Starting a supplement company can be a lot more challenging than many people realize – but doing the research and knowing a little more about the supplement business and startups can make the challenge that much easier to handle.
So what are the first steps?
Great ideas don’t automatically turn into viable businesses. A successful business calls for a varied skillset. Firstly there is the initial briefing of the manufacturer. A potential distributor of supplements needs to be very clear about expectations, including the product specifications. There are other strategic necessities that have to be part of any structured business plan. These include marketing, conforming to legal and regulatory requirements, financial planning, management of the sales funnel (including inventory management and customer service). All of these components have to work together in order to succeed in this highly competitive sector.
Getting each of these components to sync is another challenge that many business owners do not appreciate when they plan a startup in a particular field. But it is a challenge that can be overcome. STrategic thought is required – but with enough application and hard work making and selling supplements can be the key to wealth – and the best part of it is that the return on investment is potentially exceptional. A small investment can provide great monthly returns.
Let’s have a look at a step-by-step guide to the process of setting up a dietary supplement business.
- Know your audience. Demographic knowledge and a needs analysis are both essential parts of this first step.
- Decide how you are going to attract customers – your customer acquisition strategy is extremely important.
- Undertake a competitor analysis – what are they doing right – and how will your business differentiate itself?
- Decide on the model for the production of the supplements.
- Identify your preferred manufacturer. Evaluate cost, reputation and delivery times (and quality of components).
- Create your label – branding is always important.
- Flesh out your marketing plan.
- Finalize the details as far as fulfillment is concerned.
- Launch your supplements into the market.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.
Step 1: Know your audience
This is one of those steps that seems to fly under the radar for many entrepreneurs. It is simply pivotal to success.
The supplement business is highly competitive, as an entrepreneur you need to know with ironclad certainty who it is that will be buying your products. You have to know in the minutest detail about that ideal customer. Vague analysis like ‘health-conscious males’ is simply not going to help. It is also a mistake to undertake customer analysis when the ball has already started rolling on production. You need to know your customer well in advance of this step.
So, when undertaking a customer analysis – what sort of questions should you be asking?
- Who exactly are they?
Look for a commonality. That could be the type of work they do, a health focus or challenge (insomnia, weight loss, vitamin deficiency, focus issues etc), or even a leisure activity. The point is that your customers need to have some sort of commonality.
- Do a needs analysis – find a pain point that your product can address.
Work backward from the idea that your chosen customer base will have unique needs and challenges that you can help overcome – for instance, are Vegams lacking protein in their diets – and are there certain minerals and vitamins that they are in search of when it comes to a supplement. A great example is glucosamine – Vegans need to be careful due to the fact that most supplements containing glucosamine are produced using crustacean shells – hard no for Vegans.
- Where are they currently sourcing their products?
It’s almost inevitable that they will be sourcing from the Internet, health food stores, main street retailers, pharmacies, catalogs and events. An entrepreneur needs to know how he or she can leverage these channels.
- How are they learning about existing or new products?
Knowing this is key to the formulation of a strategically sound marketing plan. Including online and above-the-line advertising, or the use of owned channels such as social media. There are a vast number of channels available. The aforementioned social media, print advertising, blogging, advertising on mobile devices or even op-ed pierces for professional or trade publications.
- Can you provide a solution to the needs of the client?
Don’t hit your head repeatedly against a brick wall. There are certain challenges that simply cannot currently be overcome within financial constraints or within the limitations of reasonable business practice. Stay away from these categories of products.
Now, how do you get the information you need? If you know people who are in business, mine them for their insight. Never ignore the value of a consumer survey. There are some great online tools available to help you conduct and understand the results of a consumer survey – one example is Survata. Put in the time to do your research. Mistakes made at this stage can cost you dearly later on. Spend a little – and gain a king’s ransom in actionable knowledge.
The second step is to decide on the appropriate customer acquisition model. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the best way to acquire customers. But make every effort to find a marketing model and a channel (or channels) that best suit your company’s unique needs.
Here are some of the more common choices.
