It’s especially the case among younger men—in Packaged Facts’ 2016 National Consumer Survey, 75% of men aged 18-34 agree that they sometimes take into account such endorsements, compared to only 33% of women in the age group.
This tidbit from the extensive survey, published in Packaged Facts’ Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., 7th Edition is particularly important to marketers advertising supplements to women, which IRI data revealed was “shaping sales in 2015 and 2016.”
According to the research firm, its important “to understand the differences required when marketing specifically to women for supplements through the correct use of celebrity and public figure endorsements, particularly since women also do not want to feel as though those same celebrities sway their opinions.”
This report covered supplements used for nutritional purposes, including vitamins, minerals, herbals, homeopathics, and combination products. It excluded sports supplements, weight-loss supplements and caffeine-based “fast” energy shots; supplements sold as fresh cooking ingredients (e.g., fresh garlic); supplements sold at the institutional or practitioner/professional healthcare level; and those sold via multi-level marketing (MLM).
Trends across ethnic groups
When demographics are broken down by ethnic group, the survey revealed that celebrity endorsements resonated well to Hispanic population.
“Non-White women are more willing than White women to agree they take into account endorsements from public figures and are much less willing to disagree,” the report said. “These trends occur with men as well, but with a much less pronounced effect.”
According to Packaged Facts, this trend “partially explains why very famous figures such as Dr Oz create massive shifts in supplement sales virtually overnight after talking about a specific type of supplement.”
Considering women make up 80% of the audience for Dr Oz's show, and typically older women at that (the exact same demographic that is adamant it is not influenced by celebrities), the age and ethnic diversity of his audience likely plays a role in his success as a supplement spokesman.
Sales: A retrospective look
The dietary supplement industry’s sales growth has remained steady since 2012, the report said, “climbing around 5.5% each year over the last four years.” It brought the industry up to $13.6 bn in 2015, according to Packaged Facts.
Strong performers in the industry include mineral supplements, while multivitamin sales have stagnated. Still, the report said that “it is clear nutritional supplements remain a consistent growth area within the wider food and beverage industry and for consumer packaged goods in general,” the report said.
Sales data came from an analysis of mass-market data compiled by IRI’s InfoScan service through U.S. supermarkets, drugstores, mass merchandisers, Sam’s Club and BJ’s warehouse clubs, dollar stores, and military commissaries, in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2016.
Forecast into the future
Data suggests the industry is poised for continued growth. There was stronger sales growth this year because of “less negative press appearing in news and scientific journals surrounding supplements,” the report said.
Packaged Facts forecasts that over the next five years, a greater focus on digestive health and women’s supplements will drive the nutritional supplements market, while marketers should also start gearing up to target Hispanic consumers. The research firm estimates nutritional supplement sales will hit $18.3 bn by 2020.