Sound Bodies, Sound Minds at ECRM’s Vitamin Session 2/27/2018
ECRM’s recent Vitamin, Weight Management & Sports Nutrition EPPS was jam-packed with educational opportunities, ranging from category insights to industry regulations to learning proper running form with an Olympian athlete, and even some morning yoga.
In between these activities retail buyers discovered new and innovative products from suppliers at the session, running the gamut from energy and fat-burning, to cognitive function boosters and beauty from within. (Here’s a highlight of some products written up by Drug Store News, as well as coverage of the ECRM/Drug Store News Buyers Choice Award winners, Santevia and the National Vitamin Company.)
During the TABS Analytics educational session, TABS Founder and CEO Dr. Kurt Jetta examined TABS’ historical data on the category to reveal trends and predict the course of the VMS category, both from a consumer and channel perspective.
“With ten years of VMS studies and data to draw from, VMS is showing all the characteristics of a mature category so 2018-2020 gains should moderate to the plus three to four percent range, assuming pricing of plus two percent,” said Jetta. “At this level, continued dramatic growth in ecommerce would, by definition, come at the expense of brick and mortar store sales although we have not seen that shift yet. With only one year of the recent ecommerce surge, however, continued dramatic growth in ecommerce is not assured.”
Among the key findings of the study were:
- Online sales are strong and growing. Online purchasing for VMS grew dramatically, increasing 20 percent over 2016, led by significant increases by brick-and-mortar retailers’ online sales, especially Walmart.com. Amazon and Walmart are the number one and number two online retailers for VMS with Amazon accounting for an estimated 4.5 percent and Walmart.com accounting for an estimated 1.6 percent of all market transactions in the category.
- VMS category shows signs of maturity. Over the past several years, growth has been modest, with the exception in the recent surge in ecommerce in past year. Mass market (food/drug/mass/club/dollar or FDMCD) sales growth doubled to four percent in 2017 due to pricing and volume growth. However, there have been no new types of VMS products that have exhibited sustained growth, and channel shifts have moderated overall.
- VMS volume and dollar sales grow. VMS category purchase penetration reached an all-time high of 78 percent for the TABS study. Following two years of relatively flat growth, VMS sales volume increased slightly as a result of greater purchasing by heavy buyers and higher penetration from those who purchased just one or two types of products regularly. Dollar sales for the category grew six percent to $13.5 billion.
- Heavy buying gains momentum. Heavy buying increases (consumers purchasing 3 or more types) were driven by: gains from very heavy buyers (6 or more types purchased), younger buyers (ages 18-54) and women.
- Adult multivitamin reverses declines, with niche products making first-time appearances. Adult multivitamins increased this past year, reversing a three-year decline. This year’s survey also includes two new categories -- hair/skin/nail multivitamins and brain supplements -- both which appear to be types with niche appeal with eight percent and two percent of adults purchasing these types, respectively.
- Vitamin outlet trends since 2005 track broader trends in retail. FDMCD penetration grew by 15 percent from 59 percent of adults to 68 percent of adults. Specialty outlets (such as natural food or nutritional specialty outlets) saw a slight decline in penetration from 19 percent to 18 percent and ecommerce penetration went from nine percent to 13 percent.
Rules and Regulations
In addition, the Council for Responsible Nutrition gave two lunchtime presentations. During the first presentation, Legal Counsel Rend Al-Mondhiry, provided a high level overview of what’s happening in the dietary supplement industry from a regulatory and oversight perspective with emphasis on key requirements that both retailers and manufacturers should be aware of and monitor. She also shared insights on upcoming changes to supplement and food labeling and other hot topics related to FDA and FTC (click here to download her presentation slides).
During the second presentation, CRN’s Gisele Atkinson addressed the importance of self-regulation for the dietary supplement industry to increase manufacturer and retailer accountability and transparency. She provided an update on some of the self-regulatory initiatives being undertaken by the dietary supplement industry, including the Supplement OWL, an industry-wide product label registry, focusing on the beneficial impact for regulators, retailers, industry and consumers. In addition, she’ll provided a snapshot on some of the other key self-regulatory initiatives, such as the Global Retailer and Manufacturer Alliance and the Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative. (Click here to download Giselle’s presentation slides).
A Bit of Inspiration and Perspiration
During one of the evening receptions, buyers and sellers were treated to a truly inspirational presentation by U.S. Army Veteran Major Anthony (A-Train) Smith. Representing The National Vitamin Company -- which supports Veteran Affairs Rehabilitation Events for veterans with disabilities to improve quality of life and foster better health through competition -- Major Smith discussed his story of coming back from near-death after being hit with a rocket-propelled grenade to help other wounded veterans live fulfilling lives (see video below).
Both mornings of the session provided retailers and suppliers with the opportunity to participate in wellness activities. SOS Hydration brought in its ambassador and Olympic finalist, Hassan Mead, for an interactive run clinic. This program, which SOS offers to its retailer customers such as Kroger and 7-Eleven, utilizes these athletes to educate consumers on proper running technique. After putting their training into action, they all hydrated with some of SOS Hydration’s new line of organic hydration products. (Click here for a video update on the program from James Mayo, Co-Founder of SOS Hydration.)
ECRM also held a yoga class in which attendees learned the basics and practiced various forms led by an instructor brought in by CytoSport/MuscleMilk, which offered its EVOLVE plant-based protein products to participants following the activity.