On Capitol Hill: snapshot of the consumer

Wiley DCA few weeks ago GOED had the opportunity to participate with one of our members, Wiley’s Finest, in a Senate health fair that took place “on the hill” in Washington DC. The event was organized by Sister to Sister, a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to educate women about protecting their hearts.   


During the four-hour event, almost 200 Senate staffers showed up to get a health screening, which was sponsored by Johns Hopkins and included blood pressure and cholesterol testing and body mass index (BMI) measurement. Several heart healthy exhibitors — including the California Olive Oil Council and Zoe’s Chocolates — handed out samples, while a local yoga studio offered chair messages, which is certainly one way to reduce stress levels and promote lower blood pressure. GOED shared a table with Wiley’s Finest right next to another GOED member, Seafood Nutrition Partnership, who is working to increase seafood consumption in the U.S. Both companies gave out samples of omega-3 rich products — canned fish and supplements from Seafood Nutrition Partnership, and omega-3 supplements in soft gel or liquid form from Wiley’s Finest — and we got to hear a lot of feedback on how consumers think. Here are some anecdotes we heard:


• Everyone knew something about omega-3s, but only about half of the visitors said they took a fish oil product (and they called it “fish oil” rather than “omega-3s”).


• The users were primarily over 45 years old. Most of the younger visitors had no idea why they should take omega-3s.


• Surprisingly, none of the people knew what brand they took, although most knew where they bought it…and many said Costco or Sam’s Club.


• We heard a lot of comments about fishy burp and aftertaste and many asked for suggestions on how to prevent that.


• Wiley’s Finest had samples of the company’s liquid product, and most attendees – sometimes apprehensively – tasted a sample. No one complained about the taste, but almost all the women tasters had an issue with the consistency of the oil.


• We talked to a lot of lapsed users and when we asked why they stopped taking an omega-3 product, no one really had a good reason. Some said, “Oh, I just forget” or “I ran out and never bought another bottle,” rather than citing a specific reason like price or a negative media story.


• Inevitably, Dr. Oz is always part of a consumer conversation but in this case only one visitor — a 50+ man  — brought up his name.  The unfortunate story he shared was that “Dr. Oz used to tell me to take omega-3s every day, but now I heard he says I should only take them three times a week because they’re bad for my prostate.”


We set him straight on the prostate story, but it’s clear from these conversations that we as an industry still have our work cut out for us in terms of education, motivating customers and improving the sensory experience.