Have you ever bought a supplement? Did it perform as expected or were you left wondering if it did anything at all? And where did you hear about the its magical properties? Was it perhaps an article you read on a hobby health care site? Or perhaps you got excited because TV’s Doctor Oz enthusiastically endorsed it?

800% Margins

The fact is there is a lot of money in supplements. Tim Ferris who got his start in life in the supplements industry gives some insight to the profit margins of 800% or more supplement sellers earn in his excellent book, “The Four Hour Work Week.” Wherever there is money there is a big incentive to sell, and the supplements business is all about the sale.

Opaque Marketing

If a dieter looks at the label of a bottle of a bottle of garcinia cambogia pills, she will not find any mention of weight loss. But if she searches Google for it she will find it’s a miracle just waiting to be discovered. What’s the reason for that? In most countries the law prohibits false claims, especially on product labels.

Instead of making patently false claims, websites and TV shows which sell these products will go through great contortions to explain why they think the product should help you. They may take published studies and selectively report the results, or they might pick up on a biased study that was paid for by someone from the industry. In order to gain your confidence they will use tricks like referring to Chinese medicine or placing a picture of a doctor with the marketing material.

Downright Dishonest Marketing

This snapshot from Amazon shows the result of 535 customer reviews. 92% loved it. Maybe you’d like to buy some too?


Not so fast – It’s easy to manipulate Amazon because you don’t have to be a verified buyer to place a review. Were those 92% of 5 star reviews real? Where are the people giving 2 star, 3 star and 4 star reviews? In fact this kind of review profile is quite common for “snake oil” products.

Fake Products

Human Growth Hormone is touted by some doctors as a miracle product. Whether it is or not, its supply is restricted by prescription. In their thirst to get their hands on a restricted product consumers will turn to the internet. Companies on the internet dodge regulators by boldly proclaiming they sell HGH, but overlook to let you know it’s homeopathic. This means the product contains a minuscule amount of HGH, and is really just a $100 bottle of water.

Whilst most supplement sellers will not sell you a fake product, they can be very creative in defining exactly what they are selling.


If it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and the more desperate people are for a miracle the bigger the lies will be.

Michael Donelly

About Michael Donelly

Michael Donelly is Gnet's founder and occasionally posts information. If you'd like to get in touch about anything business related you can contact him on Twitter: @MichaelDonelly2. And if you like what you read here then why not sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates on your interests?

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