How Supplement Companies Use Marketing Tricks to Steal Your Money
*Supplement Con Job
Have you ever bought a bottle of pills that promised to help you lose weight but didn't? Have you ever picked up a box of powder that claimed it would help you add muscle, but couldn't? Have you ever wasted your money on fat loss, muscle building or dietary supplements that just didn't work?
If you have, then you've been suppleconned. A supplement company somewhere has reached down into your wallet or purse and conned you out of your hard-earned money. It's time you fought back.
This is a guide that anyone can use to objectively look at supplement marketing. The warning signs you should be aware of in their advertisements and how to protect yourself. Let's pretend we're trying to sell a supplement called "SPLORG." Here's how the typical cons work.
Con #1 - Look at the beautiful model shown with SPLORG!
You're glancing through a magazine and they seem to jump right out. It's a beautiful body and a smiling face. Ads that feature a face are more than twice as likely to be noticed, so supplement companies use them, a lot. Of course, those smiling faces are on top of a beautiful body and usually, they're holding the product.
Now keep in mind, unless it specifically says so in the ad, the person featured in that advertisement did NOT get that way because of the product that's featured. Models pose for pictures all the time. Often, the photographer will have the model sign a release that allows them to use their picture any way they want. Then the photographer sells the photo to a stock photo agency, who then sells it again to Brand X supplement (such as SPLORG) because the model fits the look the supplement manufacturer wants.
The model is there to draw you in, nothing more. You won't look like the model if you take the supplement, but the supplement companies want you to think you will.
Con #2 - We've got testimonials from John B. and Suzy Q. and they LOVE SPLORG!
Testimonials don't count, because they mean absolutely nothing. A testimonial is not proof something works; it's just one person's opinion. Insist on cold hard facts to convince you, not a paid mouthpiece.
Con #3 - We're using charts, graphs and pictures to hide the fact that SPLORG has never been tested and it almost certainly won't do what we claim!
"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull***t" Filling up pages with charts, graphs and statistics doesn't make something legitimate. Read the claims and the fine print carefully.
For example, if it says, "SPLORG is the number one selling protein supplement." That doesn't mean it works. That just means more people have been convinced to buy it.
Another clever trick is to show an illustration of how a particular bodily mechanism works to drop fat or build muscle. Then supplement companies insert their product in the middle of the picture and describe how they can speed up, enhance or somehow boost the body's natural ability to perform that function.
Drawing a picture doesn't make it so.
At the very least, you want the supplement company to have conducted a double-blind study, where two groups of people went through the same program, but one got the supplement and one didn't. That study should have been conducted on a minimum of 50 people for at least 3-6 months. Those studies should be performed on humans, not tissue or animals. The supplement company is promoting a product to aid in your health. If they haven't bothered to test it on people, you shouldn't bother purchasing it.
One more thing, you want the supplement company to make that report available for you to read. (You'd be amazed how many companies told us their scientific studies weren't available.) If it's not available, you must assume they're lying. Remember, the fewer the people and/or the shorter the study, the less reliable the conclusions are.
Con #4 - SPLORG is safe and effective; we're registered with the FDA!
"Registered with the FDA" or "USDA Approved Facility" are phrases that have fooled millions of people into believing that somehow the product is tested, works and it's safe. In fact, they mean nothing like that at all.
The bioterrorism act of 2002 requires companies that intend to sell food be "inspected on a cyclical basis to determine compliance." The FDA even released a statement to clear the issue up that says (in part):
We do not approve or certify food products or firms. We do not have a list of "approved" facilities because they do not require approval. There is no such thing as a list for "approved facilities" or "registered OTC dietary supplements."
That statement was from Ms. Jeannine Ertter, the Senior Public Affairs Specialist with the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition within the FDA.
Registered with the FDA is nothing more than a letter from the supplement company notifying the FDA they intend to sell food. It does NOT mean they are a reputable company or that their product is in any way safe or effective. That's it.
So to recap, here's what you need to do:
- Ignore smiling faces and pretty bodies; they're generally paid models.
- Don't consider testimonials; they're not scientific proof.
- Look past the illustrations, charts and graphs. Ask for facts in the form of real medical studies you can read.
- Consider it a con if phrases like "Registered with the FDA" or other vague references to federal agencies are used.
Save your money and protect your health. Don't fall for the supplecons!
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