The survey had several key takeaways, including the need for more consumer education on heart health ingredients, the desire for specific benefits such as mental health, and regional differences among supplement consumers.
The Glanbia Nutritionals’ 2019 Global Dietary Supplement Survey collected representative samples from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.
Consumer survey profile
The survey participants consisted of an equal representation of men and women who reported taking supplements on a daily basis or near-daily basis. Across all regions, 75% reported to be in somewhat good or average health, were 18 to 70 years of age, with just over half holding a college degree.
General health a key driver of supplement purchases
While general health was the top category across all regions, the survey underscored regional variances. For instance, 55% of US consumers listed general health as a top driver, followed by heart health at 37% and healthy aging at 32%. In China, general health and sleep support tied at 26%,
with heart health coming in at 27%. In the UK 48% of respondents listed general health as most important, followed by joint health at 33% and mental health at 29%.
The report noted certain considerations, such as China’s ‘work hard’ mentality over the last few decades, which may have pushed consumers there to seek sleep support.
Another regional observation is the demand for joint health in the UK. The report points out that UK consumers may have better awareness in the joint health department, which presents an opportunity for increased education in other regions.
When all three regions are combined, general health still reigns supreme at 43%, followed by heart health at 31% and healthy aging at 25%.
Mental health came close to making it into the top three, in fourth place at 24%.
The age factor
Age played a major role in interest of specific health benefits. Consumers 18 to 34 years old across all regions were more drawn to supplements that support mental health, brain/cognitive health, and sleep support.
For this younger demographic, mental health was a top priority in the US and UK, perhaps not a surprise in the age
of ‘self-care.’ China deviated, with digestive health ranking first and mental health fifth.
Interests in healthy aging and heart health benefits increased for the 35 to 54-year-old crowd in the US and UK, while bone health, digestive health, and eye health piqued the interest of Chinese consumers in the 35 to 54 age bracket.
The 55 to 70 age group found healthy aging and sleep support appealing in all regions. Consumers in the US and UK also showed an interest in brain/cognitive health and mental health, while China reported interest in learning more about heart health, bone health, and general health.
Worldwide vitamin C, vitamin D, and calcium ranked as the most commonly used. The report notes a confounding finding in consumer behavior, pointing out that vitamin D and calcium promote healthy bones, yet healthy bones was not a health benefit that made it into the top three
This could mean a gap in consumer awareness, or it could imply that consumers consider these ingredients as part of their general health since they are commonly found in multivitamins.
High interest, low awareness
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), vitamin K2, choline, and biotin had the lowest consumer awareness but a high level of consumer interest.
Despite supplement consumers reporting a high interest in heart health, their awareness of important heart health ingredients CoQ10 and vitamin K2 was relatively low.
High awareness, low usage
Another baffling finding was that 54% consumers said they were aware of the benefits of ingredients like curcumin or turmeric, but only 14% are regular consumers.
The survey also found that 57% percent of supplement consumers are aware of collagen, but only 13% took it regularly.
When it comes to marketing, the Glanbia report highlights the importance of being aware of the target audience, especially with respect to age and region. The survey also suggests supplement manufacturers use their marketing efforts to highlight research and benefits, which could help close the gaps in consumers’ awareness and understanding of healthy ingredients.