There’s nothing like a worldwide pandemic to focus consumers’ attention on health, wellness and how a healthier lifestyle can help provide protection against disease! Multiple surveys have now shown that consumers reacted to the pandemic by taking more vitamins and supplements than they did before.
For example, the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s “CRN COVID-19 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements” found that 65% of supplement users aged 18-34, 50% of users aged 35-54 and 23% of users aged 55+ altered their supplement routine in 2020. Of these, a whopping 91% increased supplement use.
Similarly, New Hope Network’s January 2021 survey found that 54% of consumers had increased their consumption of supplements during the pandemic. Among natural channel shoppers, 70% indicated they had increased consumption, with nearly half saying this increase had been either “moderate” or “considerable” (versus just “a little”).
Thanks to this focus on health, the supplements and nutraceuticals industry has weathered the pandemic storm…and is poised for continued post-pandemic growth.
Increased use of supplements may be here to stay
The most recent surveys indicate that only a tiny fraction of people plan to decrease their use of supplements after they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the New Hope Network survey found that 51% of natural channel shoppers actually plan to increase their supplement usage after vaccination.
The pandemic shifted consumers focus to immunity
Back in 2019, the big growth areas in the nutritional supplements world were sports nutrition, anti-aging and CBD products. With gyms closed, many sports nutrition products fell in popularity. CBD products fell out of vogue as well.
Not surprisingly, consumers reacted to the prospect of catching a potentially deadly illness by focusing on immunity. While general health products such as multivitamins also fared very well, immune support is the big story. Overall, people have wanted to do all they can to strengthen their immune system, and they have good reason to believe that supplements can help. Consequently, sales of immunity-oriented supplements surged in 2020.
According to Euromonitor International’s “Dietary Supplements in the U.S.” report, U.S. sales of immune system-supporting supplements increased a whopping 32.4% in 2020. Globally, the report shows that these sales increased 14.9%. Sellers are reporting that many of these sales are to new customers, further evidence that the pandemic has shifted buying patterns.
Which supplements have these consumers purchasing? Those who are looking specifically for immunity support have shown significant interest in:
- Single-letter vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D
- Zinc and Magnesium, especially when taken together
- Probiotics, as consumers are starting to see a connection between gut health and both immunity and general health
The question now is whether this interest in using supplements to boost immunity will continue after the pandemic. While there’s no way to know for certain, it stands to reason that those who believe that supplements helped them to stay healthy during the pandemic will continue to turn to supplementation as part of a healthier lifestyle going forward. We believe that this will be one of the drivers of industry growth.
Sleep aids have also remained popular
Lack of sleep has been a common problem in the U.S. for many years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one third of U.S. adults report they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep, and that these sleep deficits are linked with many chronic diseases and conditions. Pandemic-related stresses have made sleep even more elusive for many.
The over-the-counter sleep aid category is made up almost entirely of melatonin-based products. Because most of these sales take place in the mainstream retail channel, these sleep aids have a very broad consumer reach and acceptance. Americans’ sleep problems are not abating. Demand for melatonin-based products is therefore likely to play an important part in the growth of the supplements industry for the foreseeable future.
Other factors are also contributing to demand
An aging population is also an important factor here. Prior to the pandemic, studies showed that people age 60+ were more likely to take supplements on a daily basis than younger consumers. The aging global population has been a driver of industry demand for quite some time and is projected to continue to play a significant role.
In addition, as vitamins and supplements are being rebranded as part of a wellness / self-care lifestyle—and promoted via highly appealing visual imagery on social media—their popularity has increased among millennials as well.
The move to e-commerce may also spur sales
With retail stores forced to shutter and consumers told to stay home as much as possible, e-commerce has soared across all categories (not just supplements) since the pandemic hit. As consumers embrace the convenience of e-commerce, this in itself may drive demand.
For example, let’s look at what happens after a consumer uses up the supply they had on hand. In the past they may have simply gone without a product until it was convenient to get to the store to purchase more. Now they’ve grown accustomed to simply making a few clicks to have that product delivered directly to their doorstep—so there’s no reason to run out. Subscription services further capitalize on this desire for extreme convenience. Once you sign up, your monthly supply just keeps arriving at your home without any further effort on your part.
In recent years dietary supplements have enjoyed slow, steady growth. These factors all point to continued growth in the foreseeable future.
Of course, the increase in demand for vitamins and supplements means an increased demand for empty capsules as well. CapsCanada, a leading manufacturer of high-quality gelatin and vegetarian capsules, has the reliable supply that brands need.