Above the line media buying
A ‘main street’ (or as it is today commonly known, a ‘bricks and mortar’) retail outlet
Become an Amazon affiliate – this is extremely popular, due to low setup costs and ready access to a huge potential customer base (download our free guide here)
Trade and industry shows
Establishing a website (eCommerce is growing at an unprecedented rate)
When choosing which method would suit your unique needs, take a step back (and do your research). This is a time when calm heads prevail. Do a needs analysis – and also factor in available financial resources, cost and benefits (including margins and profitability). When you start out, spread your net wide. Use a variety of marketing tools – and see which one returns the best results. Fortunately, many channels offer free analytical tools to help you make your final decision. But also trust your gut – if it feels right, there’s every possibility that it is.
Always remember – be patient. Let campaigns run for a while, tweak them and run again. Always be realistic in your expectations. Rome was not built in a day.
The third step is undertaking a comprehensive competitor analysis.
This is essential. You need to identify a USP – a unique selling proposition. Your products need to stand out from the crowd. Good is simply not good enough. Research the competition. Find out what they are doing well and any mistakes they have made in the past.
An Excel spreadsheet listing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is a great idea. A competitor SWOT analysis can also help.
Populate that spreadsheet and look for ay that you can differentiate your product offering from that of the competition. There are a few ways to do this.
Price: This can be trickier than you think. But if you can get it right it gives you an enormous competitive advantage. Large orders will often come the way of the company that offers the best price. However, you’re going to need those large volumes if you are cutting prices down to the bone – your margins are going to be paper-thin.
New segments: Sometimes there are potential customers out there who have simply not received an appropriate marketing message. Some examples include athletes, senior citizens, mothers-to-be, executives and those with special dietary needs.
Slim down or bulk up your offering. Companies often manufacture supplements with unnecessary or even undesirable ingredients. Perhaps it’s required due to regulation in the country of origin? Leaving out superfluous ingredients can lead to enormous cost savings. Alternatively, find an ingredient that has been omitted (the company may have a good reason for this omission – research the subject thoroughly). These two options present a perfect opportunity for product differentiation. Adding that extra component is especially useful – it demonstrates a commitment to quality and added value to the consumer.
Go it alone: Once you have an in-depth understanding of consumer demand and have gauged just how much the consumer is willing to pay for a particular product (customer and market analysis) and know what’s already out there (competitive analysis) then you can start making decisions about formulation.
Get in-depth knowledge of the right levels of each ingredient in the mix. Once you have the information on the raw materials that are required it’s time to source a supplier. Do your due diligence when it comes to selecting your supplier – including research on their reputation. Choosing the right supplier is vital in order to ensure that your product delivers on its consumer promise.
Then prepare your final price quote.
Submit your order.
Take delivery of the raw materials.
Quarantine and test the materials you have received.
Manufacture your first R&D batch using the production equipment you have chosen.
Do an extended batch run for further testing.
Once satisfied – issue a certificate of analysis.
Visit our blog to find out more information on each of these points.
So – what sort of investment are you looking at?
Manufacturing costs are a large part of the cost of producing supplements. There are several factors that impact those costs, including:
- Dose forms. Different forms of product delivery (does forms) have different attributes and different cost implications for production. For instance, tablets are cheaper to produce than capsules.
- Raw materials. Seasonality, region of origin and other factors can influence the costs of raw materials.
- Packaging. Supplements can be delicate. They can degrade when exposed to sunlight, open air and are in many instances extremely temperature-sensitive. Robust and appropriate packaging is essential – and the type of packaging that is required can be a substantial input cost. Storage can also add to costs.
- Testing and certification. The best supplements on the market rely on testing by third parties. The certification provided by these impartial third parties tends to be trusted by the consumer. There are also specific requirements for products that are certified as Kosher, Halaal and vegan (among others). These requirements also have a material impact on costs.
- Legal issues.
In the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that supplements meet stringent standards as regards ingredients, storage and even marketing claims. These requirements are governed by the ‘Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994’ (DSHEA). The requirements differ from pharmaceutical products and foodstuffs. However, companies that manufacture supplements are held to high standards – and have a legal obligation to meet the requirements set in place by the (DSHEA) and the FDA.
Supplement companies are required to submit a ‘new ingredient notification’ to the FDA for all supplements that have reached the market after 1994. Suppliers/manufacturers also need to be certified for GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). Ensure that your suppliers meet this criterion.
It is an extremely good idea to consult with a qualified attorney prior to starting up a supplement business (it’s simply prudent business practice).
