By Carl Hyland and Luke Huber, ND, MBA
As the Council for Responsible Nutrition marks its 50th anniversary in 2023, we’ve been reflecting on the value the association has brought to its members and the industry over decades of growth.
We know that in today’s marketplace, every investment needs a strong value proposition. That value requires an engaged membership, which CRN has been fortunate to attract. CRN members know well that a quality trade association strengthens their organizations and the dietary supplement industry in many ways. During periods of corporate belt-tightening, the uninformed may relegate association membership to a “nice-to-have,” overlooking the real positive impacts membership has on their company and the environment in which they do business.
Asking engaged CRN members what they get from membership, we learn that they benefit from CRN’s multi-faceted efforts to protect and advance the climate for them to responsibly develop, source, manufacture, and market science-backed dietary supplements, functional food, and their ingredients, for better health and nutrition.
CRN members receive actionable information that translates to market intelligence through our communications, which keep employees updated on the latest industry issues and trends and provide a platform for them to actively engage.
For example, Balchem’s Human Nutrition and Health Segment SVP and General Manager Jim Hyde, who served as chair of the association’s board of directors in 2017 and 2018, shared how he “came to the conclusion very quickly that CRN was the best trade organization for the industry.” He cited CRN staff expertise and access to Washington as drivers of value in addressing the gamut of questions that dietary supplement, ingredient and finish brand companies have. “It’s great to be able to call CRN at any time and get guidance,” he noted.
Nutriventia Director Rajat Shah shared her favorite aspects of membership, emphasizing the CRN community as a place where members can grow together and “learn from the best.” CRN provides the platform for “all of us to interact with each other and for all of those great ideas to cross-pollinate…” she observed.
Vitaquest President and CEO Patrick Brueggman shared how he led the company to join CRN after attending the association’s annual conference, getting a better understanding of what the team does for the industry and the connections that come with membership. “…our whole team is excited to get to know and work with other member companies of CRN,” he said.
Friesland Campina’s Sarah Garcia, North American manager for the Biotis brand, told us what she finds most valuable is participating in CRN committees and working groups and being able to learn from like-minded individuals. “These groups align well with our commitment to provide clinically substantiated ingredients along with good stewardship for accessible nutrition,” she explained. Her participation also has benefited her career path within the nutraceutical industry and the company, she further shared.
There are several key benefits of CRN membership, which include the following:
- Education: CRN convenes regular committee and working group meetings and educational events that update members on the status of regulation, legislation, market data, scientific findings, and innovation. Awareness of these industry developments is critical for dietary supplement and functional food industry teams to compete strategically in the marketplace.
- Reputation: Participating in a well-regarded trade association like CRN with other industry leaders enhances member companies’ reputations among those members as well with the broader sector. CRN members prefer to do business with other members that they know align on mission and vision and believe in protecting and promoting the industry by following self-regulatory practices.
- Influence: CRN provides opportunities to shape policy in several ways, including contributing to comments to regulators, influencing federal, state, and local legislation, as well as self-regulatory practices and guidelines within the industry. By participating in these CRN initiatives, member companies have a seat at the table to make their positions heard on important issues that impact not only their business, but the entire market segment.
- Leadership Development: Being an active CRN member gives visibility to you and your organization among other industry players, customers, and industry trade press. Companies with staff who participate in CRN-facilitated committees and working groups have opportunities to take on key leadership roles and gain experience with industry colleagues.
- Networking: CRN members have a unique opportunity to network with other industry leaders in an environment of trust. Members share corporate values and follow legal, ethical, and safety best practices that meet CRN standards. Productive strategic relationships that can significantly grow businesses often develop through CRN connections.
Just joining “on paper,” of course, is only part of the story. Simply paying association dues and having your company name on a roster does not yield the full value CRN membership can provide.
Avoiding these common pitfalls will maximize the impact of CRN membership:
- Lack of participation: Getting your teams engaged in the association’s activities is key to making the most of your company’s dues. While membership can lend credibility to your organization, having a wide range of staff involved will keep the right contacts updated on the latest industry activities that affect their work. In addition, active engagement helps develop those valuable relationships that can grow your business.
- Too few of staff involved: Some companies will assign only one or two representatives to interact with a trade organization. This practice significantly limits the value of CRN membership. CRN’s multiple committees and working groups offer value to many members of a company’s staff from different disciplines. These groups focus on regulatory, science, legal, government affairs, communications, and international issues. Additionally, there are task forces and working groups that focus on specific issues are important to the business. One person can’t staff all these opportunities. If all CRN interactions are concentrated on one or two executives, that denies others’ opportunities to learn from industry colleagues and take advantage of their own expertise.
For those companies who are not yet members of CRN, or who may have joined in the past but weren’t plugged into how to optimize the value of members, we advise that with robust engagement your teams will quickly see the benefits for both your company and your customers, and therefore your profit.
Building on our half-century of experience providing value to the member companies CRN serves, we invite your company to experience how impactful membership can be as we continue to protect and advance a climate for our members to responsibly create and market science-backed dietary supplements, functional food, and their ingredients, for better human health and nutrition.