Are Edgy Supplement Product Names Damaging the Industry or Smart Marketing?

by Matt Weik

Over the past decade, we have seen some pretty edgy supplement product names. Do such supplement product names help sell the products? Absolutely. If it sounds like a steroid or prescription drug people tend to flock to it thinking they bucked the system and are getting a pharmaceutical grade or underground product without a doctor’s prescription. While this may seem great for the consumer, it could be damaging the industry as a whole. This piece will give my two cents on the topic from both sides of the equation.

As with most things, there are generally two sides to every story. One side in this instance says it’s moving the needle with sales and the other side is potentially opening up a can of worms for more regulations and a deeper look under the microscope of our beloved supplement industry.

The topic of this article all stemmed from a new product release that I saw that claimed it was a “post gear” product and used by those who are coming off-cycle from hormone replacement therapy or some type of anabolic/steroid cycle. No, I’m not going to name any brand names in this article as I’m not looking to promote brands nor am I getting paid to speak about the products/brands. With that being said, let’s dive into the viewpoints.

Viewpoint 1: Smart Marketing

Just like sex sells, so do edgy supplement product names. Toss the name of a steroid or other drug on your label or something that resembles the actual steroid or drug name and watch it fly off the retailer’s shelves. Why is this? Because it’s smart marketing. It’s hard to deny that point. People want the most hardcore products they can find and using such supplement product names will move product by grabbing the attention of the consumer. Now, what I’ve found from my time in the industry is that many new or novice supplement users are generally the ones who fall into this marketing trap. The experienced users and OG’s know better than to fall into marketing hype.

The whole point of marketing is to help sell product and create a buzz and hype surrounding the “potential” benefits that can be had from such products. Toss a steroid name or something similar on a label and watch people flock to stores in hopes of finding the magic pill to give them the muscle gains they desire. Do some of them work? Absolutely. Do all of them meet label claims? No, and that brings lawsuits and negativity to the industry which leads us into the second viewpoint of this article.

Viewpoint 2: Industry Damaging

This viewpoint could piss off quite a few people and brands but it needs to be brought up and talked about. This viewpoint brings up the negative side to edgy supplement product names. Using steroid names for products or a similarity to the name of a steroid or drug could cause some unwanted eyeballs on our industry and products. There are already some very hardcore products on the market today and when brands don’t want to educate the consumer on the ingredients, they tend to use these edgy supplement product names.

In the past, such names have brought up lawsuits as well as product and ingredient bans. Some of these lawsuits and bans stem from using certain names or terms in supplement product names while others caused the powers that be to get products tested in an effort to figure out exactly what’s in a product (this be good or bad depending on if they meet label claims). Well, when brands don’t meet label claims or they actually put a drug in their profile without putting it on the label (which they know would be illegal) it obviously raises a red flag.

When the media covers lawsuits brought on by some of the examples I mentioned above, it gives the whole industry a black eye. Even legacy brands are scrutinized and have people wondering what’s really in their products and if they are safe to use. Again, this is extremely detrimental to the supplement industry.

Now, when the news hits about a shady product or profile, there are many consumers who try to buy up all of the products either for personal consumption or to resell on the black market once they are banned and pulled from the market. This brings up a shady side of the industry which again, we don’t need.

The mentality of “any press is good press” I don’t feel is a good thing for our industry. When negative press hits the media and a “scare” is blasted across media sources that a supplement brand or product was found to have x, y, z in it, the legitimacy of the industry somewhat gets thrown out the window. Now, that’s not to say that the die-hard supplement users are swayed in a different direction with their purchasing behaviors. But rather, it hurts the demographic who is on the fence about using supplements and can ultimately push them further away rather than gaining trial and turning those consumers into brand loyalists.

What’s My FINAL Take?

I’m all for marketing that helps boost sales, gain trial, and helps people get the results they desire. But that can come with a cost if brands cross the line with some extremely edgy supplement product names. I’m not here to tell supplement brands what to do, how to market their products, or even what to put in their products. What I’m bringing to light is that we, as an industry, need to think about the potential consequences as a whole.

Should the powers that be come in and regulate supplements and the industry even further, they could completely change the supplements we currently see on the market today. This could cause brands to fold and go out of business. Ultimately causing people to lose their jobs and even negatively their livelihood. We need to be smarter as an industry. Go ahead and market your products, but leave the over-hyped supplement product names alone and for everyone’s sake and health, make sure you are meeting your label claims. We don’t have room in our industry for shady brands.

What’s your take on this topic? Are edgy supplement product names a great way to market and make sales or is it causing unwanted attention that could potentially harm and damage the industry? Let us know in the comments.