GNC and Vitamin Shoppe: Controversy of Bodybuilding drugs

As we all know, GNC (General Nutrition Center) and Vitamin Shoppe are two of the largest over the counter supplemental manufacturers and carriers; but some of us may not know that they are being targeted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) since they began carrying something called DMAA (DMAA is found in Geranium oil, which is found in flowers). (Lahart) The bodybuilding world is always looking for new and improved products to create high adrenaline, intensity, and energy. Most people that come to GNC are searching for something to either get them bigger with muscle mass or smaller to look more chiseled and defined. The DMAA ingredient can do both of those, its that type of uniqueness that will separate it from other drugs by spiking up the energy and adrenaline through the roof whilst narrowing your blood vessels and increasing the blood flow to the muscles. And it has helped GNC and Vitamin Shoppes stocks skyrocket.

The issue comes in the fact of natural occurrence. GNC and Vitamin Shoppe are claiming that DMAA  (1,3-Dimethylamylamine- also meaning Geranamine) is a naturally occurring substance that is found in a Geranium oil in a flower base. (Lahart) The FDA is cracking down on GNC and Vitamin Shoppe for carrying the suppliers (such as USPlabs, Muscletech, Cellucor, and etc.) that have no evidence that it is a safe product and that it is actually found in flowers. (Lahart) USPlabs went out of there way to create a website saying that DMAA is safe and naturally made (the website can be found at I know that it might not sound like a big deal, but you need to understand that if a dietary supplemental is not found to be created naturally, the FDA can say that it needs their approval since it is a ‘pre-market product’ and not a dietary ingredient. Once that takes place they can take over that product and recall it from all shelves in the nation since it is a ‘pre-market product.’

The FDA did research in four different labs (3- domestic and 1-international) and found no traces of DMAA in multiple samples of Geranium oil. (Lahart) A lot of the suppliers that GNC and Vitamin Shoppe are carrying have rebelled against the FDA by providing their own research taken from their labs.  But for now, the FDA is just frowning on the product (which I have to say to most of my customers at GNC if there hesitant on getting one of the awesome products that carry DMAA).  Unfortunately, I feel that most products that still carry DMAA at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe (Especially at my GNC store) are in the decline period of of the product life cycle. I don’t believe that it’s in its decline because it can’t offer the organization anything anymore, but the FDA is pressing down so hard on any DMAA products that it’s getting harder to carry them with all the rules and regulations.(Operation’s Management textbook, CH. 5 Figure 2.5) (PPT Ch.5 Slide 11)

Do you think the FDA is doing right by pressing down on an active ingredient just because they suppliers cant claim that it is naturally made? Would you take a product that wasn’t naturally made? Even if it is not naturally made, do you think it should still be on the market and not taken off like ephedrine and steroids were? Do you agree with the fact that it should be kept on the market and that it should be left up to the people to take it or not? Is GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and the FDA being ethical and moral about this issue?

What kind of tablet would you like for Christmas? Maybe a Nook?


As more and more people have begun to steer away from physical books to e-books, e-readers and tablets have begun to establish themselves as the next big product. Barnes & Noble entered into the Tablet industry with its first tablet, the Nook Tablet, last November in order to compete with Apple’s iPad and as well as Amazon’s Kindle Fire. With this introduction of the Nook HD, Barnes & Nobles has begun the phasing out of its previous tablets, the Nook Tablet and Nook Color. This new design, which introduces an upgrade in hardware and software, comes in two different sizes, one with a 7-inch screen and the other with a 9-inch screen. This has come on the brink of Amazon’s announcement for four new varieties of its Kindle which also offers larger screens to compete with the iPad’s 9.7 inch screen.

In order to compete with the offerings of its main competitor, Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble has also introduced a new video service in conjunction with major television and movie studios like Warner Brothers and HBO to allow its users to watch and buy movies and televisions shows on their mobile devices and TVs. Amazon currently offers more services which include a larger app store and video library as well as also providing its customers with its huge product offerings. However, due to the constant threat of Amazon’s online retail operations, retailers like Wal-Mart and Target refuse to carry the Kindle which allows for more opportunity for the Nook to be reached by possible consumers without the extra competition of the Kindle.

The tablet category has seen rapid expansion with many competitors entering the industry. According to Forrester Research, approximately one-third of U.S. adults will own some form of a tablet by 2016. That doesn’t even account for the amount of families that own multiple tablets for their children to use. So for Christmas, which kind of tablet would you like? Is it possible that the cheaper prices of the Nook and the Kindle can sway even more consumers towards it rather than going for an iPad?


Move over Nike… FILA’s making a comeback

Paris Hilton for FILA

When considering our class discussion of product placement and the product life cycle, I wondered how that would apply to a company that was already established and looking to ‘revamp’ their image.  A newer company has the advantage of a clean slate and a fresh approach to whatever service or good they are looking to provide; yet a company that already has a reputation that they want to break free from must have a well thought out strategy to help them accomplish this.

I came across this article in the Economic Times that was a live example of what I was curious about.  How FILA’s Gene Yoon plans to build a strong brand presence in India The article’s focus was Gene S. Yoon, Fila’s global chairman, and his strategy to break away from FILA’s image as a non-aggressive brand and become successful in India’s marketplace.  This article was an interesting supplement to several of our class topics, but especially on product life cycles and product decision.

The Indian marketplace has become the focus of FILA’s strategic efforts at competitive advantage.  Bata was the original company that dominated the marketplace; however Nike and Adidas have found success in this marketplace and FILA is hoping they will as well.  While Nike is known for “Just Do It” and Adidas says “Impossible Is Nothing”, Fila’s first priority is to decide on a tagline that will effectively differentiate them from their competitors.

Fila’s main strategy for competitive advantage appears to be rapid response.  FILA is one of the only brands that allows each retailer to devise regional marketing plans.  Aside from the logo, FILA gives retailers creative freedom in regards to color, fabric choice and design allows them to tailor each product to local preferences.  This strategy will assist in the growth of the brand throughout numerous markets.  FILA is also focusing on differentiation and their general ‘cool factor’ by signing on celebrities, such as Paris Hilton, which aided in their success in outgrowing other markets in Korea.

FILA is currently present in 40 exclusive stores in India, and Yoon forecast’s the number to increase to 100 stores by 2014.  I believe in Fila’s strategy to succeed in the Indian marketplace, however I do think they need to have a more focused strategy.  I understand the idea behind regional marketing plans, I just think that they would be more successful if they have a definitive tagline and ensure that each product that is developed embodies what they are trying to represent.  FILA expresses their interest in being a lifestyle brand, and in order for them to prevail, focus is needed in all areas of product development.

Do you believe that FILA’s strategic plan will be successful? Or do you think that regardless of their attempts, they will not be able to break away from their reputation of being non-aggressive and not very “cool”?

Food Fad?

I’ve been health conscious for some time now, but it wasn’t until about five month ago after I watched an eye-opening documentary (which I strongly recommend), called Forks Over Knives, that I decided to take the leap into the unknown. That’s right, I became a vegan. Just like that. Cold turkey. No pun intended.

I had already cut out all dairy products from my diet after finding out I was lactose intolerant and my consumption of meat wasn’t on a daily basis, so it couldn’t be that hard, right?. Walking into the grocery store the day I proclaimed myself better than all carnivores was pretty overwhelming. I soon realized how processed all of our “healthy” options really are. Needless to say, I stayed in the produce section.



I was never one to eat fast food on a regular basis, but it was nice to have it as my very last resort. Now that that’s no longer the case, I’ve realized just how inexpensive it really is to cook healthy meals versus purchasing what one may think is cheap. The picture to the left shows that a meal for four at McDonald’s comes out to be $27.89. With this deal of a purchase, you also get 900 calories per person, 37 grams of fat, 123 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of protein.

Pinto beans and rice, a meal that I now consume on a regular basis (minus that delicious looking piece of bacon), costs $9.26 (serving four individuals)…$18.63 cheaper than the McDonald’s meal and costs roughly $4.66 per person. This delicious meal has only 571 calories (37% less than McDonald’s), 15 gram of fat (59% less than McDonald’s), 83 grams of carbohydrates (33% less than McDonald’s), and 26 grams of protein (13% more than McDonald’s). And you thought vegans were protein deficient.

Have I convinced you to at least make smarter choices yet?




After I became a vegan, I’ve noticed that this “health food craze” is really beginning to take over. Although I probably wouldn’t step foot in McDonald’s unless I had to use the restroom or grab a bottle of water, they now do offer healthier options than what they are known for. If looking at the life cycle of the health food craze, I would place it in the growth stage. Making healthier food choices is like making a New Years resolution about hitting the gym: there’s already a negative correlation before you ever step foot in the gym…or put that first piece of delicious, green, leafy lettuce in your mouth and proclaim that you are full. But I believe that if individuals were more educated on the facts, rather than preconceived notions, they would make better food choices.



What stage in the life cycle would you categorize the health food craze? Do you think that it’ll ever reach maturity or is this just another fad that’ll eventually fizzle out?

Twitter Is Growing !!




I guess most of you have an account on Twitter or is thinking of opening an account in Twitter because you are starting to get bored from Facebook.

One of the main lessons I learned from my operations management class is the Product Life Cycle. A product goes through the following stages: Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. In my opinion, Twitter is currently in the growth stage due to the huge increase in the number of users per day. Twitter was established in March 2006 and by the end of 2007 it only had around 5 million users worldwide. In 2012, the number of users reached 200 million users worldwide. Twitter moved up to become the social networking site with the second highest number of users after Facebook which currently has around 900 million users worldwide. Twitter is very popular especially during important events. For example, Twitter users were actively using Twitter during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2010 NBA Finals, the day Michael Jackson passed away and during the 2011 Arab Spring. Moreover, many users are using Twitter to follow their role models, famous celebrities, professional athletes and even famous academic scholars.

                During Twitter’s introduction stage, the company was able to invest in research and development and determine what exactly a social media user want from a social networking website. They discovered that social media users demand instant updates and latest news that is even faster than the famous news channels on TV such as CNN and BBC. During the 2011 Arab Spring, almost all Twitter users were using Twitter to read about the latest updates and breaking news rather than watching the TV. As a result, both CNN and BBC and other main global news channels opened an account on Twitter in order to provide the users with the latest updates. Therefore, people usually followed those users who provided the latest and breaking news that are credible and reliable.

                Due to its extensive research and development and its ability to identify what exactly does the customer require, Twitter decided on October 2010 to introduce the “New Twitter” which allowed the sharing of videos and pictures as well as links to other websites. These developments increased the popularity of Twitter because now users can share their latest updates and breaking news with pictures and videos to support their claim or latest update. Moreover, Twitter created “hashtags #”. Those hashtags assist users to search the latest news about any topic in the world such as political events, economic events, entertainment events as well as sports event such as the World Cup and the Olympics.    

Twitter is still in the growth stage because it was capable of improving and developing its product and conducting ongoing research and development to understand what exactly does the user want and then identify the strategies that will enable Twitter to satisfy the needs and requirements of all its existing and potential users. It is very important to mention that many companies all around the world are using Twitter as their main advertisement media to gain new customers and increase its market share.

My question is how can Twitter defeat Facebook and become the number one online social networking website in the world?   

And finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog and since we are talking about Twitter, kindly follow me @mohammedashoor

Facebook Rebound!!

Facebook is one of the largest social networking website with more than 800 million users worldwide. It was founded
in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerbergand his roommates. The idea behind Facebook is a limited network between college class mates than expanded
to other colleges gradually growing to become the most used social networking service. The way Facebook grown dramatically fast brings the question, how will Mark Zuckerberg carry on his success?

Last class we learnt about the product life cycle and the 4 stages of it (introduction, growth, maturity,
decline). It was interesting to apply that on one of my favorite websites and see where it stands. From the history of Facebook, it’s obvious that the introduction phase was so difficult for such a young and talented group of Harvard students. The product life cycle was never planned or imagined to reach what they achieved today. Facebook moved smoothly to the growing phase, they concentrated on competitive services with a lot of improvements and options especially with more competitors introduced in the market. Users increased rapidly during the period from 2008 to 2012; however this fact made the debate if Facebook reached their peak and how far the maturity phase is.  Facebook appears to begin maturity phase of product life cycle. growth started to stall in some regions losing more than 7 million active users in US and Canada.

In your opinion, where do you see Facebook after 5 years??

Who Wants to Live Forever?

Marlboro does! The history of Marlboro cigarettes can be traced back to the year 1847 in the country, England. Marlboro cigarettes got its name from a street called Marlborough in London (where the first Marlboro factory was established). The brand was owned by a company called Philip Morris which was largely an England based cigarette company. In the year 1902, Philip Morris the company, created its subsidiary, Phillip Morris USA, in the city of New York. It may come as a surprise to some that when Marlboro was launched in 1924 in the US, the brand was actually targeted at women as its main consumers. The slogan that introduced the Marlboro cigarettes to the fairer sex of the United States was “Mild as May”.

