Natural Products Industry with Scott Dicker

Consumer Behavior in the Natural Products Industry with Scott Dicker of SPINS

Episode Overview

Episode Topic: In this episode of NutraPreneur,  we delve into the dynamic world of consumer insights and trend analysis in the natural products industry with Scott Dicker, Market Insights Director at SPINS. The discussion revolves around the evolving landscape of sports nutrition and natural products, emphasizing the importance of understanding shopper values and connecting them to product innovation. Scott shares his wealth of experience, having spent seven and a half years at SPINS, and highlights the company’s approach to consumer insights across conventional, eCommerce, and natural channels for a comprehensive understanding of marketplace dynamics.

Lessons You’ll Learn: Listeners gain valuable insights into the strategic role SPINS plays in maximizing the value of information for the natural products industry. Scott unfolds success stories where SPINS’ insights have driven growth and innovation, offering actionable business solutions for brands in the nutraceutical sector. The conversation extends to the future trends in the industry and how SPINS positions itself to stay ahead by identifying and interpreting emerging consumer and market dynamics.

About Our Guest: Scott Dicker, the Market Insights Director at SPINS, brings a unique blend of passion for the sports nutrition and natural product industry coupled with a deep understanding of data and trend analysis. With a background in nutritional science and nutritional chemistry, Scott’s expertise positions him as a thought leader in the field. Having been with SPINS for over seven years, he has contributed significantly to the company’s mission of driving positive growth in the natural products industry.
Topics Covered: The podcast covers a range of topics, including SPINS’ mission and impact on the industry, the company’s role in shaping strategies based on retail consumer insights, and the collaborative efforts within the industry to ensure a common language in understanding emerging trends. Scott also offers a glimpse into upcoming projects and innovations at SPINS that reflect the company’s commitment to staying at the forefront of the natural products industry. Listeners can anticipate in-depth discussions on current and future trends, with a focus on women’s health, active nutrition, and emerging categories like joint and bone health.

Our Guest: Scott Dicker’s Vision for Natural Products Excellence.

Scott Dicker, the Market Insights Director at SPINS, brings a wealth of experience and passion to the sports nutrition and natural product industry. With a background in nutritional science and chemistry, he initially worked as a sports nutritionist, gaining hands-on experience in the field. Over his seven and a half years at SPINS, Scott has traversed various roles, starting from the product intelligence team, where he delved into data and attribute syndication, to leading customer insights teams and eventually becoming the Market Insights Director. His journey has equipped him with a unique perspective, enabling him to blend nutritional expertise with data and trend analysis.

Scott’s dedication extends beyond his role at SPINS; he is also a nutrition writer and presenter, sharing his insights with a broader audience. His passion for active nutrition and supplements is evident as he emphasizes the industry’s evolution from niche markets to mainstream consumer preferences. With a keen eye for market dynamics, Scott focuses on translating data into actionable insights, guiding brands to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the natural products sector.

In addition to his professional roles, Scott is known for his excellent customer service, sales acumen, and marketing experience within the natural product and sports nutrition industry. His multifaceted background positions him as a valuable resource for brands seeking to understand consumer behavior, identify trends, and develop effective strategies for success in the competitive nutraceutical market.

Natural Products Industry with Scott Dicker


Episode Transcript:

Scott Dicker: Creatine was the top-growing functional ingredient of 2023. It’s probably going to have a pretty good year in 2024. I know there’s some legislation out there that might hinder it in a few states, but active nutrition as a whole should be a big growth driver. Other categories microbiome and mushrooms, I think are very interesting. I think they might level off for a little bit before going back up when there’s new research and products available.

Bethany Jolley: Welcome to Neutral Preneur The Neutral Industry podcast. I’m your host, food scientist and nutraceuticals consultant Bethany Jolley. Each episode will be exploring what it takes to thrive in the nutraceutical industry. From conversations with successful nutraceutical entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to tech executives whose innovations are reshaping the nutraceutical industry. We explore the innovations and trends that are shaping the next generation of nutraceutical businesses. Welcome to Neutral Preneur. Welcome to Neutra Preneur. Today we have Scott Dicker, Market Insights director at SPINS, a Chicago-based leader in retail consumer insights for the natural, organic, and specialty products industry. Scott’s passion for the sports nutrition and natural product industry, combined with his expertise in data and trend analysis, brings a unique perspective to our discussion. Welcome, Scott. It’s so great to have you today.

