Despite “Sluggish” Economy, Consumers Still Buying Supplements, CRN Reports

April 11, 2012

Despite a sluggish economy, over two-thirds of Americans report the economy has not affected their household’s purchasing habits of dietary supplements, according to a survey by CRN.

More than two-thirds of Americans-71%-say they continue to purchase dietary supplements, regardless of a sluggish economy, reports the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, DC). The data comes courtesy of the association’s most recent Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.

Only a minority of adults (29%) reported that the economy has impacted their household’s purchasing habits of supplements, the survey said. When asked specifically how the economy has affected their purchasing habits, only 7% of respondents said they have stopped purchasing supplements because of the economy.

Overall, according to the survey, use of dietary supplements is on the rise, with 69% of Americans surveyed reporting that they use supplements-up from 66% in 2010.

For the 29% of consumers who said the economy has impacted their supplements purchasing, many said they are engaging in various money-saving tactics, including buying fewer supplements as a means to save money, buying supplements only when supplements are on sale, and purchasing less expensive brands.

The CRN survey also found that the supplement purchasing habits of those 55 and older were least affected by the trying economy, with 78% of that group indicating they were not affected. This was followed by consumers 18 to 34 (70%) and those ages 35 to 54 (65%).

Further findings indicated that gender didn’t appear to be a factor, as men (71%) and women (70%) were equally likely to not let the economy affect their purchasing habits of dietary supplements.

CRN says that its findings correspond with those from a report in AdAge magazine titled “The New Necessities: What Products and Services Can Consumers Not Live Without?”. The report cited a study by advertising agency Leo Burnett looking into the impact of consumer "wants" versus "needs" in a down economy. In a diagramof wants versus needs, vitamins were listed as something that consumers couldn’t bear to cut back on-on par with car insurance, routine car maintenance, mobile phone service, and household repairs.

“What’s interesting about our survey findings and those of Leo Burnett is that, even in the midst of trying economic times, dietary supplements are not something consumers are willing to sacrifice. While they certainly are looking for ways to save money, they clearly know the value of using dietary supplements to promote overall health and wellness,” stated Judy Blatman, senior vice president, communications, CRN, in a press release. “Given the ongoing debate about healthcare in America, it’s encouraging to see consumers taking proactive steps, such as incorporating dietary supplements into their health regimen.”

The 2011 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements was conducted August 25 to 29, 2011 by Ipsos Public Affairs and funded by CRN.  The survey was conducted online and included a national sample of 2,015 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel.  The survey has been conducted annually since 2000. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points.