Iran has a young and image-conscious population with many consumers (especially young men) looking for ways to improve their appearance. The popularity of regularly working out in the gym increased rapidly in 2015 and a growing number of sports nutrition brands are targeting their products towards consumers within body building clubs and gyms.
European countries and the USA are the main exporters of sports supplements to Iran. Optimum Sport Nutrition from the US is the most popular sport supplements in Iran. They almost have their full range of products in the market such as Amino Energy, Serious Mass, Creatine, Opti-Man (Multi Vitamin Plus Amino Acid and high dosages of Vitamin B and D), Glutamine, CLA, BCAA, Superior Amino, Gold Standard Whey 100% (in Bags of 5 lbs and 10lbs) and Hyrowhey (3.5lbs).
MaxMuscle from California, Body Attack from Germany and American Bodybuilding from the US are the other market leaders. The retail price of Sport nutritions in Iran is almost 1.5 times more expensive, compared to its price in North America (mostly due to export and distribution costs), which provides a healthy profit margin for exporters.
There is a high demand for sport supplements and certainly a shortage of brands in Iran. This creates opportunities for sport supplement brands to enter the market but there are challenges.
There is a lot of misconception on sports nutrition supplements in Iran and the Middle East in general, given this category of products is relatively new to their market. Some sports nutrition and bodybuilding supplements such as amino acids and protein powders (etc) have labels showing muscular bodies. To many Iranians, those pictures tend to imply that the product itself is unnatural consequently containing steroids or chemical substances that may negatively affect health. Therefore, using organic and natural looking labels is highly recommended for companies that are interested in that market.
It is also important for any sports nutrition brand to build trust with consumers in Iran. This includes educating, training and investing in the infrastructure to support the products in the marketplace. In other words, simply putting the products on the shelf isn’t enough to nurture such trust.
Another way to support the supplement and presenting them as high quality and trustworthy is to look for third-party organizations’ trust marks on the label such as NSF.
It should also be noted that in Iran, such supplements can only be sold through pharmacies – and there are no large pharmacy chains in Iran. The vast majority of the thousands of pharmacies are independently owned. This means working through a local importer/distributor, who are eager for special formulations. Last month I toured through many of these pharmacies in Iran (my home country), and there is a noticeable demand for sports supplements.
NHP Consulting is currently accepting new clients with unique formulations/brands to develop the Iranian market for them. Our approach is to locate and qualify best-fit partners in Iran, prepare our client for export, and manage their international sales in this country. Contact us for more information.