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I would like to propose that some of the biggest opportunities in performance products involve people who will never buy a tub of whey or add one scoop of amino acids to their smoothies. I’m talking about the runners, golfers, tennis players, yoga enthusiasts and youth soccer coaches who have never set foot in a sports nutrition store, but who are devoted users of what we call “edge products.”
Edge products is our term for mainstream foods, drinks, supplements and devices that carry promises of performance benefits such as stamina, strength, recovery and general wellbeing.
Gatorade is the granddaddy of edge products, developed for elite, D1 athletes and now found in grocery carts and minivan cup holders across the U.S. Edge product users drink Red Bull or 5-hour ENERGY for a little extra pop at work or in the gym. They put kinesio tape on their shoulders before workout class, may grab a “Revive” Vitamin Water when they’re done, and munch a Clif bar on the way home instead of a traditional snack.
From the standpoint of the gym or pro shop, you have to love what these edge brands deliver in terms of position and pricing. But I’d like to suggest that there is another role these products can play in helping to engage and motivate your members and visitors based on two different insights I’ve observed:
Everyone is looking for an edge. As we get older we become increasingly aware of the gap between our ideal athletic self and our real self. Frustration with this gap is what causes people to give up on sports and exercise. Edge products help counter this frustration by giving an increased sense of control, and reduced sense of futility.
People find validation in suffering. Among high-performing people, being dehydrated, sore or tired from exertion is tacitly recognized as a badge of valor. Reaching for an edge product is evidence that you have worked out hard enough to need that extra nutrition, hydration or pain relief.
All of this has led to the belief that seeing edge products just in terms of shelf space and margin misses the point. Providing edge products and actively working to match members with the right product to address their gaps and validate their hard work may be one of the most productive things you can do to keep them as committed and motivated members.
Michael McLinden is the general manager of Miscopeto, the maker of Sore+Tired. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.