Body building

Will GNC Survive As A Brick & Mortar Chain?

by Christian Duque

Let’s get straight to the point, instead of spending half an article rearranging the lounge chairs on the Titanic. When it comes to business, change is inevitable. You either evolve or you are left behind. Sometimes companies, especially big, changing times can withstand and continue to do business indefinitely as usual. This is one way to maintain the internal status quo while ignoring the larger status in the market. There are a number of reasons why this might be more appropriate than cutting out old methods rather than teaching an old dog new tricks.


When it comes to vitamin dealers, GNC is king, they are the largest, they are the deepest pockets, and at some point they were so big that they found their way into the American mainstream.

They have always been mainstream when it came to having shop fronts as standalone stores, squares, and busy malls, but at some point they had a deal that found them in thousands of Rite Aid drug stores. It’s like having your own mini GNC outlet in a separate store. These are big leagues !! The problem, however, is that GNC didn’t see the big picture. When the internet came on, online shopping was very limited. When megasites like and the like began to conquer a significant portion of the market, GNC counted its losses and continued.

When the mega online shops and mega distributors (e.g. Europe) started to have to change their own models due to the constantly changing market, GNC stayed on course (its course). As Walmart got more involved in the supplement game and carried many of the brands that were only available from GNC and its competitors (Vitamin World, Vitamin Shoppe), GNC was still doing things the way they always had. The fact is that nothing has changed at GNC. Their business model, their promotions and their way of doing business have largely remained the same since they started. Their size has made them defy reality, but now that they have a tough reputation for closing 1,200 of their 4,000 stores, speculation will be rampant. Will restructuring as a result of filing for bankruptcy protection be enough? Or is it just the beginning of the end?

Consistency is great, but not at the price of being out of date. The GNC store model is tired, it is old. For starters, the amount of inventory is too high, the layout indicates where almost every inch of the store is filled, and the general mood is a mess. There is no empty space, there is no imagination, everything is done to sell, promote supplements and to flood the senses with the various products, claims and hype. Every aisle and shelf looks the same, as the company ensures that every store is consistent. Almost the only thing that is unique in a GNC is the register area. The fact that everything is always the same also makes a lot of people. In addition, customers cannot request brands, but can only buy them from companies that GNC considers suitable. In contrast to advertising for companies, GNC places a multitude of requirements on companies who want to sell on their shelves. Most companies don’t even see the benefit of selling in brick-and-mortar stores, they hate the return policies that often make them lose money, but if that wasn’t enough, they have no interest in jumping through all the tires and getting through them whole bureaucracy if they can sell directly and make more money.

There used to be significant bragging rights when a company offered products for sale at GNC. Similarly, companies had a certain level of credibility when they posted ads in all major magazines. The times have changed. Nobody buys magazines these days and it seems that very few people like to shop in physical stores. Whether it’s GNC, one of their major competitors, or even small franchise supplement stores, you’ll find it hard to enter any of these locations in any state and find more than 2-3 people there on any given day Time. In fact, you are lucky enough to find someone other than yourself. This is because people today value convenience.

Which is easier? Take your time, get in your car, use fuel, drive and park, go to a store, and buy protein. Then go back to your car, drive, use fuel, and take more time to drive home – or – buy online?


You could do all of this – or – you could go to a website, place your order, pay for the nominal shipping (or no shipping if you order enough) and do it all from your phone. It’s a no-brainer. And the more people order online, the fewer people visit shops. Now look at it from the business side. They either have to buy or rent shops, they have to pay workers and they have to keep the shelves in stock. For example, if products are six months before the expiration date, the store will rate them up to 40% (at the beginning) and up to that date. This is a loss and there are many losses because many of the brands that appear are not really selling. Some do not sell because consumers can get them cheaper online, others do not sell because they are simply not in demand.

If you, as the owner (franchisee) or as the managing director, find that a whole shelf of products is not selling, you cannot simply sell what you have and order something else next month. That’s not how it works. If you are a GNC, you pay franchise fees and follow the business model. If you think that the fine print will not be enforced, you should reconsider. In addition to the losses on the sales side and the business costs, many new, potential franchisees choose to work with cheaper franchisors. Ultimately, the few new business owners in this market simply don’t see the attraction of being associated with GNC – it’s not worth their time or money. In addition, many would rather try it alone. In the end, opening a supplement store becomes just as daunting as opening a gym. Can you make money Can you make this an exception to the rule? Of course you can, but understand that the odds are stacked against you. And also understand there are much easier ways to make money !!

GNC could upshift it, but they don’t have it and they probably won’t. The truth is, gold card savings don’t let people rush to stores for the first week of the month. With Walmart, people can get better savings than with Walmart. You don’t have to buy a card, participate in a program, or limit your purchases to specific days or times per month. What is it 2010 We are in a whole new world. Nobody is enthusiastic about such things anymore.

These hard plastic covers too … loss prevention or not, they look so silly. Some stores don’t even have the boxes for LP, they just like to use them to keep the really powerful things out of reach. Come on guys, you are a GNC, you have nothing powerful. Nobody goes to GNC to buy gray area supps. If anything, they go there to buy protein and pre-workout powder. Maybe a million years ago when you had the Pinnacle Poppers or the original Jack3d 3d Pre Workout, but these days you only wear two good shoes, so don’t pretend you’re wearing something exotic. The prices too … even if you’re not wearing anything that’s really strong, you never seem to get the memo to lower your prices.

I recently went to a GNC in Kentucky, where you had the audacity to charge almost $ 150 for a bottle of pills (in the glass case under lock and key, of course). That’s ridiculous!! Who the hell is going to spend $ 150 on a surcharge today? I’m sorry, but it’s a gimmick that a lot of people reject.

If GNC changes its model, becomes more fashionable over time, lowers the insanely high bar for companies to want to work with, and maybe checks their prices, then something might be done. That being said, the same thing that made her get this far without changing her size can also be what prevents her from changing today.

GNC is not just a company, but an empire. Even after the closure of 1,200 branches, you still have well over 3,000 locations. It’s one thing to keep everything normal, but to make any kind of real change across the board that could be a lot more ambitious than you think. Still, I think GNC could experience a renaissance if the company diversified its reach, invested more in online sales, possibly rationalized its stationary model and revised its corporate culture. The brand name is worth liquid gold and an essential part of our culture. The question is, what will it do now if it has bought some time?

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