Stronger, Faster, Smarter: Today's Vitamin & Supplement Consumer  7/24/2017

Today’s vitamin, mineral and supplement consumer is not just looking to maintain good health and offset the effects of aging. They are looking to get “swol,” they want to shred their abs, run faster, sleep better, and in general optimize their performance – both in their workouts as well as their everyday lives.

Because of this, they are looking to complement their multivitamins with additional products that deliver functional benefits in a few key areas, and buyers and suppliers who attended the recent Weight Management, Sports Nutrition & Vitamin EPPS are addressing this through new product development and the packaging, marketing, and merchandising that is behind them. They are not just telling you what these products are, but what they do and how they help consumers accomplish their healthy lifestyle goals.

SOS Hydration is a case-in-point. The company makes a powder that, when mixed with water and consumed, helps people rehydrate after losing sweat from a tough workout (or following a late night out), and one of the ways they help retailers like Kroger get the word out about the product and its benefits is by hosting a series of “Run With an Olympian” events at select store locations. During these events – one of which was held at the EPPS for attendees – a SOS representative and one of several Olympic finalists who serve as volunteer brand ambassadors hold a running clinic, during which they provide tips on how to improve running technique. This is followed by a short run, and upon their return, participants rehydrate with SOS while having a Q&A with the Olympian (see video below).

This is a great example of how to market the functional benefits of these products, and suppliers and retailers would do well to incorporate some of these tactics into their marketing efforts. Following are some of the other types of functional benefits touted by suppliers at the EPPS, each of which can lend itself to creative marketing opportunities:

Increasing Energy: Whether for a pre-workout boost or just a quick pick me up to get through the rest of the workday, these products, like 5-Hour Energy, typically incorporate Vitamin B12 and caffeine to provide energy to the user, and come in a variety of delivery formats, whether shots, gummies, gum, powders, or drinks. This continues to be a high-growth segment in the category.

Muscle-Building: It was clear from the bulging biceps of many of the supplier reps in attendance that they not only sell these types of products, but use them as well in all of their forms, including drinks, powders, shots – and even cookies. Having tasted some of these products personally at the EPPS, I can tell you that they have come a long way in terms of flavor and texture. One steadily-growing component of this segment are plant-based proteins, such as Premier Nutrition’s new Plant Protein Power Bar -- which is no surprise considering how many more vegans and vegetarians there are these days – in fact, we have a bunch on the ECRM staff!

Weight Loss: On the flip side of the coin are those looking to shed pounds, and products aimed at this continue to be popular, and likely always will with the ongoing obesity epidemic. Fortunately, companies like Nutrisystem, one of the EPPS supplier attendees, have been coming up with even healthier options and retail offerings for weight loss that span different categories such as weight-loss kits, shakes, and bar meal replacements.

Cognitive Function: Not only are consumers looking to boost the performance of their bodies, but they want to enhance their brain power, as well, and suppliers have developed a variety of products aimed at increasing focus, not to mention staving off the cognitive impairment that comes with aging.

Better Sleep: There has been a lot of research lately supporting the benefits of sleep for enhancing performance, losing weight, and overall well-being. Indeed, in the past, executives used to brag about how little sleep they got away with, now, they brag about how much sleep they get (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is a perfect example of this).

Healthier Skin, Hair & Nails: These products show that beauty is in fact more than skin deep, and are developed to enhance the hydration and elasticity of the skin and support thicker hair and nails.

Immunity/Digestion: Since we can’t operate at peak performance if we are ill or having digestive issues, products aimed at these two areas such as probiotics and antioxidants are also popular among these consumers, as well.

The importance of these functional products to retail buyers was evident in their choice of ECRM/Drug Store News Buyers Choice Award winners. First place winner, Coffee Booster, Inc., makes liquid supplements that can be added to coffee aimed at addressing several of these functional benefits, including a collagen supplement for healthy skin, as well as supplements for immunity and focus. Finalist Corr-Jensen’s Orb Sleep Complex was developed to help consumers get a healthy night’s rest.

With the wealth of products addressing all of these functional issues in vitamins and supplements, there are many choices available for shoppers to make. The beauty of this category, however, according to Dr. Kurt Jetta, CEO of TABS Analytics – who presented TABS latest research at the EPPS -- is that it has high space elasticity, meaning the more you add SKUs, the more sales you’ll get in the category. So with a combination of marketing and merchandising by function, as well as an expansion of SKUs addressing these popular functions, you can help boost the performance with these performance-boosting products!

SOS Hydration hosted a Run with an Olympian clinic at the EPPS

Judy Ard

VP of Health Care

Judy can be reached at 440.528.0424

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