Once sold exclusively in specialty stores, vitamins and other supplements are now mainstream products offered by large retailers. But in at least one respect, makers of supplements haven’t adjusted their marketing strategies to suit the mass consumer audience. Brands focus too much on highlighting product benefits and not enough on price.
A Shift in the Vitamins & Supplements Consumer
High-performance athletes and bodybuilders are often the target audience for supplements but only account for about 5% of total sports nutrition category sales, according to Natural Products Insider. Today, people of all ages and levels of physical activity turn to vitamins and supplements as a way of managing health conditions, achieving a balanced diet, and boosting overall health.
Although product benefits, like weight loss and pain relief, are an integral part of the consumer’s purchase decision, affordability is also a key factor many consumers consider when deciding on a product. Mentions of affordability in consumer discussion about vitamins and supplements have grown by 55% year over year.
Consumer Discussion Surrounding Affordability, September 2017 – August 2019
The affordability theme now appears in more than 12% of all consumer discussions, making it the second-most discussed product benefit after pain relief. Consumer discussion surrounding affordability surpasses other key areas of consumer interest, such as diet & weight, alertness and concentration, and energy.
To date, the big supplements brands have largely ignored this growing trend. Fewer than 5% of the products on the market mention affordability, whereas more than 20% mention antioxidants or concentration.
Consumer Discussion vs. In-Market Products, September 2017 – August 2019
The Clear Brand Leader in Affordability
A sizable number of in-market products addressing consumer demand for affordability come from a single brand, Sundance Vitamins. Sundance is the clear brand leader in affordability with 322 products, making up over 7% of products claiming that consumer need. This is more than double the percentage of products of the next leading brand, Protocol for Life Balance. Much of Sundance’s brand identity is built around affordability, with the company mission of creating “high quality nutritional supplements that are affordable for every family” (source).
Leading Brands Claiming Affordability, August 2017 – July 2019
A Powerful Purchase Driver
The best-selling vitamins and minerals include vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. With these supplements, there aren’t too many ways in which brands can stand out from competitors. Some makers of vitamin C capsules add rose hips or other natural sources of vitamin C to their products. But no matter how you dress it up, many consumers view a 500mg capsule of vitamin C as just a capsule containing 500mg of vitamin C.
Almost all the products carry mention of the fact that vitamin C supports the immune system, contains antioxidants, and neutralizes harmful free radicals. Some brands emphasize that their products are free of preservatives, wheat, milk, or certain other ingredients. Affordability is not a benefit that is clearly emphasized, even though price may be the single largest differentiating factor for consumers.
Affordability Is Also A Benefit
To the extent that buyers of supplements still discuss product quality, it’s mostly to say that there is not much difference between one product and another. Price, on the other hand, is something consumers are talking about and that brands can compete on. If your supplements brand has the cheapest – or close to the cheapest – products in its categories, highlighting affordability could be a quick and cost-effective way of attracting new customers.
Written by Uri Goldberg,
Director of Insights at Signals Analytics
Uri Goldberg is a management expert, specializing in serving governments and corporations on strategy, innovations and economic development issues. He worked with McKinsey & Co. where he directed key consulting projects for Fortune 500 companies, as well as governments in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He also served as Foreign Policy Aid in the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres in his former capacity as Vice Prime Minister.
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