The Diet Consumer: Pill Poppers vs. Food-Focused  12/16/2016

Sometimes, we wish we could predict the future. Then we would know if that new product was a hit or flop before investing in it, if our “great idea” for a new promotion would generate profit, and best of all, we could know what products our customers will love and purchase.

Hundreds of recent articles and surveys have decreed that today’s consumer – especially the coveted brand-loyal millennial – are increasingly interested in natural, organic and “better for you” products and avoiding processed foods and traditional supplements. This shift in consumer preference may cause alarm for the Diet and Weight Management category.

Since 2012, Bulu Box subscribers have sampled over five million vitamin, supplement and snack products. With monthly surveys from our subscribers combined with product sales on our ecommerce shop, we’ve amassed data on what consumers say about products and what they actually purchase.

Based on these findings, we have discovered that you can categorize Diet and Weight Management product consumers in two distinct profiles: Traditional Pill Poppers and Food-Focused Dieters. Understanding what these two consumer profile groups will purchase will help Diet and Weight Management product suppliers and retailers make data-backed decisions.

Pill Poppers

Traditional Pill Poppers are fairly self-explanatory. Whether they’re looking to gain, lose or maintain their weight, these consumers crave simple products with ingredients they can feel. It doesn’t take complicated messaging or expensive ingredients and certifications to woo this group to your product or brand. However, retailers and suppliers shouldn’t shy away from bundling: these consumers expect a well-designed product kit to be effective in reaching their goals (which can be profitable for retailers.)

These consumers trust the trends they read about and our sampling and sales data shows that trendy ingredients like raspberry ketone, green coffee bean extract and Garcinia Cambogia resonate best. Unique delivery methods flop with this group; these consumers choose pills or tablets for their repeat purchases. Additionally, any ingredient that produces a result you can feel – think caffeine in a thermogenic or cassia bark in a detox and cleanse product—satisfies the consumer that the product is working.

Food Focused Dieters

Food-Focused Dieters are a new group of consumer, likely to be younger than traditional Pill Poppers, who are looking for a food-based approach to weight management. Our User Profile Survey data indicates that nearly 70% of this consumer group has recently or currently is abiding by a diet program like Paleo, Keto or Whole30.

The products these consumers repeatedly purchase are much different from the Traditional Pill Poppers; in fact, the social media savvy Food-Focused Dieters often devote themselves to publicly rebuking what they see as the “fix it fast” mentality of weight management pills. Our sampling and sales data shows that Food-Focused Dieters seek convenience, with bars comprising three of their top five most purchased products. They scour ingredient lists to comply with their food-based diet programs. Gluten-free, dairy-free and organic certifications are the most popular: out of the top 15 products purchased by this group, 100% held a gluten-free certification, 60% of the products had a dairy-free formula and 37% were certified organic. 

For retailers and suppliers, knowing and understanding the purchasing habits and product desires of these consumers provides an opportunity to hone marketing and product offerings to improve sales.

Editor’s Note: Paul will take a deep dive on this topic during his educational session at ECRM’s Vitamin, Diet & Sports Nutrition EPPS next month, in which he will discuss specific products and ingredients that resonate with these consumer groups and the types of promotions, bundles, etc. that drive sales for these groups. To register, click the link below.

Paul Jarrett

Bulu Box

Paul Jarrett is CEO and Co-Founder of Bulu Marketplace, Bulu Marketplace is a data-driven, proprietary matchmaking platform built to connect retail buyers and consumer packaged goods suppliers. (

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