Then there is the question of licensing. Will you need a Dietary Supplement Manufacturing License in order to bring your products to market? Supplements have been growing in popularity in the U.S. in recent years and the regulatory authorities have now become much stricter on those launching products into the market. There is now a raft of regulations that are aimed at ensuring the safety and quality of supplements. As a distributor and brand owner you are going to need specific licenses (see the point above as regards legal advice). Failure to obtain those licenses can lead to hefty fines – or worse.
If you are committed to creating your own bespoke nutritional formulas – and take on the manufacturing of supplements, you will need to obtain certifications, make allowance for comprehensive insurance – and (once again) consult your business advisor/attorney prior to launching your products.
There is an alternative. You can source your products from an established manufacturer. They will already have all the required certifications (make sure of this). These supplements can then be marketed under your own brand. This can cut down on paperwork and the costs of external advisors – and save your money, allowing you more operating capital to engage in marketing and other essential operating functions.
There are some other points well worth keeping in mind.
Have a good idea of the key product features you want – and then work your way backward.
It’s simply good business practice to do that essential competitor analysis. Borrow ideas and best practices from the competition – but don’t sacrifice your own vision in the process.
Once you have identified your key target audience take a long look at how your competition is servicing that market. Find that USP – that unique alternative to that they are offering (beyond a unique formulation).
If you have an outline or some general thoughts on the sort of product that you want to launch but are unsure of ingredients or ingredient proportions approach the product development department of a reputable supplement manufacturer – they will have valuable insight that can help crystalize your thinking.
One of the most important factors that will make or break a supplement business is the identification of the right manufacturer. Develop a business plan and take into account the tips below. Those two approaches will go a long way towards helping you make the right choice.
Six tips that can help you select the right manufacturer.
Step #6 – Come Up With The Ideal Supplement Label
Your supplement labels need to be prominent and should be one of your brand’s strong selling points. This is a tip based on verified customer studies that reveal between 40% and 70% of the decisions to purchase a product are made at the point of sale. Like most commercial goods, developing a competitive edge in the nutraceutical market require having superior and eye-striking dietary supplement labels.
The following are the main points to remember when coming up with ideas for the ideal supplement labels and packaging:
1. Your supplement labels must comply with the FDA and follow FDA guidelines for nutrition labels. The label should clearly show a list of all the active and inactive ingredients in your product, and conform to all the legal provisions for the relevant health claims.
2. Use your logo and label to sell your brand while focusing to market your products’ strong and unique qualities compared to those of your competition. To outdo the market, you have to be creative when designing your logo; consider using distinct names, shapes, and characters to come up with a simple but amazing and effective design. You can cleverly borrow ideas from platforms like Ghost Lifestyle, Twinlab, and Vital Proteins, among others.
3. Use color to your advantage because it influences a lot! According to current marketing studies, 62% to 90% of potential buyers rely on the product’s initial impression when buying the product. Certainly, a product’s packaging color or label speaks volumes and determines how customers view your product. For example, blue indicates universally-accepted products or calming personalities, purple signifies quality and royalty.
4. Spare enough time for designing, confirming, and printing out Grade A dietary supplement packaging and label designs. An error during this stage will greatly hamper your product marketing strategy and finances.
5. When developing your supplement label template, go for a design company that has extensive experience and knowledge in the supplements industry.
6. Confirm with your contract manufacturer and legal team if you are allowed to claim your supplement products are “Made in America” on their packaging.
Before you start producing your supplement label, please consider the following 2020 amendments as instituted by the FDA.
You no longer have to declare “calories from fat.”
“Total Sugars” in your product must be openly disclosed on the label. Also, you have to declare the amount of “Added Sugars” in grams and a percent Daily Value (DV) for added sugars in your product. Also kindly note: Maltodextrin is now considered a type of sugar.
The composition of dietary fiber should be a mark below “Total Carbohydrates”. Please note the acceptable sources of dietary fibers strictly include beta-glucan, cellulose, psyllium husk, guar gum, pectin, locust bean gum, or HPMC. Prebiotics are currently not considered a source of dietary fiber.
The current laws require updated Daily Values (DVs) and provide different measurement units for certain nutrients. For instance, Vitamin A is measured in mcg RAE, vitamin D is measured in mcg while vitamin E is measured in mg. Choline currently has a DV. Before, the unit of measurements for these nutrients was IUs.