However; later on due to socio-political events on the globe, the market for Marlboro cigarettes during WW II started falling, but reappeared in the 1950′s with a focus on promoting filtered cigarettes. During those times, the majority of cigarettes were non-filtered, thus, Marlboro’s creation of filtered cigarettes appealed to the public awareness of a healthy life. Afterward, a substantial change of advertising was made; all the subtle allusions to women disappeared and the company started to promote Marlboro as a man’s cigarette.

The Marlboro advertising campaign is said to be one of the most brilliant ad campaigns ever made. It transformed a feminine campaign, with the slogan “Mild as May”, into one that was macho and masculine, and which led to significant and immediate effects on sales. By 1957, sales represented a 300% increase within two years.

Now, almost 100 years later since its launch as a woman’s cigarette in 1924, the Marlboro brand is still one of the top-selling brands of Philip Morris and is known globally as the premium brand of cigarettes. Moreover, after so many years of being in the market, Marlboro is STILL in its maturity phase. Irrespective of rising cigarette taxes, increasing cigarette prices and recessionary times, Marlboro cigarettes enjoys its popularity throughout the world and is not affected by any of the above factors. In fact, besides the fact that it is still in its maturity phase; trends show that Marlboro will continue to ride the top for some more years to come. So how can a company that has been operating for so many years remain so successful?

Simply, the leading cause to Marlboro’s success is innovation; even with the success of its main product, red Marlboro, the company over the years kept introducing new tobacco blends and flavors to its customers.  For instance, it is available in different kinds such as, menthol, and clove flavored cigarettes. It is also available in different blends such as, Marlboro Light, Black and Gold.

So the question remains, with so much competition, and after so many years, how can Marlboro remain in its maturity phase rather than start declining? Also, is Marlboro’s success attributed to tobacco being an inelastic product or because people just can’t get enough of that sweet blend? 🙂

The Raise and Fall of a University

Our recent class discussions about Product Life Cycles made me think about the rise and fall of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) – Bahrain. After being one of the best universities on the island, the Management decided to phase-off their program from Bahrain, leaving behind thousands of Alumni, a team of staff members and two large campuses.

If I can make it there.. I can make it anywhere! was the thought of NYIT’s Middle East Chairman, Dr. M. Husain, after he succeeded in entering the United Arab Emirates education market with the first NYIT campus in the Middle East. His next mission was Bahrain; he believed that a campus in Bahrain could attract potential students living in Saudi’s eastern provinces and other GCC countries as well.

Like other organizations, Universities have a life cycle. They introduce their products as degrees to the market.


In October 2003, NYIT-Bahrain opened its doors for new applicants in a medium size villa in Juffair with a small team of academics and staff members. It was the first American university in Bahrain, offering limited Majors in Business and Information Technology. Students liked the idea of studying locally and earning an international degree and many were looking forward to attend the annual graduation trip to New York once they complete their programs.



A year later, NYIT had to triple its intake capacity to fulfill the increasing demand. A new campus was built, more sections and classes were offered and the many part-time professors converted to full-timers. Several universities were established in the same year, but NYIT managed to stand out and to gain a large share of Bahrain’s higher education market by introducing new degrees in Interior design and Computer graphics as well as having a very creative and active student life.



The university was running at an ideal capacity, where the number of the graduated students was equal to newly accepted freshmen. NYIT was doing great until 2009, when the Higher Education Council of Bahrain decided to come up with a new set of regulations, aiming to standardize all private universities in Bahrain. This would be done by standardizing courses, degrees and majors names and interfering with the Management and the Board’s regulations. NYIT could not adapt to the changes like the other local competitors, as all NYIT campuses around the world must follow the same American standard programs, otherwise they would be threatened to lose their International License and Accreditation.



Many attempts were made with the ministry to prevent further downturn, but all were unsuccessful.

Unfortunately in May 2010 NYITs’ Advisory Board officially declared the phase-off plan of the Bahrain branch, and started cost-cutting and shutting-down departments in order to reduce capacity. NYIT-Bahrain will continue to run until all students graduate by 2013.


Do you think that NYIT made the right decision by closing the Bahrain Campus? Were there any alternative solutions that they could’ve taken to extend their life cycle in Bahrain?