Scott Dicker: Thanks so much for having me on, Bethany. I am excited to be here.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. So first of all, I think it’d be great if you could share with us some of the experience experiences that you have that have shaped your understanding of consumer insights and trend analysis and the sports nutrition and natural product industries.

Scott Dicker: Absolutely. And I’m like how you took that bio. It must have been from one of the sports nutrition presentations that we have upcoming, but we do cover the entire store at SPINS. And I’ve been at SPINS now for, I believe, seven and a half years.  I started off on our product intelligence team, and that’s where we really dive into the different views of the data. So we’re we’re developing attributes syndicated hierarchies.  so this is really how to shape it. I manage the team of customer insights over there. So, it’s working directly with customers, understanding how they’re looking at the data, and also developing what types of views we want to see what ingredients are trending, how can we stay ahead of the trends what categories are going up? How do retailers look at the categories, and things like that. And then I spent the past I don’t know, 3 or 4 years now, doing Market insights. So I do a lot of our presentations at conferences and webinars. I created a lot of our thought leadership material.  and I know we’re focused on, the supplement space today, but we do cover the entire store.  prior to my time at SPINS, my background is in nutritional science and nutritional chemistry. I certified sports nutritionist as well. So I worked as a sports nutritionist, for a bit. And,  Yeah excited. So that, kind of, that whole thing kind of shapes, you know, how we’re looking at the data.  I love the active nutrition space as well as the supplement space where you can kind of see what’s going on. in the health and wellness space, we know health and wellness has been really a major trend throughout the entire throughout the entire industry. And a lot of it stems from the supplement space. So, for example, seeing mood support supplements doing well, a few years ago now we see that shifting into functional beverages. So, it’s a great way to see kind of what’s coming to the broader grocery sector, but also active nutrition since that is my favorite space. that’s been the category that’s really driving the growth of all supplements over the past couple of years. It’s been the fastest-growing category of each of the past three years. And a lot of people really recognize that this category is for overall health. And it’s not just for, you know, elite or competitive athletes.

Bethany Jolley: Right, absolutely. I think looking into what consumers really want for whether it’s supplements or any products that are being sold in the stores. So, I think, it’d be good to talk about “how does SPINS approach consumer insights and analytics across conventional e-commerce and natural channels for a comprehensive understanding of marketplace dynamics?”

Scott Dicker: SPINS has really unique perspective where we have, to get point-of-sale data from a variety of retailers. We have a partnership with Circrna, formerly IRI, where we get the conventional, you know, your Walmart targets, Kroger’s of the world, the data but then proprietary to SPINS. we get the natural channel regional independent grocery channels and a couple of others. But let me just stop there real quick. We see a lot of the trends happening first in the natural channel. So while it’s a smaller segment, it’s really where a lot of the trends bubble up. So it’s a great predictor of what’s to come. So, we have the unique view of getting a lot of the natural channel only. E additionally have the ability, to see what’s happening on Amazon where no surprise. Right.  that’s a growing market where people are shopping online.  and, and you’re able to track kind of what trends are doing better in brick-and-mortar versus online. a lot of times there’s they have first online, then they in mortar. But there are also trends that happen first in-store, then shift online. So you kind of get an understanding of of where trends are originating, what brands may have started out as DTC brands and are going to make their way into retail really disrupting the section. And then also we also have exclusive relationships with the leading specialty retailers in the space. so that’s Vitamin Shoppe and GNC, along with a few others. So, what’s unique about supplements? In my opinion. Is that specialty retailers still play such an important role in both educating and bringing up new products, new trends, and new brands? So, having that view, and that relationship with GNC and Vitamin Shoppe, when you combine that with Amazon and the Natural Channel, it really gives SPINS a unique ability, to see the entire or close to the entire space. and that can shape how we see what’s going on today. And more importantly, for a lot of brands and retailers, what’s going to happen in the future?