The itemized line for the number of calories in your product’s Nutrition Facts box must be clearly shown in two font sizes larger than the rest of the line items. However, the same requirement need not apply to the calories in your supplement’s Facts Box.
You no longer need a footnote in the nutrition facts box.
Useful Tip: We asked Christopher Bennett, our Art Director with 12 years of experience in the nutraceutical industry for his best professional advice. According to Bennett, brand owners of new supplements must be creative when designing their supplement labels. He advises against copying what other brands are doing, but encourages taking calculated risks when designing with your product’s label.
As per Bennett, the goal is to come up with packaging and labeling that allows your product to stand out and easily get noticeable from the store shelves or from other Amazon products.
Step #7 – Come Up With A Good Name For Your Dietary Supplement Brand
Conduct adequate due diligence before choosing the right name of your product or supplement’s brand. The name of your brand or product will be your clients’ first calling card and must be chosen judiciously.
Kindly keep in mind the following ideas when coming up with an effective name for your supplement brand:
Please ensure the name of your supplement business is short, sweet, and relevant to your business.
Remember that a definite color palette can greatly help your business in the long term because your clients easily remember your products than those of your competitors.
Use a unique and consistent marketing voice that is relevant to your target consumers and the larger audience to increase the value and impact of your brand.
What To Avoid When Choosing Supplement Names
Take the following precautions deciding the name of your supplement company.
- No matter how unique the names may seem, run the potential names through a search engine to ensure no existing business has the same or a similar name.
- Also, ensure your selected name for your supplement business is not similar to that of your competition. It is always best to have a unique name that matches your brand and the mission of your business.
- Ensure there is no hidden or negative meaning to the name you choose for your brand.
Step #8 – Develop Efficient Marketing Strategies – It Helps When Your Target Customers Know Your Supplement Products
There is great competition in the nutraceutical industry where high-quality supplement products are bought and sold much faster because of superior packaging and clever marketing plans.
How Do You Market Supplement Products?
Focus on the customer’s needs.
The marketing plan for your nutritional supplements should be focused on how your health products can address customer needs. The best way to gather this information is by encouraging the collection and evaluation of customer feedback while remaining open to both positive and critical feedback. At the end of the day, customer loyalty is the most important and rewarding business objective.
Rely On Attractive And Legally-Compliant Labeling and Packaging
Studies have shown that product labeling and packaging determine up to 72% of buying decisions. To capture the customer’s attention, develop a prominent color theme, graphics, fonts, and FDA labeling and packaging that is easy to use.
Use Online Platforms To Market Your Dietary Supplements
These modern terms have seen the Internet emerge as a robust online marketing resource. Consider using websites, e-mail addresses, paid and affiliate marketing, and Amazon paid promotions to promote the sale of your products online.
Learn To Use The Right Fans, Stars, And Influencers To Promote Your Products
In most cases, close to 80% of your business profits are generated by about 20% of your loyal customers who return to buy your product regularly. To solidify your brand among your loyal customers, directly interact with the clients and make them feel special.
To achieve this goal, settle on the best product influencer like a social media celebrity or athlete to market your supplements. The right influencer, unlike an established one, has a dedicating following or audience who will buy your products. Consider this marketing option provided it is beneficial to your brand and is within your budget.
Versatile Advertising Can Make All The Difference!
Appreciate the many innovative and effective methods available for marketing and advertising your product. Prudently develop a budget to advertise your products through video marketing, radio, and magazine advertising.
Other methods for grassroots advertising may include dropping your flyers in the waiting area or receptions of spas, gyms, salons, and clinics. You have to target the right kind of places where your target customers are likely to visit often.
Use The Power Of Social Media Marketing
About 80% of Americans are reported to own at least one social media account. Therefore, social media platforms provide great access to a multitude of consumers. This is precisely why online marketing is an important factor when coming up with well-rounded marketing and advertising plan for your dietary supplements.
You can use clever hashtags to improve your supplements brand recognition and reach of customers
Witness a rise in your business conversion rates
Cut down on unnecessary adverting costs
Find Cross-Promotional Opportunities
Consider target marketing your product to various customer segments for a single product line. For instance, it is estimated 2.5% of the U.S. population is vegan, nonetheless, you can push market your vegan products to flexitarians, vegetarian and traditional customers.
