The Food Babe’s campaign against “yuckiness” is just one of many fear-mongering attempts in the supplement industry that bases its scare tactics on the complexity of ingredient names. According to Hari, if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t consume it. This sort of consumer education (and miseducation) puts supplement and beauty brands in the position of having to respond to concerns, without sounding dismissive or untrustworthy.
Chemical Names Only Sound Scary
Cobalamin certainly sounds like a dangerous chemical until you find out that it’s the chemical name for a B vitamin. Tocopherols and phylloquinone are equally harmless nutrients. In large amounts, any benign chemical can be harmful, even water. Scaremongering is often used as a marketing strategy by pharmaceutical companies and alternative medicine practitioners alike. Fake news purveyor Mike Adams demonizes supplements specifically to undercut his rivals, while Dr Oz is happy to disparage any brands that aren’t paying him for advertising.
How to Respond to Rivals’ Scaremongering
Online smear campaigns are a favorite marketing technique across sectors, and they can cause severe damage to your reputation. When they have enough reach, they demand action. Proactive responses can do more than simply quash negative publicity. They’re an excellent opportunity to gain even more market share. Consumers respect businesses that react diplomatically, and it’s not unusual for large brands to use humor to gain favor. Humor is an excellent approach to dealing with criticism if it fits your brand persona; otherwise, tread carefully and stick to the high road.
If smear campaigns persist despite your brand’s response, you might have to take legal action. This option opens up when smear campaigns are based on blatant lies. If a rival is committing libel, slander, or harassment, they’re breaking the law.
Of course, some smear campaigns are based on truth. When Walgreens attracted negative publicity for mislabelling its supplements, it had to remove its products nationwide. Ethical labelling is crucial in the supplement industry, and prevention is better than a cure. Choose a manufacturer who uses comprehensive quality control measures, and you remove your rivals’ scaremongering fodder from day one.