Who are today’s key joint health customers?

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Nutritional OutlookNutritional Outlook Vol. 26 No. 3
Volume 26
Issue 3

Which customers are buying joint health supplements?

© Matthieu / Stock.adobe.com

© Matthieu / Stock.adobe.com

Tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis…oh my! These are just a few of the better-known joint issues that millions of Americans suffer from daily. Results of a University of Michigan poll released in late 2022 found that 70% of older U.S. adults report experiencing joint pain regularly.

But it’s not just older adults who are affected. Millennials are concerned about joint health and injury due to their more active lives. Boomers, too, are concerned about getting hurt while being active. Which begs the question: what are individuals reaching for in the joint health aisle, no matter their age?

Consumer Concerns

“Millennials are entering their midlife years when joint health often becomes more important,” says Sarah Marion, PhD. Marion is the director of syndicated research at market researcher Murphy Research. “This group is going to be one to watch as they seek to maintain their fitness and activity levels into their midlife years, especially because they take an experimental approach to wellness,” she advises.

The joint health market is poised to grow among older consumers as well, she notes, as the Baby Boomer generation moves fully into the age when most retire. “With good health, medical science, and the greatest wealth of any living generation on their side, Boomers are driving active retirement trends, from pickleball at the gym to full-scale active-living communities,” Marion says.

For now, how intently consumers continue to prioritize preventative joint health remains to be seen. As Mike Hughes, head of research and insights at market researcher FMCG Gurus, points out, for most consumers, emotional health takes precedence these days. He believes this will be true for the next 12 months due to the high levels of stress and uncertainty people are currently experiencing. As such, “With this in mind, consumers will be less likely to take a prevention-over-cure approach to joint health and instead only look to address any issues if they are suffering from specific symptoms,” Hughes cautions.

In general, more consumer education around joint health is needed, Hughes says. Due to the pandemic, many individuals are more proactive about their health. But, says Hughes, this focus hasn’t necessarily landed on joint health. Consumers, says Hughes, tend to associate issues such as aches and pains with the inevitable consequences of life and aging rather than being too sedentary too often. “The joint and bone health industry needs to highlight how problems are becoming more common in younger and mid-age consumers, and what steps can be taken to prevent this and minimize risks,” he says.

Supplement Customers

For those who are concerned about joint health, though, it’s a big worry. “More than one in four Boomers—28%, to be exact—feel held back from their health goals by injury or fear of being injured,” Marion notes. This is the largest number of any generation, even compared to seniors.

Taking vitamins, minerals, and supplements is standard for the majority of Boomers, says Marion, who notes that 68% of Boomers take these daily. They also rate these as more influential on their overall health than do younger consumers, she states. “However,” she adds, “they focus mainly on multivitamins and a tailored regimen of individual vitamins and minerals, while younger generations are more likely to create personalized approaches across the category, including specialized supplements, personalized vitamin packs, herbs, amino acids, and probiotics.”

And here, manufacturers and brands have an opportunity. “Building bone and joint health into multivitamin formulas, or rolling several familiar individual vitamins and minerals up into a bone and joint health product designed to be taken on top of a multivitamin, would appeal to these active aging consumers,” she explains.

Ingredients Trending in Joint Health Now

When it comes to trending ingredients in the joint health category, collagen is a sure winner. Hughes believes collagen will grow increasingly popular in the next five years. Information from Grand View Research indicates that the Asian population, in particular, recognizes this ingredient’s benefits for joint health.

Other ingredients and pairings will also influence the market, says Hughes. “The association with probiotics and joint and bone health is one that will also become more established over the next couple of years,” he predicts. Protein and calcium, along with omega fatty acids, are all ingredients that consumers are also currently associating with joint health, he adds.

Joint health is of valuable consideration to all age groups. As Hughes notes, problems related to joint health are common across demographics. Thankfully, preventative measures can be effective in improving joint health no matter which age group one falls into.

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