Sports Nutrition Summit 2020

Dr. Susan Kleiner on the female athlete: 'They should be shown grunting, sweating'

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sports Nutrition Summit, female athletes, Marketing

Sports nutrition marketing of the female athlete has come a long way as the industry embraces representing her as strong and powerful image rather than skinny and sexy, says Dr. Susan Kleiner, founder of High Performance Nutrition, and director of science & communications at Vitargo .

"I think we are certainly beginning to see the female athlete as the athlete rather than the giggly girl on the sidelines,"​ Dr. Kleiner told NutraIngredients-USA at the 2020 Sports Nutrition Summit​ held in San Diego earlier this month. 

When looking at pure figures of female athlete representation in the media, the numbers are sobering, noted Dr. Kleiner. While female athletes make up 43% of high school athletic teams, 54% of NCAA teams, 53% of the athletes on the Team USA Olympics team and 60% of runners in US road races. But just 3.2% of sporting events broadcast on television are female-centric.

"When an active or athletic woman is watching television and never sees herself, does she identify as someone who could use the products that you’re trying to make for her? Probably not," ​said Dr. Kleiner. Most of the time, they simply don't see themselves as part of the market, according to Dr. Kleiner. 

She stressed the opportunity is advertising and marketing, which can capture and empower the huge audience of female athlete. 

"Interestingly, the advertising within male-centric sporting events on television can still reach that woman watching the event. If she sees herself in the ad, that is nearly as equally as powerful as seeing herself in the event itself. Yet even in advertising, men far outnumber the women...​ even in an ad that’s supposed to be targeted to women: Out of a 20-second ad, two to four seconds will include women,"​ noted Dr. Kleiner. 

Marketing to today's female athlete: Dos and Don'ts 

"The point would be to give the woman her own voice, to show her as the powerful woman that she is. Female athletes can be dominant, female athletes sweat, female athletes grunt, they’re fierce on the field. To show that, it is very empowering because it allows the audience watching to identify with the person in the advertising and marketing,"​ said Dr. Kleiner. 

female_athlete

What would this look like in practice? According to Kleiner, the female athlete should be seen grunting, sweating, and showcasing their strength and skill.

"Highlight the athletic ability and not the sexuality, that needs to be a guiding light,"​ said Dr. Kleiner. This means featuring the most successful athlete in the sport, not necessarily the best-looking, added Dr. Kleiner.

"The women who follow the sport know when you have selected the ‘less-than’ athlete because she is the better-looking one, and it is a turn off. They want you to use the athletes that are the best."

Moving away from diet messaging

Despite having the same athletic ambitions as their male counter parts, female athletes often receive diet-related marketing messages in the media.

"For over 100 years the diet world has been speaking to women on an emotional level. It is still out there and it does still have an influence on women in the sporting world,"​ said Dr. Kleiner. 

"The problem in female-centric products has been that they have taken their direction from the diet world, the weight loss world... and all the marketing has followed that because there was a void in data around the female athlete. That’s not at all what today’s female athlete is looking for.They want to get stronger faster, more powerful just like any other athlete would."

What do female athletes want most from their sports nutrition products? 

"That they should work. That should deliver on their claims," ​said Dr. Kleiner. "It is up to us as an industry to do the educational marketing to help bring women along with us."​ 

Sports Nutrition Summit USA 2021

Join us next year to learn about the latest research from leading scientists, market analysts and come face-to-face with market leaders in San Diego. Delegates were able to benefit from various valuable networking opportunities, which allowed them to walk away not only with a whole wealth of knowledge, but armed with new connections to help build their business.

Don’t miss out in 2021. Click HERE​​ to be the first to hear event updates.

Related news

Related products

show more

A bioavailable and soluble anti-aging curcumin

A bioavailable and soluble anti-aging curcumin

Lipofoods, a Lubrizol Company | 02-Mar-2020 | Technical / White Paper

Curcushine™ microcapules is a bioavailable microencapsulated curcumin source with proven anti-aging benefits. Its innovative delivery system provides a...

Pycnogenol® Provides Benefits for Men Managing ED

Pycnogenol® Provides Benefits for Men Managing ED

Horphag Research | 17-Feb-2020 | Clinical Study

Newly published research shows daily supplementation with Pycnogenol® can strengthen erectile function and address common conditions related to type 2...

Related suppliers

comments

Post your comment

We will not publish your email address on the website

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars