Consumers want supplements for ailments, NMI

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

The use of condition-specific supplements is outpacing other
supplements and consumers indicate interest in non-traditional
supplement formats, according to market analyst Natural Marketing
Institute (NMI).

With a compound growth rate of 17 percent over the past five years, the most popular condition-specific supplements are those for joint, heart and osteoporosis or bone health, said the firm in its 2005 Health & Wellness Trends Database. At the root is a lack of consumer knowledge as to what supplements can be used for what condition, as they look for labels that spell out therapeutic benefits.

These findings reveal growth opportunities for companies who market according to ailments or have FDA approved health claims, as well as for companies willing to innovate with new formats for delivering supplements.

"Savvy manufacturers will therefore seek to explore new supplement formats and provide the clinical science to back up claims in order to sustain the momentum of condition-specific supplements in the marketplace,"​ said managing partner at NMI, Steve French.

Pennsylvania-based NMI told it conducted an online study using a "leading research partner"​ with over 8 million panel members. The survey was drawn from a total of 2,800 general population respondents.

If results show true, health claims and clinical documentation drive profits. NMI found 68 percent of respondents require some kind of "proof"​ a product works - therefore as innovation grows so should sales.

"Based on most recent data, this desire for clinical studies shows a remarkable increase and reverses a 5-year downward trend,"​ said French. The downward trend had reflected consumers' desire for clinical studies, NMI director of marketing Nancy White told

But as advertising tactics change and trends become more condition-specific, competition within categories is likely to increase.

"Consumers are, at times, overwhelmed about the plethora of supplements in the marketplace and unaware about the connection of real health benefits to many products,"​ said French. But for the supplement industry, there are still new consumers to be enticed into the fold if the industry can innovate.

Consumers, especially the aging population, are frustrated with the amount of pills they have to swallow and are open to trying new supplement formats such as chewables, chewing gum, quick-dissolve strips and oral sprays, according to NMI research.

"These new formats can bring new users into the category, drive consumer trial of new products, and even increase compliance rates among current users --- a significant issue to address,"​ said French.

According to NMI, the condition-specific trend also applies to other consumer packaged goods such as foods, beverages, and personal care products.

The survey was drawn from a random sample of panel members balanced to the US Census data. Total respondents were also post-weighted to the U.S. Census data. The sample size provides nationally projectable data with a sample error of +/- 2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

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