How Technology is Disrupting the Supplement Industry
Technology is one of the most, if not the most, important thing that shapes the world around us today. This is true both in terms of the physical landscape that we inhabit, the nature of the work that we do, and our recreational activities. In short, technology is everywhere.
The supplement industry is like any other industry in at least one regard - it too is at the mercy of technological innovation. Disruptive technologies can completely transform the way that an industry operates, for better or for worse. Below are some of the ways that technologies are currently disrupting the supplement industry.
Are Disruptive Technologies Good?
Disruptive technologies are both wildly exciting and potentially devastating. Sometimes businesses do everything right, and then a new technological innovation blindsides them and undermines their entire strategy. When this happens, new businesses are able to swoop in to fill the gaps by taking advantage of the new approach, whatever it may be.
Disruptive technologies are ultimately a good thing for the industry and for consumers. They encourage, or even force, industries to adapt to technologies that benefit consumers at the expense of businesses. Without disruptive technologies, businesses can strangle innovation where it suits them - the electric car industry has been throttled over the decades by oil interests. Of course, sometimes they enable the industry to lower their costs and improve their efficiency. Unfortunately, this sometimes comes at the expense of workers or consumers.
However, the supplement industry has so far proven to be fertile ground for innovations, which has benefits for both the industry and consumers.
Personalization is the future. When it comes to supplements, a one-size-fits-all approach is nowhere near as effective as a regimen that has been tailored specifically for a specific individual’s physiology and lifestyle. As we will come on to, manufacturing equipment is now affordable for many SMEs. This makes it possible to produce a personalized supplement pack in-store in the presence of the customer.
3D printing has come a long way since its inception. While we mostly still associate 3D printing with plastic, there is now a multitude of materials that can be incorporated into a 3D printed product. 3D printing supplements are now well within the realms of possibility. It also further enhances what we can do in terms of personalization.
It used to be that any business looking to break into the lucrative supplement market would need to either invest in a retail outlet somewhere where supplements and related products are likely to sell. Supplements, vitamins, and other dietary aids are all products that tend to appeal to more upmarket consumers. Given their cost, and that they require some degree of understanding with regards to what they are and what they do, the supplement industry caters to a mostly middle-class market.
This makes buying suitable real estate an expensive proposition. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to rely on a physical retail outlet in an upmarket part of town. Obviously, there is online shopping. However, another increasingly popular avenue is pop-up stores. These are small stalls set up on streets, within markets, or inside shopping malls where individual traders can sell their stock.
These stores have become possible thanks to the rise of localized manufacturing and distribution (see below). Now that a well-funded business can purchase their own manufacturing equipment or 3D print products, the dynamics of their expenses have changed dramatically.
More Affordable Manufacturing
A number of technologies have matured alongside one another, making it realistic for small businesses to invest in their own manufacturing infrastructure. This can significantly reduce the costs of operating a store, albeit at the cost of an inflated cost of entry into the market. The ability to produce supplement products for a relatively low cost has been great for small manufacturers.
It isn’t just manufacturers that have benefited from this shift - both consumers and retailers are also reaping the rewards of widespread access to low-cost manufacturing. Bigger retailers might even invest in their own manufacturing infrastructure, bulk ordering raw components, and using their own machinery to form it into a final product for the consumer.
What we have outlined above are just some of the current disruptive technologies that have been emerging for some time. It goes without saying that there is always the potential for new technologies to emerge seemingly out of thin air. Usually, these advances are actually the culmination of long periods of research, with R&D departments mining their best minds constantly for new innovations.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.