Do Not Forget Offline Marketing Which is Vital
There is vast potential to market your dietary supplements using offline marketing strategies like print and broadcast media. Also, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines are all good platforms with relevant marketing and educational content on dietary supplement products and helps a vast number of consumers.
It is hard replacing brick-and-mortar shopping which accounts for a significant chunk of supplements sales, however, advertising, promotion and word of mouth can help to grow demand for your supplements products.
Step #9 – The Fulfillment Plan: Determine How Your Products Will Reach Your Customers
For your business to grow, you have to know how to reach your target consumers at the right time, more so, when you are facing competition from companies like Amazon-Prime who deliver customer products within 2 business days. At this point, efficient order fulfillment is integral and plays an important role in your business.
One way is to get into partnership with reliable order fulfillment providers to handle warehousing and drop shipping of your supplement products to different customers. In this case, ensure the storage facility you use has climate control capabilities and is inspected by cGMP and the Department of Agriculture Food Approved Facility. Additionally, confirm the minimum order limit and how easy it is to manage inventory from the storage facility.
Also note that some supplements manufacturers can provide storage, kitting, assembly, shipping, and distribution of your dietary supplements products. Before you make this decision, consider the manufacturer’s requirements like the presence of cGMP storage; these requirements vary from one manufacturer to another.
Step#10 – Start Selling!
You have to begin selling your product to recover what you have invested in terms of time, money, and energy in your supplements business.
Please keep the following matters in your mind:
Determine The Ideal Pricing For Your Business
Determining the correct pricing for your product is key. This is because asking for too much will deny you a significant number of customers who are genuinely interested in your products but cannot afford to buy them. At the same time, too low a price will severely dent your profits and affect your ability to remain in business for long.
Tips For How to Sell Nutritional Supplements
Consider working with gym and fitness centers, weight-loss clinics, and physicians to widen your customer base. Often, these professionals interact with clients who are likely to be consumers of dietary supplement products.
Sell your product online. Selling your supplements products online platforms like Amazon is an easy way of reaching a large audience and potential buyers of your product.
To begin with, consider giving free product samples to the different sites and stores you want to partner and work with. Allowing them to retain 100% of the profits for the initial batch is a good way to convince them to keep your products on their shelves, or feature them on websites. At the same time, you will benefit by reaching a whole new audience who are likely to be return customers.
The return customer is important to your business in two main ways. For a start, a return sale reinforces your brand in the market and makes it necessary for the sites and retail shops to keep stock of your supplements because customers want them.
Tips For How To Sell Your Own Supplements Online
There are different strategies to employ when selling your supplements online. They include:
Have An Online Store – If you want to sell your products on your website, then you can work with online store builders like Shopify, WordPress, and BigCommerce to help you grow traffic to your website.
Using Secondary Websites – You may use auction sites to sell your dietary supplements products.
Using Social Media – Some of the platforms you can use are Facebook, eBay, Pinterest, Instagram. It begins by establishing the right platform based on your customers’ profile and then generating and sharing marketing content while respecting the community’s culture and life expectations.
Using Affiliates and Aggregators – To expand your products’ reach and penetration in the market, consider selling your supplements on Amazon or similar platforms. All you need to do is set up an account, master the terms and conditions and the basics of order fulfillment, and then set off.
Some Of The Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Supplement Company
It is common to find resources for what you need to do when setting up a supplements company, however, not many write and teach about the probable pitfalls supplement brand owners need to avoid. They include:
Know Your Target Customers – Before you set up the company, you must know the profile of your target audience or the customers interested in buying your supplements. For instance, are you targeting seniors, millennials, or adults? Where are they likely to be found? Etc.
Ignorance On FDA Policies – To maintain and ensure consumer safety all through, FDA policies around the nutraceutical industry are constantly changing. The FDA regulates all processes including manufacturing and labeling of supplement products. That means, you need the relevant legal help or to rely on the knowledge of your contract manufacturer.
Prioritizing Product Price Over Product Quality – You cannot rely on price alone when determining the contract manufacturer to work with. Ultimately, you have to remember that you are making products that are going to be consumed by human beings.
