Nutraceutical marketing is not an easy task. It’s all very well creating an advertisement or doing a bit of sampling here and there, but does this always have the desired effect? This industry is more complex than most and often a more robust approach to communication is required. Victory lies in the correct and balanced application of the marketing mix, and the role that exhibitions play in a business-to-business campaigns hould not be underestimated, particularly in an industry like this. However, exhibition organisers can’t rest on their laurels. To guarantee a successful event, they need to ensure that added value is delivered at every opportunity.

The nutraceutical market is thriving. According to a report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc ., the global nutraceuticals market is expected to cross US$187 billion by 2010. Rising consumer interest in the role of diet and health and a growing desire to take a more active role in promoting and optimising personal wellbeing have been key to its development in recent years. Whilst many have considered this a great opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and make a quick buck, the impulsive were not necessarily the ones that reaped the benefits. Breaking into developing markets involves a great deal of planning, strategic communication, networking and researching, and that is why exhibitions should form an important part of business-to-business marketing campaigns – for suppliers and manufacturers alike.

The key to the success of an exhibition like Vitafoods International is simple: potential. With a uniquely specialist approach, the exhibition offers research, communication and face-to-face networking, meaning there is a wealth of opportunity out there for companies to explore.

At Vitafoods International 2007, for example, over 400 companies exhibited, offering visitors a diverse opportunity to learn about the exciting new and innovative ingredients. Often, manufacturers come across different ingredients that may add an appealing, intriguing, unique or lucrative angle to their products and before they know it, they have created a one-of-a-kind functional food that is flying off the supermarket and pharmacy shelves. As Margaret Mankeiwicz, the import manager from Laboratoria Natury, said of last year’s show: “I have found products from India, China and across the world, which is perfect for me. It has been a very worthwhile trip.

This research opportunity is also inherent in the large number of seminars and workshops that take place at the exhibition. With such a quota of industry experts gathered in one place at one time, delegates would be hard-pressed to miss the latest scientific developments that are relevant to their particular fields.

The communication opportunities that surround exhibitions are also essential for both manufacturers and suppliers looking to ‘do business’. Unlike consumer industries where the messages are simpler and the concepts are easier to comprehend, in the nutraceutical market, complexities abound and it is much simpler for both parties to communicate face-to-face in a neutral environment, where all angles and eventualities can be explored.

As such, the sociable nature of exhibitions like Vitafoods International lend themselves well to networking. In the nutraceutical market, competition is fierce, so the more opportunities there are to meet with suppliers and thrash out opportunities, the better the chances of creating a product with a significant competitive advantage. Rachel Hipkiss, Sales Director at DCC Health & Beauty Solutions, told me last year: “Vitafoods International prvides an excellent opportunity to meet existing customers. And to meet new ones.”

As a marketer there have never been so many marketing mediums to choose from. Today, everyone talks about the importance of interactivity, but what is more interactive than being able to have a conversation with someone? No interactive medium is ever going to put you in front of a self-selective audience of active buyers more than an exhibition.

And that is why events like Vitafoods are so critical within the business-to-business marketing mix, and this year is no exception. Over 6,000 trade visitors are expected to gather in Geneva to see more than 450 exhibitors from across the world. No doubt there will be some serious negotiating, buying and learning going on.

Nick Craig Waller
Vitafoods