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you bring up a good point with, you know, like GNC, for instance. I feel like when you go in there to shop for supplements or if you’re looking for something, typically it’s a smaller space. There are employees in there that tend to know a bit more about the products and seem to be more in tune with what’s selling or what might be best for your needs, versus going to Walmart, where you’re kind of on your own when you’re looking for a supplement there.

Scott Dicker: You bring up a great point. So, I used to say that it was like the omnichannel approach, right? People sometimes shop online, they sometimes shop in-store. But as we’ve kind of evolved, there’s really just one channel, right? Everything is kind of everywhere now. so I always like to bring up this analogy, like you could be walking into any store, but let’s say you’re walking through a conventional retailer, you see a product that catches your eye, you might just bring out your phone and look up more about it right there. And the same thing goes the other way, too. A lot of research is done online. And then the next time you’re in, let’s say a GNC or a Walgreens or whatever, you see it. And that’s what drove you to make the purchase. So really, it’s kind of it’s kind of everywhere. Now, this omnichannel is really just one channel of kind of on-demand shopping. So, the specialty stores and I want to also give a plug for a lot of the natural retailers are still, very knowledgeable in the supplement space. having the knowledgeable staff, having the innovative brands that people are looking for, right off the bat, you know, some of the conventional stores have done a better job bringing those brands in early, but it’s sometimes it’s hard for them to stay, you know, a lot of times still like kind of the grassroots approach of starting in specialty and natural, building your brand up, bringing, building your customer base and of course, your DTC and Amazon, you know, is included in that. before going to some of those mass retailers sometimes oftentimes that’s a strategy for long-term success.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. And I’d say that SPINS aims to maximize the value of information for growing the natural product industry. So, how does the company provide information and insight for actionable business solutions in the nutraceutical industry?

Scott Dicker: I mentioned the exclusive data, right? That’s very important, especially for brands. to get a full view of both their business, their competitors’ business, and the landscape of, the industry. but that data doesn’t mean as much if you don’t know how to interpret it and pull out insights from it. And that’s where Spin’s product intelligence really comes in. I mentioned, you know, I was on the product intelligence team to start my SPINS career, and it’s gotten, you know, it’s evolved so much even in a couple of years since I’ve moved over to a different department. but you’re able to, track things like, as zoomed out as you want. So just like, what does the category look like for creatine or protein powder? Or you can zoom in to say, I only want to look at chocolate protein powder that’s using pea protein as a source, using no artificial, sweeteners, and is labeled organic and certified non-GMO project. So we have these exclusive attribute suites. So you can see how label claims are impacting sales. what ingredients are trending in supplements, obviously it’s very important what functional ingredients you know, are there again.  you know, we hear a lot about, for example, functional mushrooms. Which mushroom is it? and also we have this blend of the data with subject matter experts that kind of is like the art and science-backed, combo, where we can say this product is positioned as an immune health product, for example, or a digestive health product or a pre-workout, just for example. And that way you can see, what different types of ingredients are having success as they position themselves for. So, this is really exciting. And I’ll give you another example, probiotics. Most people think of them as digestive health products. I bet you if I asked you, Bethany, that would be like the first thing that came to your mind, right? But we’re able to track now that probiotic sticks are doing really well when they’re positioned for women’s health issues or immune health or brain health products. So, understanding, how you can grow the industry without even introducing a new ingredient, there are just different uses for kind of age-old ingredients. that’s one of the key takeaways I know you know, we were talking offline a little bit about ingredient suppliers. That’s a big way. We work with ingredient suppliers and help them understand what the market looks like for their ingredients beyond just their most common use. but also, you know, just providing education on some of these products and the ingredients through the attributes and the and the insights that we’re able to pull out of them, it really helps build the entire industry has had a more educated customer base and really maximize your if you’re a brand, your retail strategy, your product development, where there’s white space, maybe. How are you? What opportunities are you missing? And the labeling of your products?  What sweeteners are available to you? I always go back to that one because I think that’s very interesting. When we talk about things like energy drinks and pre-workouts, you know, so many of them I don’t know if I’m aging myself a bit, but I remember, like, being in high school, in college, and it was like, all, like, very, very bro marketing a lot of these sports nutrition products. So, you’re nodding your head. So I guess you know what I’m talking about. So, now we’re seeing that shift. It’s softer marketing, removing some of those like bright colors and artificial sweeteners and flavors. And it’s really become more of an inclusive category where it had always predominantly been only about young men, you know, looking to get jacked. And now it’s really about, you know, maintaining that healthy lifestyle. throughout, the aging, aging process, healthy aging is actually one of the biggest trends we’re seeing. So, being able to pull that out, understanding what channel, is best for that strategy if you’re a brand, I know, you know, you mentioned that a lot of these are emerging brands. So understanding, what retailers would you be a good fit for? That’s something that we help brands with.  so it’s not just kind of let’s, let’s guess and hope that it works out. It’s really you can target the retailers. Since we work with so many of retailers, we understand what building a successful pitch deck looks like. We help brands with that as well. and also we know what they want to see. So, you know, understanding what data points are important to talk to retailers about getting in there. And once you get into a few retailers, we also can help you with, like, your promotion strategy, you know, what’s going to get you the most bang for your buck. So, we work with these, this level of brands in a variety of ways. And really when it comes to the supplement space, we’re really the only company that has access. All this data.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. That’s incredible. And I think, you know, such an important resource for new brands because they might not know how to market their product to these larger retailers, or they might think they really want to get into this specific retailer. But when you take a look at the big picture, they’d be a better fit for this other retailer. So I think being able to utilize SPINS as a resource would be very beneficial.

