Dietary supplement subscriptions: Driving growth long after COVID-19

Nutritional OutlookNutritional Outlook Vol. 24 No. 6
Volume 24
Issue 6

How nutraceutical brands can drive powerful subscription programs during COVID-19 and beyond

Photo © natagolubnycha

Photo © natagolubnycha

Health-conscious consumers have had to grapple with how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shoppers who are unwilling or unable to visit brick-and-mortar stores have turned to e-commerce subscriptions for their nutraceutical and supplement needs.

In fact, since the pandemic began, consumer demand for subscriptions has gone through the roof across verticals. Nutraceutical brands, which have always been a strong candidate for recurring orders, saw a 27% increase1 in subscription enrollments in 2020, compared to 2019.

Below are ways nutraceutical brands can drive powerful subscription programs during COVID-19 and beyond.

Content Is the New Consultation

When it comes to nutrition, the key is matching customers’ goals with the products that will get them there. For those who traditionally shopped in stores, consultations with associates and experts guided shoppers to the products that were right for them.

To make up for these in-store recommendations, brands must offer more online content and advice to educate their shoppers and, ultimately, drive them toward subscriptions. This can include detailed information on product pages and blogs as well as links to any third-party resources that help inform shoppers.

Digital channels offer consumers the opportunity to research for themselves, feel confident in their choices, and purchase instantly. Once these decisions are made, online shoppers have immediate access to the brand as well as a sense of loyalty to the products.

Loyalty Is the Name of the Game

Finding new subscribers can be difficult with so many companies vying for their business—especially when you consider that many nutraceutical brands have their own array of vitamins and products specific to gender, age, level of activity, and more.

As such, once a customer tries a product, the brand or retailer must ensure that shopper returns. Fortunately, loyalty is relatively innate in this space because to truly reap the benefits, consumers must take the product repeatedly.

However, these loyal customers don’t come easy, so driving a superior subscriber experience is key.

To boost retention, brands should focus on key loyalty-driving efforts, such as offering a robust subscription-management portal. These portals are a space where a subscriber can review and make adjustments to their recurring orders with a few simple clicks. Whether offering subscribers SMS communication preference options or making it easy for them to up their dosage, subscription systems that give subscribers more transparency, power, and autonomy will build trust and loyalty to the brand.

Guiding Orders for a Streamlined Process

Subscriptions are all about making it easier on customers. Therefore, brands should make the process as straightforward as possible by guiding customers through it. The best way to do this is by asking questions.

If a brand asks a shopper what results they’re looking for, the shopper may say “muscle mass.” From there, the site could recommend protein-centric products based on dietary preferences. Then, if the shopper is vegan, they’ll be shown plant-based options instead of whey protein.

Guided selling streamlines the customer experience, removing friction, and gets them to checkout faster.

Curated Experiences Make Decisions Easier

Similarly, curated offerings can make the journey to subscriptions quicker. In an industry as vast as nutraceuticals, shoppers can feel inundated with options to the point of decision paralysis. Suggesting predetermined bundles can take some guessing out of the process for overwhelmed shoppers. For example, an immune-boosting collection will give shoppers zinc, vitamin C, and other supplements all at once.

Since shoppers are no longer receiving in-store guidance, they will welcome the online help and easy decisions.

The Right Order Frequencies Ensure Results

Again, the benefits of nutraceuticals peak when they are consistently taken. However, shoppers may not know how or when to reorder to avoid interruption.

Brands should make frequency suggestions to help recommend when these orders arrive. Setting the default ordering option to subscriptions instead of one-time transactions will help customers get the most out of their products. Subscriptions can make delivery of their next bottle of probiotics, for instance, a breeze. In fact, the nutraceuticals space is prime for this type of system because brands can assume, if a product is taken every day, exactly when a user will need the next order.

Within their subscription platform, brands should also make sure default frequencies are correct so that the transition between orders is seamless. So, for instance, a 60-day refill shouldn’t be the default setting for a 30-day bottle.

Look Beyond COVID-19

Nutraceutical subscriptions are a powerful tool to keep customers happy, healthy, and loyal. Shoppers save time and money when they’re able to order once, subscribe, and automatically have products regularly delivered.

Even as capacity restrictions ease and stores reopen, consumers will continue to rely on e-commerce offerings long after the pandemic has passed. Increased interest in subscriptions will remain steady as consumers recognize the convenience and simplicity they experienced over the past year. Will shoppers be willing to go back to the old ways? Many won’t. Nutraceutical brands should take note of this and craft strategies to grow a loyal audience beyond COVID-19.

Casey Burt is strategic client director, nutraceuticals, for Ordergroove (New York City). Ordergroove enables “Relationship Commerce” experiences for hundreds of brands and retailers. With successful subscription, predictive reorder, and membership experiences, the company’s technology platform, coupled with artificial intelligence, analytics, and unmatched consumer expertise, helps top brands transform their commerce experiences across every channel while making their consumers’ lives easier.


  1. Cross D. “Year in Review: How 2020 Changed Subscriptions Forever.” Ordergroove. Published February 3, 2021. Accessed here.
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