Health has become one of the top priorities for consumers over the past year, with vitamin, minerals and supplement (VMS) sales skyrocketing nearly 20% since the pandemic started, far ahead of the overall CPG market. Even with vaccines rolling out, a commitment to sticking to self-care regimens and disease prevention will still be prevalent.
Retailers have an opportunity to connect with consumers as they continue to take health matters into their own hands through a true omnichannel experience. Momentum is building for VMS, as sales topped $9 billion in brick-and-mortar and added another $10 billion in e-commerce in 2020 alone.
Make it easy for consumers to find what they’re looking for
Brands will need to pay attention to the e-commerce space, as online sales are nearly double 2019 levels for health products and up 46% for VMS. With VMS sold online, it widens the choice of products and makes it easier for consumers to pay for them on a subscription basis. Brands should also consider collaborating with retailers to promote these benefits to their e-commerce product pages.
It will be crucial for brands to identify the functional attributes that align with their brand or new product innovation. But, specifically, attributes that have to do with holistic health and well-being like stress, sleep and immunity, need to be amplified. Brands should use their package messaging or search language to promote claims and highlight nutrients and ingredients tied to well-being. IRI recently surveyed consumers, and 90% are certain that the anxieties surrounding COVID-19, whether financial or emotional stress, will continue for another 12 to 16 months. Consumers will continue to look for products that address these concerns, such as melatonin, which helps consumers sleep better. Melatonin delivered substantial growth in 2020, up 45%, showing consumers are turning to this segment to aid their sleep.
As retailers begin to administer vaccines, they should consider offering promotions on key vitamins and supplements. For example, IRI found that zinc sales increased 72%, while elderberry rose 237%. While single-letter vitamins like vitamin C increased sales by 67%. Vitamin D also rose substantially and is up 42%. Retailers should continue to promote the goodness of the VMS lineup, and supply and stock VMS that shoppers care about the most. Consumers will still turn toward these products as they await their first or second dose of the vaccine.
Who’s buying vitamins and supplements?
It’s important to note that Millennials and Gen Z have been slow to adopt a vitamin regimen. Both generations and previously resistant lower-income households appear committed to increasing their spending in this category. Keep in mind that consumers are not only trying to prevent COVID-19 but other common illnesses like the flu and allergies, which impacts the demand for immune-boosting products.
IRI projects the usage of VMS will continue to increase in 2021. In an IRI survey, consumers said that 86% of them buy VMS regularly, 17% say they’ll increase their usage, 11% will buy more products to support their immune system.
As retailers observe trends and focus their growth opportunities, they can help their shoppers who are seeking, or already seeing, the benefits of using these products as they fortify their lifestyles with them.
Larry Levin is executive vice president of Market and Shopper Intelligence for IRI and oversees the commercial sales strategy for IRI’s new consumer and shopper products. He can be contacted at Larry.Levin@IRIworldwide.com.