GNC Nutritional Supplement Review
- Trial Period
General Nutrition Centers (GNC) is the world's largest nutritional supplement manufacturer and retailer. GNC was originally founded in 1935 by David Shakarian. Originally called Lackzoom, Shakarian's Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania store made a paltry $35 on its first day. Over time, Lackzoom continued to open more stores, eventually expanding beyond Pittsburgh and becoming GNC in the 1960s.
Today, GNC's headquarters remain in Pittsburgh. However, the company has grown exponentially, including 4,800 retail stores in the United States and hundreds more in 48 international countries.
The company's motto, "Live Well," is a testament to the quality that you can expect when purchasing nutritional supplements from GNC.
GNC acts on its simple slogan by offering an enormous line of nutritional supplements at affordable prices, with a wide variety of customer service features designed to make your online or in-person shopping experience as rewarding as possible. The company continues to manufacture many of its own nutritional supplements while distributing supplements from a number of other reputable manufacturers, allowing for a diverse product line including categories such as Vitamins, Sports Nutrition, Protein, Weight Loss, Cleansing and Digestion, Herbs, Energy and Endurance, Super Foods and Greens, and even Pets.
As a GNC customer, you'll receive the high quality customer support that you'd expect from an established brick-and-mortar brand. The company offers direct support via phone and email, as well as a 30-day return policy that allows you to try any product for up to a month before determining whether to keep it.
Each nutritional supplement sold by GNC is printed with the GNC Quality Commitment. This commitment describes how GNC begins the process of developing a nutritional supplement by creating a formulation based on quality. All of the raw ingredients used in GNC nutritional supplements are guaranteed for quality, consistency and potency. Both the ingredients and finished products are rigorously tested at third-party, FDA-registered laboratories. The products are accurately dated to ensure freshness, and all of the finished supplements are tested for both weight and disintegration in order to ensure absorption into your body. Further, the nutritional supplements are tested to be free of lead, cadmium, mercury and other heavy metals. These tests ensure the safety and efficacy of all GNC nutritional supplements.
The GNC website is extremely deep and detailed. Each product page thoroughly describes the nutritional supplement in question, including benefits lists, ingredient profiles, label photos and customer testimonials. A "What's New" area displays the newest arrivals at GNC's online store, while the "Weekly Ads" section shows the latest sales and promotions at your local GNC outlets. In addition to using the standard product categories such as Vitamins and Sports Nutrition, customers can shop GNC's product catalog according to condition/goal, brand and ingredient. Users are free to create an account, allowing them to track their past purchases and set up an auto-ship program in which they'll receive the same supplements on a regular basis.
The GNC website is unique in that it allows customers to search according to ingredient. This is a boon to expert nutritional supplement seekers who already know which ingredients work best for different health concerns, conditions and needs.
Each product page found on the GNC website includes a Supplement Facts tab. Clicking on this tab will reveal a complete list of active and inactive ingredients, as well as a breakdown of the product's nutritional profile including daily nutritional values. Many of the product pages also include a link to an image of the product's label, which contains the same information in addition to usage instructions, applicable warnings and a list of what isn't included, such as wheat, dairy, yeast and artificial colors.
GNC is worthy of praise for their commitment to transparency in listing their ingredients. However, conscious consumers should be sure to read each individual product label before choosing a nutritional supplement. Not all of the products sold by GNC are all-natural, and some do include additives such as caramel color and glycerin. Those who insist on an all-natural organic supplement regimen may be disappointed by GNC's product line. At the same time, it's important to note that all of GNC's products are safe when used as directed. As with all nutritional supplements, it's important to consult your doctor before starting a new regimen.
Much of GNC's scientific research regarding nutritional supplementation is conducted by its Medical Advisory Board, a team of doctors, researchers and medical experts that provide professional insight and wellness information to the company. GNC uses the advice of its Medical Advisory Board to develop their product line and educate their consumers. The GNC Medical Advisory Board contains the following individuals:
- Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, MD, FACS
- Dr. Dan Edmundowicz, MS, MD, FACC
- Dr. Frank J. Costa, MD
Although many of the site's product descriptions do allude to scientific research, GNC does not readily provide links to clinical studies performed on their nutritional supplements or the ingredients included in these products. This is unfortunate given that many of the fundamental active ingredients found in GNC nutritional supplements have undergone extensive clinical testing, often with positive results. However, you'll need to navigate away from the site if you wish to find this information.
GNC is one of the largest and most popular nutritional supplement retailers in the world, and as such, their site has attracted a plethora of testimonials regarding their products. These testimonials, which are very positive overall for most products, can be found by navigating to the individual product pages located on the GNC website. Each testimonial includes the reviewer's name and location, as well as a list of pros and cons, a review summary and a bottom line detailing whether the reviewer would ultimately recommend the product. Each testimonial also includes a one- to five-star rating, and an icon indicating whether the review was posted by a Verified Buyer (confirming that they've actually purchased the item they're currently reviewing).
