From concept to reality
At NOW we get a lot of requests and suggestions for new products, from both consumer and retailers alike. If you’re someone who’s suggested a new product in the past, you may have wondered why it takes months or even years from the time you suggest a new product to the time you see it introduced.
Shouldn't it be a simple matter of just "putting it together" and then shipping it out to stores? After all, many of the products that are suggested to us are already offered by other brands, so why does it take so long?
Quality is the primary concern.
In a word, it’s all about quality. So let's talk about quality, and how this ties into new product introductions. First let's establish what quality is in regard to natural products. Quality means different things to different people.
To the consumer, a quality product is one that:
- looks and tastes good
- does what it is supposed to do
- makes someone feel good
- is in the right form
- is safe to use
To the retailer, a quality product is one that:
- is in demand by consumers
- is well packaged
- is available when needed
- is of the right size and shape
To the government, a quality product is one that:
- is safe for use or consumption
- meets labeling requirements
- has ingredients that match the label
Addressing all of these needs is key to the introduction of a quality product. So you can quickly see there’s a lot more to introducing a new product than just putting some ingredients together and shipping it out to stores.
Three ways we build quality into new products
NOW has been manufacturing natural products since 1968, and as one of the industry’s most respected and enduring manufacturers we’ve learned a lot about quality over the years. Our product quality efforts are supported by our three pillars – quality assurance, quality control, and continuous improvement.
Quality assurance (QA) is the technical term for the process of building quality into a product or service from the start. It’s a method that helps avoid mistakes by monitoring a product from inception to market introduction, assuring that the necessary steps and measures are taken to ensure consistent quality throughout the production process.
One of the primary tools in our quality assurance arsenal is product specifications. A product specification will list all the ingredients and their amounts. The product specification will define the most viable delivery form (tablet, capsule, etc.), which in turn will dictate packaging, bottle size, etc. The product specification will also contain any special requirements, such as organic ingredients or a specific form of a nutrient.
In addition to ensuring consistent quality throughout the manufacturing process, product specifications also serve as a kind of rule book for finding ingredient suppliers that can supply the right ingredients to meet a product’s specific requirements.
Quality control (QC) is the second pillar of our quality program, where we test our incoming ingredients, as well as our finished products, after they have been manufactured. This is to ensure that, after all the work we’ve done ahead of time, our new product still meets our requirements. If not, it's back to the drawing board - you won't see the new product until the critical requirements are met completely.
Quality control involves actual physical testing of ingredients and finished products. We test to ensure important aspects of quality including identity, purity, strength, and other natural product attributes. We also test to ensure the absence of numerous adulterants including pesticides, fungicides, pharmaceutical residues, various chemicals, and more. With more than 1,400 products in our inventory, NOW does a lot of testing, approximately 16,000 individual tests on a monthly basis.
The third pillar of NOW quality is continuous improvement. We’re always striving to do better, and to continuously improve our quality systems. We review the latest advances in science and technology to help us better guarantee the quality of our products. For example, new testing methods for natural ingredients are constantly in development at various labs throughout the world. We monitor various compendial organizations for formal announcements of new methods, and implement them as soon as possible once they’ve been accepted for use.
We’re also an industry leader when it comes to developing new analytical methods. NOW’s Methods Development group is credited with the development of a new analytical technique allowing to confirm the presence of glucosamine in many of our joint support supplements. This method was published under the title: Single Laboratory Validation of a Method for Determination of Glucosamine in Raw Materials and Dietary Supplements Containing Glucosamine Sulfate and/or Glucosamine Hydrochloride by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with FMOC-Su Derivatization.
As a part of the AOAC (Association of Analytical Communities) effort to develop Official MethodsSM for dietary supplements, funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an AOAC expert review panel on glucosamine reviewed many analytical methods from different sources for the rapid and accurate determination of glucosamine in various dietary supplement products. The panel concluded that the glucosamine high-performance liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method developed by our Methods Development team was the most appropriate to recommend for further laboratory validation.
Our method to identify Glucosamine in dietary supplements was published in 2004, and remains, to this day, the accepted method of reference for laboratories around the world to measure glucosamine in supplements.
We make substantial investments in quality
While other companies may invest more in sales and marketing, we prioritize investments in science, technology and staff that help us better ensure product quality. We have a number of PhDs that are involved in ensuring the quality of our products, and we have experienced formulators and quality professionals who truly enjoy bringing premium quality new products to market. At NOW, we take the time to evaluate things like our formulas, our product offerings, our vendors, and product packaging to ensure every aspect of a new product meets our quality criteria and your expectations.