Scott Dicker: Absolutely. And it goes it goes well beyond that. So, it’s like managing your Amazon business. You know, we can help you with that. and each channel is so different. so it’s helping you navigate, you know, what’s working great for you on Amazon might not work for you at, at a natural retailer, for example, or might not work for you at Target. So, it’s really navigating those different channels, understanding where you can use data, where you need to be disruptive. and what’s going on in the industry as a whole. What trends are out there?  I’ll give a little plug for myself that we always do, like, some of the state of supplements, and content at big shows like Expo West. I think you probably pulled it from the Active Nutrition Summit that I’ll be at,  So, understanding the latest happenings in the industry is going to really, help these brands find their audience, and find their retail partners for the best chance of success.

Bethany Jolley: This episode is brought to you by if your business needs credit card processing that fully integrates with most major Nutra software platforms, offers the lowest industry prices, and has built-in features like recurring billing, $0 trials, and chargeback prevention. Then visit us at for a free online quote. Can you share with us any success stories or initiatives where SPINS insights played a pivotal role in driving growth and innovation in the natural products sector?

Scott Dicker: Well, it’s grown tremendously. So, you can ask any of our many of our clients, and they will tell you that we’ve helped them tremendously. I can’t give you specific client examples, today, but, you know, a lot of it’s helping expand and expand the retail footprint, expand their product innovation you know, working with a lot of brands recently who have been, you know, trying to move from Amazon to retail. Understanding like what makes sense there, but also as like product development. so understanding, what where the white space is or what needs can their current product, set fit? So, you know, we mentioned creatine earlier.  we’re seeing a big push now for creatine for cognitive health. So, so showing that there’s a demand for certain other categories, in their current product set is one, that we do often.  And yeah, it’s really like, you know, maximizing their output, getting their promotion strategy. on point, like where can they take price, where, where do they have to be a little more aggressive on promo? We’re about to release a in January. I don’t know when this is going to go live in January. We’re going to release a supplement newsletter around the seasonality of products. So, that’s something else that that people need to keep in mind. so really endless ways we work with brands of all different sizes across the entire store.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. So, for the more established brands that you, you might have a larger data set on. Is there anything they can do with that data for like a marketing perspective for say?

