Health and fitness are big businesses globally. We have already covered some great health and fitness business ideas and today we will put the spotlight on the health supplements business. The world has opened up more and more to the fact that our diets are not providing all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients we need. Add to that the fact that people who either have health or conditions or are seeking to push their bodies the extra mile will need the assistance of supplements to help their bodies get the inputs it needs to perform optimally. You’re right to think there’s a business opportunity there.

“Make” or buy?

One of the first things you will have to consider is whether you will “make” or buy the supplements you sell. Make in quotes because you are not expected to be a manufacturer but rather to engage a manufacturer to make on your behalf. In most cases where a question asks you to choose between things that are not mutually exclusive the correct answer is both. This is no exception to the rule, the answer here is both. However, it may be much wiser to start selling someone else’s brands. Regular readers will know that every few weeks I will remind them that a business is a customer. You can have a business without a logo, registration, website or products but not without a customer. Therefore the key skill of business is attracting customers. It would great sense to learn the market and consumer with a smaller investment in the business. Once you understand the market and their preferences you can consider using a manufacturer to make for you and open yourself up to better profit margins. Some offshore manufacturers custom-make health supplements.


You are dealing with products that people will ingest and there is always a risk. While the idea of operating carefree could work the reality is you need to consider insurance even if it is as simple as public liability cover. This is probably a good time that incorporating the business is essential as it will protect you if and when a case or claim is brought against the business. Some corners are not worth cutting, especially these two.


With the amount of business being done online in this area, it is difficult to suggest a brick and mortar store. However, we must be cognizant of the customer base we are serving and Zimbabwe still presents a good case for brick and mortar businesses. You do not need a sprawling store, a small kiosk or strip mall shop will do the trick but your location is very important. The website is non-negotiable. At worst have a website that displays products and product details. The goal however is to offer fully integrated eCommerce.


The situation with 3rd party logistics provision in Zimbabwe is nowhere near satisfactory but it is workable. For many in eCommerce and delivery investing in your own logistics is still worth the expenditure. Also, supplements orders are usually small in size and therefore fairly easy to deliver. What will complicate things for you is the range. You may have to consider local area in house delivery and a 3rd party to widen the delivery network.


This is what your business is going to be all about. Marketing and selling. So it will make sense to budget fully for massive expenditure in this part of the business. You have many options on how to reach your target market and the following are the most prominent and effective

Direct sales

This is the best way to go about it. Direct selling to customers is well worth it and proven to increase profit margins in the health supplements business by 2 to times compared to those who sell through distributors. It may be a bit taxing, particularly initiating the first contact with customers.

In-person marketing

This includes things like door to door selling, pop up shops and direct selling (popularised as “Avon”) parties. These activities take both time and resources but they remain a great way to familiarise people with your brand.

Pay-per-click advertising

You have to sell to people where they are and they are on the internet. Pay per click (PPC) advertising is great because it is targeted and charges you for clicks not views. Using the right strategies you can get quite a lot of business from this avenue.

Social media marketing

Speaking of where the people are you cannot hope to survive with a social media presence and social media marketing. This goes beyond selling your products on social media but rather being social on matters to do with health supplements.


Blogging is a great way of communicating about the properties of your products but also helping understand people that they need them in the first place. This is broadly content marketing that can be applied to audio and video as well.

Permits and licencing

There is a wide and wonderful of health supplements out there that people are interested in. As some of these cross over into the territory of medicine, you will definitely come across cases that require licenses or permits to import and sell. The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe is the place to enquire if your intended imports are controlled by law in Zimbabwe.

The paradox in the game of supplements is that widely used supplements tend to carry lower profit margins while the rarer supplements will have higher profit margins. The trouble here is that the higher volumes on the popular supplements may well make up for their low margins.