Being Too Unique Is The Only Objective – Establish any reason why a particular “thing” cannot be done or why it has not been done before. Think through your product and the feasibility of your business plan, you will find ways to be unique without going against the expected customs.
What You Do NOT Want In Your Supplements – To enhance your clarity for product definition, it helps to understand what you DO NOT want apart from knowing your desired product.
Some Of The Mistakes You Need To Avoid When Starting Your Own Dietary Supplement Company
Conduct sufficient research to know and identify your target audience.
Take caution when identifying your manufacturer; focus more on product quality and value rather than high pricing.
It is best if you use a list of questions to qualify and select the most suitable contract manufacturer. To come up with the right question, consider your business and product needs, keeping in mind the industrial standards and best practices.
Frequently Asked Questions When Setting Up A Supplement Company
Question: What is the cost of starting a supplement company?
Answer: It depends. The proprietor’s cost of establishing and operating a supplement company is based on factors like dose form, raw materials, and packaging, and the cost of the required tests and certifications. However, the main goal for setting up a supplements company should be providing value to consumers through high-quality supplements products.
Question: Where do supplement companies get the required ingredients?
Answer: The acquisition of the required raw materials depends on the type of supplements to be produced. However, you are likely to get probiotics from laboratories, adaptogens/herbs from local and international regions, and minerals from mineral salty or organic acids. SS Nutra purchases ingredients from all over the world. UK, South America, Japan, USA and China. We use FDA Registered and GMP manufacturers for all raw ingredients
Question: How can I promote the sale of my supplements?
Answer: The best place to start is to solely focus on customer satisfaction, and everything else will fall in place. It starts by understanding consumer needs and knowing why your product is/can be popular among consumers compared to other brands.
Come up with an effective product marketing plan that focuses on various factors of product promotion and advertisements. Additionally, continually learn verified sale strategies that have a record of observable results in the market for dietary supplements.
1: Ask questions.
Do not be afraid to pepper the manufacturer that you are evaluating with questions. This will ensure that you get all the information you require to make an educated decision.
Ask about how many years they have been in business, the certifications that they have, their client base, quality control and testing and, perhaps most importantly whether they are willing to supply contactable references. Ask about the quality and sources of their ingredients – and minimum order quantities as well as turnaround times. Are they suing an industry-specific graphic designer for their branding – that can also be extremely important.
Then it’s time to turn to the unrivaled power of the Internet. Do a background check. There are a myriad of websites that provide feedback from people who have experience of many different consumer products and sectors, including the supplement business (BBC and Ripoff Report are two excellent sources). Most people will not hesitate to be candid about their experiences. Check out the credentials of their senior management on the company website (social media is also an excellent source of information). Most companies today recognize that transparency is extremely important – a lack of in-depth information is a warning sign-if this is the case make sure to ask why the information is not available.
2: Does the manufacturer offer a turnkey service – and ask them to unwrap the services that they offer.
What is a turnkey manufacturer? Put simplistically it is a manufacturer that is a one-stop solution provider. A true turnkey operation will offer a suite of manufacturing and second-tier services such as packaging, testing, labeling and distribution. There are distinct advantages to dealing with an organization like this.firstly time-to-market is faster than would be the case when dealing with a variety of suppliers, the convenience of dealing with a single organization (and often a single point of contact) and significant cost savings.
3 Source from the local market.
Given the stringent rules and regulations governing the production and distribution of supplements it simply makes sense to deal with a company that knows the requirements – there are less likely to be unpleasant (and potentially costly) surprises during the course of the relationship.
4. Trust your gut (again).
The first impression that you get from that manufacturer is usually correct. But it is also things like how quickly they respond to inquiries and their openness and general demeanor that can give you a good idea of what they will be like to work with.
5 The ‘Pinch of Salt rule.
Awards and honors are all very well – but the repeated mention (social media, website, on the phone) of these should send up a warning flag. This type of recognition can wow people – but be wary. Many industry awards are the result of money spent – and can flatter to deceive. Those awards don’t necessarily indicate the quality of products, integrity or levels of customer service.
6 Ask for their insight into the regulatory environment.
This can be a complex area – and if the manufacturer seems at a loss to answer your question it may be time to reassess your planned business relationship. A lack of knowledge of this vital area is a sure indication that they might not be all they seem.