Scott Dicker: A lot, yes.  So, so bigger brands, you know, they use it, you know, not as much to build their retail pitch decks. They’re they’re usually pretty pretty good at that. They’ve had that experience. But then it’s you know, we have brands that use it, you know, understanding which brands to, to look at for maybe acquisition, but also really to understand the category for new product development and innovation and then therefore disruption. So we see a lot of innovation, which is a lot of new products coming into the market. And then the disruption comes for like where can they actually take a large percentage of market share. So, understanding the full landscape, what brands are up and coming, understanding the competitive landscape, and who’s your true competition. Right. if you’re a small brand you know, the biggest brand at Walmart or on Amazon it’s probably not your most direct competitor.  you probably want to look at some different niches to build your brand base, you know, whether it’s in the organic gummy space or whatever it is. but there are use cases, regardless of if you’re an if you have a, you know, $100,000 in sales or $1 billion in sales, I it’s just you get a little savvier with the data usually as you get a little bigger.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s that’s a good point as well. I’ve talked to a few brands where I’ll ask, you know, who are your competitors or who are you trying to compete with. So, sometimes they don’t even know or they’ll say a brand. And then when I think about it, I don’t see the connection between the two. So I think being able to understand that data is, is really important.

Scott Dicker: Yeah. Like if you were starting Bethany’s, soda company and your first competitor probably wouldn’t be Coca-Cola, right? Right. Like, so it’s really understanding, you know, how you’re positioned in the market, where you’re where you’re going to go after to have the best chance of success, and how you want to grow your brand strategically.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. And this industry is constantly evolving and changing and innovation is such a big piece. What trends do you foresee in the nutraceutical industry, and how does SPINSs’position itself to stay at the forefront of identifying and interpreting these trends?

Scott Dicker:  let me take the second question first. and then then I’ll get into some of my trends for, for for 2024.  so one, we’re tracking ingredients.  we’re always adding new ingredients and new attributes to our data. So we could kind of uncover them as soon as they hit the market.  we were tracking CBD before it hit the market when it was five, or six years ago. we started tracking other cannabinoids in there as well. We’re tracking all the mushrooms. Like, we try to stay ahead of it by through our, you know, our deep knowledge of the industry by creating the data views before they actually hit the market. So that as soon as they start scanning in the first store, we’re tracking it. So that’s one of the ways we are always staying ahead of the curve is updating the data. again, we have exclusively the data from the innovation channels, which is how you see things before they go mainstream by definition. Right. and then when it comes to what my predictions are for do you just stick to 20, 24 or do you want to go longer?

Bethany Jolley: But you can go longer if you’d like, if you have some insight.

Scott Dicker:  well, we could have some do some long-term predictions, but, for the immediate 2024, I think the category to really look out for is women’s health. we see we’ve seen a lot of inklings. a lot of these women’s health products were actually down, in 2023. but there’s a lot of attention on it. We see a lot more brands popping up that are or line extensions that are focused specifically on, on like female female issues, perimenopause, menopause you know, throughout the menstruation cycle, things like that. and a lot of these brands are big DTC right now. You know, I think that they’re going to get into major retailers this year and it’s going to be a big boom. We talked about sports nutrition a lot. We see a lot of products now focusing on women in that area as well. Research studies have almost always neglected women, especially in sports nutrition. we’re seeing that that change a little bit. So I think there’s an opportunity for that. So I would really focus on women’s health.  In 2024 and beyond. I think that’s something to keep. Keep an eye out for it.  active nutrition again, was the largest growing category for each of the past three years. It will probably be a fourth year in 2024. in addition to the addition of women, we’re seeing aging populations playing in the category more.

Scott Dicker: You know, part of it’s that softening of the marketing I talked about. But a lot of it also is this consumer mindset shift of kind of trying to increase their health span which is, you know, I So, someone else told me this line, so I don’t want to take full credit for it, but it’s everyone wants to die young now, just as late as possible. So, as you think about that, people are going to be looking to take care of themselves and stay active. So, active nutrition is going to play a big role in that.  protein, obviously, you know, is one of the key drivers around that. But for some of the more specialty products we saw, creatine was the top growing functional ingredient of 2023. it’s probably going to have a pretty good year in 2024. I know there’s some legislation out there that might hinder it in a few states. but active nutrition as a whole should be a big growth driver. what else? What else do you want to talk about? What other trends here are any other categories? Microbiome and mushrooms I think are very interesting. I think they might level off for a little bit before going back up when there’s new research and products available.

Bethany Jolley: I think because I have, I’ve seen mushrooms kind of that’s been a keyword for a while. but I’m excited to see more women’s health products become available because like you said, I think exercise and strength training has always just been associated with men. But, you know, as time goes on, we’ve discovered there are really important aspects for strength training for women as well. But you don’t really know what products to buy because they still feel like they’re geared towards men. So it’ll be nice to see some women’s products on the market?

