Death of the pill? To bulk of consumers, 'dietary supplement' means powder or beverage

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images/Egal
Getty Images/Egal
Consumers today associate the word ‘supplement’ with powders or beverages, more so than capsules, pills, tablets, and so forth, according to analyses of social media chatter by one marketing firm.

Millennials have transitioned into becoming the largest consumer age group with the strongest buying power—combined, the generation will spend $10 trillion throughout their lifetimes. This means their worldview likely dictates the new norm in dietary supplements.

“We analyzed about 1.6 million supplement conversations, and out of that, about 800,000 of those referenced powders, and only 80,000 of those referenced pills,”​ Sarah Flagg, senior account executive at Chicago-based marketing firm CBD Marketing​ told NutraIngredients-USA.

At the SupplySide West 2017 show in Las Vegas last week, Flagg presented the findings of her firm’s analyses​, which looked at online conversations of people aged 18 to 35 in the 12 months ending August 2017, on platforms ranging from major social media accounts, to the comments sections of Amazon, BuzzFeed, Medium, and Food 52.

Diet and weight loss are passé, pills evoke pharma

The thing with pills is that not only is there a pharmaceutical connotation to the format, but it also evokes memories of the ‘miracle weight loss pill’ peddlers of past decades. To Millennials, it’s not about weight loss or dieting anymore.

“In the late 1980s, early 90s, there was all this ‘fat-free’ and concern about weight, how much you weigh,” ​she said. “With Millennials it’s different, it’s more about how your feel, and how what you’re eating makes you feel.”

This mindset contributes to why today’s consumers think of powders and beverages more than pills when talking about supplements.

“There’s this overlap for Millennials between beverages and supplements,” ​she said. “I think it’s a combination of​—they just don’t want to take pills, and they find taking green superfood powders, protein powders, even like diuretic probiotic powders, a lot easier for them to handle.”

She added: “[Powders] are a lot less scary. If you put it in a smoothie, it’s not scary anymore, but taking a pill, there’s a negative connotation.”

CBD Marketing_Graph
Mentions of powder far outpace pills in online conversations of supplements (left) and protein is a popular phrase in such conversations (right). Source: CBD Marketing.

Bioavailability and time-release means there’s still room for pills

But it’s not necessarily the end of multivitamin pills. “People just have to get more creative and innovative about it,” ​Flagg said.

One way some companies are making pills less ‘scary’ and more exciting is with the personalized subscription model. Examples include Care/Of​ and Vitamin Packs​, which put single servings of supplements in little pouches personalized with the subscriber’s name.

Personalized-nutrition-startup-Vitamin-Packs-highlights-trillions-of-combination-possibilities_wrbm_large
Companies like Vitamin Packs are trying to make pills interesting with personalized packets and subscription models. Source: Vitamin Packs

“We’re a pill company, but we try to make them the smallest that we can, we try to make them interesting, and we try to make them bioavailable,” ​Jason Brown, Founder and CEO of Vitamin Packs, told NutraIngredients-USA at the SupplySide West 2017 show. His company won the multivitamin category of the SupplySide West CPG Editor's Choice Award 2017.

“If you’re 28 years old, and you’re in perfect health, and you’re just curious about nutrition, we’re not really important. But we’re important if you really want to optimize your health, or if you have any condition specific issues,” ​he said.

While pills may not be the favorite way to take a supplement, the issue is bioavailability and timed release, he added.

“If you take a powder, it may all release instantly inside of you, which may be good or bad. So we’re working right now on a time-released sleep capsule…to help people to have better rest, and it’s great that it’s time released—it helps you get a full night’s rest.”

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1 comment

The news of my death is greatly exaggerated

Posted by Tim Avila,

I don't think solid dose is going anywhere. I will gladly sell fatloss technology in a pill when and where necessary to everyone who is NOT a Millennial

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