For each product page on the GNC website, the one- to five-star reviews are averaged and displayed as an overall rating. The pros and cons (such as "easy to use," "effective," "good value," "too expensive" and "not effective") are also aggregated and displayed at the top of the testimonials section. This allows you to see the product's overall rating, advantages and disadvantage at a glance without thoroughly reading all of the testimonials. This is a needed feature given that some of GNC's nutritional supplements have well over 100 testimonials.
Overall, GNC maintains an expansive line of effective nutritional supplements. However, hundreds of products are available from the site, and some will certainly be more effective than others. For this reason, it's important to read the testimonials carefully to determine whether a given nutritional supplement will properly address the health concern or condition you're attempting to improve.
GNC offers customer support via an email web form and toll-free phone. You can contact the company's customer service team by calling 1-877-GNC-4700. The company also offers customer support via a FAQ section entitled the GNC Help Desk. Here, you'll find detailed information pertaining to accounts, order status, payment options, shipping, gift services, returns, safety and security.
GNC maintains a strong commitment to customer service. After placing an order, you'll receive a confirmation email with an order tracking link. Clicking this link will redirect you to your GNC account, in which you can track your pending orders and view the status of past orders. GNC encourages all of its customers to contact its support team directly in the event of an issue with an order.
Unlike many online nutritional supplement retailers and manufacturers, GNC is a highly visible brand with physical retail stores in locations across the country. As such, one of the best ways in which to receive support from the company is by visiting your nearest GNC retailer. You can use the Store Locator area of the GNC website to find the closest store.
If you're unsatisfied with any product purchased from GNC, you may return it for a full refund within 30 days. Note that the money back guarantee does not include the price of shipping, handling or gift wrapping. Both opened and unopened nutritional supplements are acceptable for return. You must include all paperwork and original packaging in order to ensure a full refund. It's also possible to return an item that you purchased from the GNC website to a physical GNC store. Be sure to bring the packing slip detailing your order in addition to a photo ID and the credit or debit card used to complete the original purchase.
Although the 30-day return policy is comparable to what you'd find at many online nutritional supplement retailers, a longer trial period would be beneficial. This is because many nutritional supplements, including herbal remedies, super foods and other all-natural supplements, require approximately one month to take effect in your body. As a result, you may decide to return an item just days before its effects would have been realized. This is a detriment to both GNC (which must therefore process more returns) and GNC customers (who may give up on a perfectly good nutritional supplement simply because they haven't experienced benefits within the trial period).
GNC offers reasonable pricing that's in line with what you'd find from other online nutritional supplement retailers. Many of the products are subject to rotating Hot Buy sales in which you'll receive a discount of 10% to 50% off of the retail purchase price. While Hot Buys are not subject to additional discounts, other products are. Some of the discount opportunities available from GNC include the following:
- By signing up for the GNC email newsletter, you'll receive a 15% discount off of your next purchase. The newsletter itself contains information regarding sales, promotions and coupons.
- The GNC Gold Card, a membership subscription offer, allows you to save 20% off of all orders placed during the first week of each month for a full year. The membership card itself costs $15 per year.
- The site's Sale page displays clearance items, including Hot Buys and products to which you can apply additional discounts.
- Many of the items include "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" offers.
- Certain "Deal of the Day" items show a heavily discounted price after being added to your shopping cart.
- Most orders over $99 are eligible for free shipping.
GNC calculates shipping fees dynamically based on the overall size and weight of your order, as well as the specific products the order includes. Shipping fees are generally very reasonable - you can expect to pay around $3.50 to $4.50 when placing an order for a single bottle of a given nutritional supplement. Shipping upgrades such as 2-Day Air and Overnight Air are available for an additional fee.
GNC also offers an auto-delivery program in which you'll receive the same supplements at a locked-in price every 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 or 180 days. Auto-delivery, which is only available with certain supplements, results in free shipping on every recurring order.
GNC is the largest and most universally recognized brand in the nutritional supplement industry, and the quality of their operations indicates that they deserve this title. The company sells a huge variety of nutritional supplements to fit virtually any health concern or need, and the products themselves are designed based on the latest nutritional science in addition to recommendations from their expert panel of doctors and researchers. Most of the products have received dozens (if not hundreds) of positive testimonials from customers, none of which are edited before they're posted on the website.
GNC is committed to making high quality nutritional supplements affordable. As such, they frequently offer significant sales on their products in addition to "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" offers, free shipping on orders exceeding $99 and a membership discount program. If you ever encounter a problem with a GNC product, you can seek customer service by visiting their website or your local GNC outlet. With nearly 5,000 retail locations in the US alone, 1,200 of which are located in Rite-Aid pharmacies, it's easy to work with the company in person.