Scott Dicker: And what I also want to see, and I think we will see, is that they will make women’s products that aren’t just the regular version, but like less protein, or like there’s a lot of times they’ll do that, they’ll say, this is the women’s version and it’s the same as the regular one. Just like instead of 20g of protein, it’s 15 and they still charge more for it. so I think we’re going to get away from that and to some more, you know, formulas for women.  I always say this analogy, it’s like a lot of women for a long time, because of the marketing of a lot of the active nutrition products, they thought that they would get bulky if they took creatine or I see you see your nodding. So maybe that thought crossed your head at some point. But then I always say if that were true, every guy would look the same and there’d only be one product and a line around the door, all day long. so it’s it’s not. That’s not how it works. I’m. You can be these products will benefit, you know women as well. I do want to talk about two categories that I’ve been waiting to see a pop on that we haven’t quite seen yet.  I think joint health and bone health are two categories that I’m very interested in.  I think that if active nutrition has been the top growing category for three years, I’m predicting a fourth year, it’s only logical to me that people are going to start to need some joint and bone health supplements. I know personally when I get a little when I get when I’m hitting a hard exercise regime, my joints are usually feeling it. so I think we’ll see that it might take some reimagination or some new products there. If people are a little tired of some of the category ingredients right now. But those are two categories for the maybe not this year, but the short-term, maybe two, three years to keep a lookout for.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, and I agree with that. I think, you know, like you said, people are trying to age better, I guess you could say trying to maintain youthfulness and joint support goes along with that for sure.

Scott Dicker: Yeah. joints and joint and bone health. I don’t know anyone who’s anyone who’s done any sports, probably has some sort of joint problems. So, as more people get involved, especially as people are entering at an older age, they might think joint health is something to really be on the lookout for. Maybe it’s just anti-inflammation products. but. Keep a lookout for it.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, and I think that’s important. Even for those that have stayed active. I’ve I know myself, I’ve tried to stay active, but I still feel like my joints just don’t quite feel the same as they used to.

Scott Dicker: I’m with you, Bethany.

Scott Dicker: Yes. So, could you provide a glimpse into any upcoming projects or innovations at SPINS that reflect the company’s commitment to driving positive growth in the natural products industry?

Scott Dicker:  so I’ll let me give you, my perspective first. just based on my role, we’re releasing our 2024 trends predictions piece in January. It’s not exclusively, supplements and nutraceuticals. It’s over the overall industry. But a lot of the themes that we talked about will be going into more in-depth.  we also do have programs, for some of these small and emerging brands specifically for them that can help them, you know, again, jump-start their, their retail launch, whether it’s just managing their Amazon package, and specializing in the vitamin, this is specific to some vitamins and supplements brands. So I would encourage everyone to reach out. I’d love to talk to all of you, about that. And give us a quick follow. We’re always posting some data reports, some trends So, I thought leadership around the industry.

Bethany Jolley: So, I guess what? They just need to reach out to you from the links that we provide, are the reports publicized on the website or how does that work?

Scott Dicker:  Great question.  most of them should be on the SPINS’ website. shared on our social as well. you can always reach out to me personally, I’d be happy to connect with all your brands and connect you to the right people. If it’s not me. within SPINS or within the industry at large. And. Yeah, we’d love to love to, you know, talk to brands. I’m very passionate about the space, as you imagine. So I always love to hear what people are doing, and what new products people are bringing to market.

Bethany Jolley: Well, great. It’s been so great talking with you today and learning more about SPINS and all of the resources that you have available and as we conclude this insightful conversation, our gratitude goes to Scott Dicker for sharing his experiences and shedding light on SPINS pivotal role in shaping the natural products industry. For more information on SPINS contributions and insights, we encourage you to explore the provided links. Stay tuned for more thought-provoking discussions on neutral Preneur, and don’t forget to engage with us on social media. Until next time, stay informed and inspired in the realm of nutraceutical innovations. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Nutra Preneur. If you enjoy the show, please subscribe and better yet, leave us a review as it really helps us grow the show.