not know whether any studies support your product claims.
The FTC and Google will let you know, though. You may pass muster. Or, like my client, you may get shut down.
Get a Real Scientist
An experienced research scientist should have no trouble finding exactly what you need for your product. That still may not be enough, though.
Not just any jargon-spewing scientist will do. You need someone who can find the right information AND explain it in terms that you, your copywriters and your potential customers can understand.
THE LESSON: Get a real research scientist to find the supplement research studies that you need to back up your product.