My you remember Nokia ?



My First Nokia Mobile Phone




Do you remember Nokia? Yes the mobile phone that was used by almost everyone five years ago. To most of us who were born in the 1980s, Nokia was our first mobile phone.  Nokia was dominating the market, everyone had Nokia. Nokia was very successful from 1998 up until 2008 when Blackberry and the iphone started to dominate the market and attract not only businessmen but also teenagers. Nokia lost a lot of its market share due to its weak forecasting of changing consumer tastes and preferences and its lack of sufficient research and development as well as its inability to compete with its competitors especially when it comes to adding innovative features and applications that are smarter and effective. Nokia lost its target market from all different ages whether it is the high school student or the university student or even the sophisticated business professional. It is sad to see that 5 years ago all my friends had a Nokia mobile phone and currently none of my friends have this mobile phone anymore even though it is still being sold in all our local mobile shops.


                We studied in our operations management class about Product Life Cycle that states that product goes through 4 stages: Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. Nokia is definitely now in the decline stage for many reasons. The first reason is Nokia’s poor product design which did not attract consumers  because they looked very dull and stale unlike the Blackberry and the iphone.  The second reason why Nokia reached its decline stage is that they were always one step behind their competitors mainly Blackberry and iphone especially when it comes to adding innovative features such as 3G and free chatting and social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. A third reason why Nokia reached its decline stage is its strong dependence on its brand equity. Its dependence and reliance on its brand equity for a long time led the company to focus less on research and development and less monitoring of all existing and potential competitors. A fourth reason why Nokia reached its decline stage is the changing technological environment. Nokia was very famous for its simplicity however people have changed because they started demanding smarter phones rather than simple phones. They started demanding phones with many smart applications rather than few simple applications. Therefore, the change in the taste and preferences of the consumer led Nokia to the decline stage as consumer demand decreased significantly in the past couple of years.

My question is what should Nokia do now to restore its glory and fame? Can it regain its market leadership one more time and become the number one mobile phone by defeating Blackberry and i-phone or is it too late?

Sophie: A Global Teething Trend

Can a product regain a strong market position and become a trend after 50 years? Yes, it can! Sophie the French Giraffe was the champion baby toy. An interesting article by “CHRISTINA PASSARIELLO” in the Wall Street Journal’s about a popular rubber toy that almost every French baby had for the last 50 years. We all know Barney, Elmo, Mickey Mouse, but Sophie?!

Sophie is invented by a French company “Vulli” it is made of pure rubber shipped monthly from Malaysia straight to the factory, and poured into a plaster with a capacity of 10 shaped Giraffes. After that they are put into an oven for couple of hours, and then
the Giraffes stay in boxes for two months until they are ready for the final touches of polish, inserting a whistle, sprayed by food grade paints and marking them with their tracking number via laser.

The story started when the company changed its CEO in 2006, he started to think outside the box, that if Sophie was that successful in France and sold 816,000 Sophie’s in 2010, It probably can compete with the different baby toys produced all over the globe; because from a philosophical point of view when we are born our brains are “Blank Tablets” so what makes a French baby different from an American or Chinese?  Mr. Jacuqimere decided to hire a Psychotherapist who concluded that babies are attracted through their five senses and accordingly Sophie was designed. Coming across the first barrier to globalization,
by translating the product attributes into 7 languages helped Sophie to become famous today. Further, Sophie is made of rubber not plastic which required more specialization in production; because it is difficult to be repeated.

On the other hand, safety is a major concern when it comes to babies and the most important thing parents
consider when purchasing a toy is the chemicals exposed to their babies, especially in Sophie that it has a direct contact to the baby’s mouth through their teeth. The CEO declared after the recent criticism Sophie received that
the product meets safety standards that are far beyond the EU standards and it “must be irreproachable.””.

Finally, Villu can be a great example for any company on how to bring their products back on the track. My questions
to you are: 1) at which phase of the product life cycle Sophie is today? 2) Despite the fact that Sophie “must
be irreproachable.””,
if the company wished reconsider that, how can they do so? 3) What other products you

can think about that can regain their position like Sophie? Fashion is one and will always be.



Celebrity Parents prefer Sophie for their Babies.







How Sophie attract Babies.





Asian Babies are in Love with Sophie too.




Below is the article link and there is  and interesting video that illustrates how Sophie is popular in the States.