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GNC CEO Michael Costello on GLP-1s and what makes the retailer's shelf

May 24, 2024
Photo illustration of Michael Costello surrounded by the GNC logo and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of GNC

Supplements giant GNC hopes to bring more shoppers into its stores with a new GLP-1 support program, CEO Michael Costello tells Axios.

Why it matters: About two-thirds of consumers that were using costly GLP-1 drugs discontinued their use after one year, with many people citing side effects as a primary reason, Costello says.

Zoom in: GNC is dedicating a section of its U.S. stores to address the side effects of weight-loss drugs, offering products like vitamins, protein shakes and supplements.

  • The company says it uses credentialed nutritionists and Ph.D.s to offer advice on what's the best way to manage these issues.
  • It is also training its in-store employees to advise on GLP-1s' common side effects.

Between the lines: GNC sees its staff "coaches" as the main draw to its stores.

  • Store associates undergo months of training so they can guide consumers and answer questions.
  • "You go on Amazon, you look for products, you get lost in the shuffle. Whereas, we're trying to make it very clear there's curated products for you," at stores, Costello says.

The big picture: Any new products GNC stocks must have science backing them and must "line up with what we see as the same core issues that we're dealing with," such as weight loss, muscle loss, and improving gut health, Costello says.

  • "We'd love to support brands that have that consumer connection or a proven product-market fit, and now they're ready for the next stage," Costello says.

What's next: The company has invested more in men's health, Costello says.

  • It also plans to carry many more up-and-coming D2C brands with more flavors.
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