Overcoming the Unique Challenges of Building a Supplement Brand

The supplement industry is huge, and there are more than 400 sports nutrition brands alone. While the market may seem saturated, however, there’s still room for newcomers building a supplement brand who can meet the needs of underserved markets or offer a novel product. Still, a lot of supplement brands end up failing, mainly because they didn’t properly conduct their market research. 

There are many hurdles that supplement businesses have to get over when getting started, and it’s always better to get familiar with them beforehand so you’ll be better prepared. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges you’ll have to face when building a supplement brand.

Underestimating the Regulatory Hurdles

One of the biggest misconceptions supplement startups have is that they don’t need to worry about regulatory agencies like the FDA. However, the supplement sector is tightly regulated, and it’s essential that you understand what you need to do to be compliant.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates supplements under the current good manufacturing practices or CGMP rules. These rules are applied to all pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities around the world, and they also apply to companies that make active ingredients and final products. These guidelines apply to companies that market and distribute dietary supplements too, so make sure that you’re familiar with them before you start, and consider speaking with a lawyer or consultant.

Poor Formulations

Supplement manufacturers often assume that they just need to throw a few things together to get a viable product, but, throwing in a little of everything you’ve seen in an internet search will result in a weak product formulation that consumers will hate. Another thing you have to avoid is skimping on ingredients or adding too much filler to save money.

Another mistake is simply ordering a formulation from a catalog. If you do this, you’ll end up with the same product as everyone else, and you’ll lose to those with better marketing or better margins due to bulk buying. Instead, you should invest in professional scientific advisors to come up with a unique, value-added product to offer to the public. 


When building a supplement brand, some people may automatically assume that outsourcing manufacturing is the best way to go. However, you’ll be paying someone else quite a bit of money to package powders, herbs, and other compounds you can get elsewhere. 

On the other hand, you can substantially improve your profit margins by buying equipment and running it in your own, FDA compliant facility. You should start by investing in a good automatic capsule filling machine. They come with a warranty and customer support if you choose a good manufacturer. This will allow you to lower the cost per bottle, and it gives you the ability to create small experimental batches for a reasonable price. You’ll be able to do A/B testing, test potential products, or create seasonal products.

Failing to Get Good Enough Coverage

Too many supplement firms skip the full insurance coverage they need. However, you will at least need product liability insurance and directors’ and officers’ insurance. You should also consider getting inventory insurance in addition to property insurance. This type of coverage ensures that you will receive money to replace your inventory if your warehouse burns down, not just the cost of repairing the building.

Not Consulting with Legal Experts at Every Stage of the Process

The supplement business is risky and you could be sued if someone thinks your product harmed them. You could face patent claims, which are very common in the industry and could end up costing you a lot of money. This could be disastrous if you’re just getting started.

Get legal advice on everything from the wording on labels to what your spokesperson can say in interviews. You should also consider having lawyers on retainer so that you can run any questions or concerns by them. It would be wise to save up a legal defense fund so that you have the money to pay for legal bills if and when a problem arises.

The supplement business, while very competitive, can also be extremely profitable. However, when building a supplement brand you have to find a niche, make it work, and avoid the pitfalls that kill so many startups in this competitive industry.

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