COVID-19 brought new supplement users, but how does industry keep them?

November 12, 2020
Will Cowling

The COVID-19 pandemic attracted new users to the dietary supplement category, but how can the industry retain these consumers long-term? Market researcher FMCG Gurus explores.

The nutritional supplements market is well established across the globe as consumers look to take proactive steps when addressing their health and wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic has also amplified this desire to lead a healthier lifestyle as a preventative to stay healthy in the face of illness or disease. However, the nutritional supplements industry currently finds itself at something of a crossroads: consumers are making greater attempts than ever before to improve their health while at the same time being more cautious than ever when using supplements. So, what barriers exist within the market, and why are some consumers still reluctant to turn to nutrition supplements?

Continuing Interest in Consumer Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the health and wellness market as consumers reevaluate their attitudes and behaviors towards their health. FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that 62% of global consumers state they have become more conscious of their overall health as a result of COVID-19. However, although COVID-19 has amplified this desire to lead a healthier lifestyle, consumers were already taking a more proactive approach to their health before the pandemic. For instance, 63% of global consumers stated they have incorporated healthier food and drink into their diets over the past two years.

Nutritional Supplement Usage and Barriers

The use of nutritional supplements can be a great way for consumers to get extra nutrients into their diets. However, FMCG Gurus research shows that only 21% of global consumers say they currently use nutritional supplements, with 30% of those consumers saying they have turned to supplements in less than the last six months. These newer entrants to the market pale in comparison to the proportion of established supplement users, meaning that while a significant proportion of new consumers are turning to nutritional supplements in the short-term, they may struggle to stick to such consumption habits in the long-term—and at some point in the future ultimately stop taking these products.

How can the industry encourage these customers to stick with supplements? First and foremost, consumers want products that can be easily incorporated into their daily life. This is highlighted as consumers state they prefer to get their nutrition from food and beverages even in a COVID-19 environment. FMCG Gurus research shows that in July 2020, 50% of global consumers said they had turned to food to boost their health more in the last month, whereas only 14% of global consumers had turned to nutritional supplements to boost their health.

One of the key reasons consumers prefer to opt for food and beverages to boost their health is the sensory appeal and convenience these products offer. In order to compete, nutritional supplement makers must ensure their products are likewise as easily incorporated into daily diets and appealing to consume.

Furthermore, consumers can find it difficult to trust nutritional supplements and therefore need reassurance around product claims and efficacy. FMCG Gurus research highlights that of the consumers who do not use nutritional supplements, 70% would like to know about the amount of nutritional ingredients in the products, with 27% wanting to know more about the risk of side effects. This implies that it is important that the nutritional supplement industry takes greater steps to educate non-users of nutritional supplements about the dosages and variety of nutritional ingredients in these products.

Recommendations

With a growing number of consumers across the globe actively seeking new ways to boost their health in a COVID-19 environment, nutritional supplement brands are seeing great opportunities. However, it is important that brands and manufacturers be transparent and provide clear ingredient information about their products. It is also key not to position nutritional supplements as a magic bullet health solution and instead as a compromise-free product that can boost overall health.

Will Cowling is the marketing manager at FMCG Gurus. For more information about FMCG Gurus’ latest report, “Exploring the Impact of Nutritional Supplements – Global Report 2020,” e-mail Info@fmcggurus.com.

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