‘Developing future consumers,’ The Vitamin Shoppe rolls out to college campuses nationwide

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: GettyImages / Klaus Vedfelt
Photo Credit: GettyImages / Klaus Vedfelt

Related tags the vitamin shoppe Sports nutrition Protein

Sleep-deprived, stressed, and under pressure to perform academically while balancing their newfound freedom, college students are a burgeoning yet underserved market for health and nutrition products, says The Vitamin Shoppe CEO Sharon Leite.

To tap into this audience, The Vitamin Shoppe is rolling out several of its own product lines – The Vitamin Shoppe, BodyTech, BodyTech Elite, plnt, and TrueYou – to college campus bookstores and corresponding e-commerce sites across the US through a partnership with campus bookstore operator Follett Higher Education. 

Students shopping at a participating Follett campus bookstore will find everything from sports nutrition products to vitamins and supplements that support sleep, mood, and brain health, said Leite.

“Attracting younger consumers to our brand is essential in developing future customers who are engaged with The Vitamin Shoppe as well as their own health and wellness needs,​ Leite told NutraIngredients-USA. 

“This partnership is a chance for The Vitamin Shoppe to learn about this key demographic and expand our portfolio of proprietary products.” 

Increased interest in proteins, creatine, collagen, and clean beauty 

The partnership will allow The Vitamin Shoppe to reach thousands of college-age consumers who are becoming an increasingly important demographic for the omnichannel specialty nutrition retailer.  

“Generally, The Vitamin Shoppe’s core customers tend to skew older than college age,”​ said Leite.  

“However, younger customers are increasingly aware of health and wellness issues and thus turning to supplements, sports nutrition, and beauty-from-within categories to support them during their important and transformational college years,” ​said Leite noting how TikTok and other social media platforms​ have helped fuel interest and growth in health and wellness among younger consumers. 

“We are seeing greater interest in wellness solutions like proteins, creatine, collagen, clean beauty, and plant-based nutrition in younger demographics, which is driving sales increases in these categories,”​ noted Leite.  


According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC)’s 2022 Food and Health Survey, ​Gen Z consumers (those between 18- and 24-years-old) are seeking out products that support energy (38%), sleep (35%), emotional or mental health (33%), and digestive or gut health (29%). 

At the same time, Gen Z is reporting high levels of stress with 73% of those surveyed report feeling “very”​ or “somewhat”​ stressed in the past year, according to IFIC. 

Leite added that following a healthy diet while getting proper exercise and adequate sleep can be an overwhelming task for many college students and as a result, nutrition can take a back seat. 

“We know how challenging that can be for students at times, so for those who may struggle with consistency we are offering supplements that can be beneficial, including: multivitamins for overall health and performance, omega 3’s for healthy brain function, probiotics for a healthy gut, greens drinks for students who may fall short of their recommended daily greens intake, and proteins to help keep your body strong and appetite satisfied, which can make you less likely to reach for junk food.” 

Sports nutrition category on fire 

Among all the categories, Leite highlighted the rise of sports nutrition products as a key area of focus for the company. 

“We continually focus on innovation in key categories driving consumer demand, such as the sports nutrition category, which last year had its best year since 2016 at The Vitamin Shoppe,”​ said Leite.  

“We have seen a clear acceleration in many sports nutrition categories as customers of all ages refocus on their fitness, following the pandemic.”  

Future growth plans 

The Vitamin Shoppe is launching in a select group of college and university bookstores where its products will be available in dedicated, branded displays intended to create a one-stop shop for students. 

Initial campuses include Babson College, Boston College, Bowie State University, Georgia State, Indiana University at Bloomington, Pepperdine University, Smith College, Stanford University, Tennessee State at Nashville, The Citadel, University of Florida at Gainesville, University of Texas at Dallas, and others.

The partnership will then expand to additional locations and product assortments, such as on-the-go energy drinks and protein bars, added Leite. 

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