If you're in need of some Vitamin D you can do two things: stand in the sunshine or visit Nature's Sunshine Products. The firm is one of the largest manufacturers and marketers of supplementary health care products in the US. It makes more than 700 products, including herbal supplements (available in capsule, tablet, and liquid form) and vitamins. Nature's Sunshine also sells essential oils and personal care items. The company has operations and distribution agreements in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. Its Synergy Worldwide multi-level marketing division sells the company's products in the US and selected Asian and European countries.
Nature's Sunshine Products sells its nutritional and personal care products in some 30 countries worldwide. North America is the company's largest market accounting for more than 50% of sales. Europe is its largest foreign market, representing more than 20%, followed by the Asia-Pacific region with about 15% of sales. South America makes up the rest.
The company operates through two business segments. Nature's Sunshine Products (75% of sales) makes and distributes nutritional and personal care products under the eponymous brand. Synergy Worldwide, which accounts for the balance, is the company's multi-level marketing arm. Synergy Worldwide distributes its herbal products, vitamins, minerals, supplements, and personal care products through different marketing and distributor compensation plans and offers products that are sufficiently different from those under the NSP brand. Its brands include Mistica, Liquid Chlorophyll, Noni Plus, and Core Greens.
Sales and Marketing
Nature's Sunshine Products spends almost nothing on advertising. Indeed, 2011 advertising costs totaled only $1,191. Instead, the direct marketing company relies on its independent distributors to market and sell its products.
The company's sales in 2011 were 5% higher than in 2010, buoyed by a 37% increase in sales for Synergy Worldwide. Synergy's sales were up in the US, Europe and Korea, offset by declines in Japan and Indonesia. The core Nature's Sunshine business saw its sales fall by more than 2% in the US and by 3% internationally. While NSP's herbal products posted about an 8% gain in sales, vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements posted a double-digit sales decline. Sales of personal care products were flat. Net income totaled more than $17 million in 2011, after an unprofitable year in 2010. Over the past several years sales growth has been erratic.
Herbal products are Nature's Sunshine's super-star sellers, accounting for about 40% the company's annual sales. Top sellers in the herbal department include CleanStart colon cleanser, Yin Pack (a Traditional Chinese Medicine product), Cascara Sagrada for intestinal health, and the Nervous System Pack to help with stress. Nature's Sunshine's second biggest earners are its vitamins and mineral supplements, followed by personal care products, and its nutritional drinks, homeopathic products, and powders.
Nature's Sunshine and its nutritional supplement brethren are seeing increased competition from pharmaceutical makers who are looking to grab some of the market share for vitamins and supplements away from traditional nutritional supplement manufacturers. Aside from being highly lucrative and in constant demand, the dietary supplement market is attractive to pharmaceutical companies because there is less federal oversight of nutritional supplements and herbal remedies than of pharmaceuticals. While pharmaceutical companies are required to go through a rigorous testing process in order to receive FDA approval before they can market a drug, dietary supplements aren't required to go through the same testing procedures (though they are subjected to some federal oversight), making them easier and less expensive to get to market.
Nature's Sunshine seeks to fight its competition by offering a diverse range of products (ranging from vitamins and minerals to cookware and air and water purifiers), as well as by maintaining a vast distribution network to market its products in existing markets and to help the company enter new ones.
Prescott Group Capital Management, LLC owns about 12% of the company. – less