Neo G Expands U.S. & European Retail Footprint with ECRM 7/30/2021
As someone on the heels of turning 50 who works out regularly, things hurt. Tendonitis, knee and back pain, muscle pulls, and random aches and pains around the body come with the territory. Indeed, during my morning run through Astoria Park the older crowd can be seen sporting knee and ankle supports and kinesiology tape to help support their joints during their activities.
While sales of health and wellness-related products have been growing steadily over the past few years, the pandemic has raised everyone’s awareness of the benefits of getting out and moving. And as restrictions lighten up, people of all ages are increasing their activity, whether its for building their constitutions to protect against a future pandemic, or to lose the COVID-19 pounds.
Needless to say, this increased activity is generating more demand for wellness-related of products across all customer demographics. Neo G, which offers a dynamic range of medical grade orthopedic and sports supports for all ages and body types, has seen it firsthand. “We’re seeing more interest across the board,” says Paul Starkey, Founder and Managing Director of Neo G. “For the more sporty and active as well as professional sports people, we are the medical answer for their support needs. And for those who are a little older, this gives them the compression and confidence they need. They will feel more secure in their actions.”
I can certainly vouch for that, having tested out Neo G’s knee and elbow supports, as well as the wrist and thumb supports (which you see in the photo above) which helped when I tweaked my thumb in jujutsu class. Neo G doesn’t use any latex in their products, and its orthopedic design engineers understand anatomy and tailor the products so they meet the contours of the body part they are made for and don’t ride up – even when you are getting thrown around on the mat for two hours.
One trend that I’ve been reporting on in my buyer interviews over the past year is the fact that consumers are far more aware these days of what they are putting into and onto their bodies. Because of this, it’s crucial for brands to provide detailed information and use cases both on their websites and digital platforms as well as on their packaging and shelf messaging. This is an area in which Neo G has focused strongly.
“What we have found is that people are self-diagnosing as insurance costs are going up both in the UK and in America,” says Starkey. “So the explanation of what the product does is vital, because they are making their own decisions; a doctor is not telling them what to wear in every instance. And so the information on our boxes has been really key in this.”
With sales teams on the ground in both Europe and the U.S., Neo G regularly incorporates its learnings from the field and incorporates them into its product development. They also work closely with buyers to develop assortments that are tailored to the unique needs of their markets. “There are always the key elements of wrist, knee, ankle – the things that many people have issues with,” says Starkey. “But some retailers are near college towns, others in rural areas, and each can have quite an eclectic mix of products.”
To ensure that these retailers get the right products at the right time, Neo G controls all areas of distribution and transportation, with facilities in the U.K., the U.S., Istanbul and Dubai. “We break our backs to deliver,” says Starkey. “If I have to fill a 747, I’ll fill it and choke on the price to keep the customers happy and make sure they get what they want when they need it.”
ECRM & ECRM Europe successes
Neo G’s strong focus on product development, messaging, customer service and tight distribution has led to several successes with buyers from the half-dozen ECRM and ECRM Europe Programs in which it has participated. “We’ve had some great wins,” says Starkey. “We’ve done a fabulous job with Walgreens and Rite-Aid in the U.S., and we have some more really big ones coming on board, all growth that came from ECRM.”
From ECRM’s European sessions the company has landed the Netherlands-based Etos pharmacy chain and has two additional retailers launching shortly. Europe can be challenging, says Starkey, because each country has different rules and regulations for getting certifications of medical devices. But the benefit of ECRM’s European programs is that it brings the buyers from these countries to him in one place. “You have the opportunity to speak to exactly the right buyer that you need,” he says. “And with the virtual sessions, you are still getting face-to-face with them. You guys just have it down. It’s like an orchestra playing; everything goes by the book.
At this year’s Health Care Program, European Health Care Program, and at ECRM’s Global Market: Fall Experience, Neo G will be showcasing its newest lines of products: its footcare line, which includes orthopedic-quality insoles, as well as its line of diabetic leggings. The footcare products are already selling through at retail. “We couldn’t be happier, because we’re getting it right,” says Starkey. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but we are putting out very relevant products.”
(Watch the full video interview with Paul Starkey below).
Editor’s note: To register for the Global Market: Fall Experience, click here or contact Craig Chmielowicz. To register for September’s European Health Care Program, click here or contact John van der Valk.