Goal oriented

Consumers are looking for vitamin, mineral and supplement solutions that help them reach their weight and fitness goals.
Goli Nutrition introduced Beets Cardio Gummies to help support cardiovascular health.

Back in May, the World Health Organization declared the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. But that announcement had little impact on the self-care journey on which many consumers had begun during the height of the pandemic.

“Post-COVID, people are prioritizing their health and fitness more than ever,” noted Suleen Mak, vice president, brand and strategy for Iovate Health Sciences, Oakville, Ontario (which offers the Six Star Pro Nutrition, Hydroxycut and other brands). “They are also trying to capture their pre-pandemic bodies as some aspect of post-COVID normalcy starts to emerge.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that many of today’s consumers are looking for solutions to help them reach their health and wellness goals. That reality is that there are opportunities for drug stores offering vitamins, minerals and supplements to support sports nutrition and weight management.

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Going Beyond the Serious Athlete

The sports nutrition space is no longer reserved for Olympians and professional athletes. The category has expanded to embrace everyday consumers, Mak said. 

“This widening drives the demand for convenience and flavor without compromise, and this trend will fuel the growth of functional food and beverages for years to come,” she pointed out. 

Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based Piping Rock Health Products, noted that the category also is seeing an increase of sports enthusiasts. 

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“People are more focused and seeking greater control over their own unique supplement regimens, with a desire to be able to customize them on their own,” she said.

A noteworthy driver within the category, Mak noted, is the aging of the millennial generation. These consumers want holistic solutions that offer benefits tied to mental and physical performance, as well as anti-aging, vitality and more.

“Consumers are on the go and expect products to fit their needs and demands — products that are portable, shelf-stable and fast.”
— Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD and Dymatize Nutrition Consultant
New from Six Star Pro Nutrition, in partnership with Kellogg’s, is 100% Whey Protein Plus inspired by Kellogg’s First Flakes and Froot Loops cereals.

The sports nutrition category certainly is in tune with these trends. Today’s assortment includes products that support strength and vitality, low-/no-caffeine supplements that promote focus and concentration and electrolyte hydration solutions, said Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD and Dymatize Nutrition Consultant.

On the hydration side, El Segundo, Calif.-based Liquid I.V. recently launched Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Sugar-Free. According to Marc Adler, director of sales, drug, the non-GMO product features a proprietary amino acid/allulose blend that hydrates more effectively than water alone. It has no sugar and no artificial sweeteners and comes in lemon lime, white peach and green grape flavors. 

“One serving stick has three times the electrolytes of the leading sports drink with eight vitamins and nutrients for faster hydration,” Adler explained. 

A kids’ line also is available, he noted, with 50% less sugar than other sports drinks. It comes in Tropical Punch, Grape, Cotton Candy and Apple varieties for ages 12 months and up. And Piping Rock’s Nature’s Truth brand recently introduced a family of Electrolyte Hydration† supplements in formats that include gummies, chewables and easy-to-mix powders with a “clean and refreshing flavor,” Vigliante said. Unflavored Electrolyte Hydration† tablets are available, too, for those who prefer the ease of swallowing a tablet.

These types of products, as well as ready-to-drink options, mesh with consumer demand for non-lifestyle-disrupting products in today’s fast-paced environment, Spano noted. “Consumers are on the go and expect products to fit their needs and demands—products that are portable, shelf-stable and fast,” she said.

Within the convenient gummy space, West Hollywood, Calif.-based Goli Nutrition recently debuted Beets Cardio Gummies. Made with CoQ10 to help support cardiovascular health—certainly in line with sports nutrition goals—they also contain Vitamin B12 to support heart-healthy cellular energy and beet root extract, one of nature's superfoods. 

Michael Vercelletto, chief marketing officer, calls the gummies, along with the newly launched Goli 3-in-1 Pre+Post+Probiotics gummies, “the biggest successes” for the company since its 2021 Goli Ashwa (Ashwaghanda) gummies introduction.

Vigliante noted that sports enthusiasts really are embracing beetroot supplements.

“The superfood naturally rich in antioxidants is outpacing the vitamin category by 20 times and the herbal supplement segment by more than 10 times,” she said.  

Despite the popularity of gummies and other convenient formats, consumers still value options, noted Ambi Kanthasamy, associate director for Six Star Pro Nutrition, New York. 

“At Six Star, we recognize the importance of catering to diverse preferences,” he said. “That’s why we offer a wide range of formats, including capsules, tablets, powders and, eventually, ready-to-drink options. By providing such variety, we empower individuals to choose the format that best aligns with their personal preferences and lifestyle.”

High-quality ingredients are critical, too. On the protein front, Spano noted that the Dymatize ISO100 whey protein isolate fits the bill here, helping to drive performance and post-performance muscle recovery. It is available in several flavors.

Six Star’s sports nutrition offerings, meanwhile, contain proven ingredients and are backed by scientific research, Kanthasamy pointed out. “This commitment to efficacy gives our consumers confidence that they are making progress toward their health, fitness and athletic goals,” he said. 

One of the brand’s most recent innovations is its Pre-Workout Explosion 2.0, Kanthasamy added. Designed to help consumers take their workouts “to the next level,” the pre-workout formula boasts energy-, focus- and endurance-boosting ingredients, including beta-alanine (3.2 grams), caffeine (320 milligrams), L-Citrulline (3 grams) and electrolytes (1,812 milligrams) per two scoops. 

Also new from Six Star, in partnership with Kellogg’s, is 100% Whey Protein Plus inspired by the cereal brand’s First Flakes and Froot Loops cereals. “It’s a delightful fusion of nutritious whey protein and the nostalgic taste of your favorite breakfast cereals,” Kanthasamy explained.

“The fact that key weight-loss drugs have become water cooler conversation has helped the entire category, as the topic is weaving its way into the fabric of everyday life and not hidden behind a veil of self-doubt beyond closed doors.” — Suleen Mak, vice president, brand and strategy, Iovate Health Sciences
— Suleen Mak, vice president, brand and strategy, Iovate Health Sciences
Nature’s Bounty recently unveiled its Metabolism Booster supplement. It features a clinically studied blend of citrus extracts to boost fat metabolism and reduce waist circumference, as well as black ginger extract to promote abdominal fat loss.

Functional Ingredients Gain Traction

Despite the high interest in fitness and sports nutrition, more than 70% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, noted Jonathan Clinthorne, Ph.D., director of nutrition for Denver-based Simply Good Foods Co., which owns the Atkins and Quest brands. It makes sense, therefore, that many consumers are seeking out weight management solutions.

Post-COVID, people are also attending more events, engaging in more travel and even celebrating the return of the “wedding season” concept, Mak added. So many of them have even more reasons to commit to weight loss/weight management programs than they did a couple of years ago.

“The fact that key weight-loss drugs have become water cooler conversation has helped the entire category,” she pointed out, “as the topic is weaving its way into the fabric of everyday life and not hidden behind a veil of self-doubt beyond closed doors.”

As they do within the sports nutrition space, consumers want weight management solutions that fit their busy lifestyle, driving growth in formats such as on-the-go drink sachets, daily wellness drinks and meal replacements, Mak noted. And, of course, they want these solutions and others to be science-backed.

Convenient functional beverages have been of particular consumer interest, Clinthorne pointed out. The trend is evident with the growth of energy drinks, especially those offering functional ingredients for a metabolism boost.

“These functional ingredients include things like caffeine, polyphenols from green tea and other vitamins or minerals associated with metabolism,” he explained. 

Speaking of metabolism boosters, Nature's Bounty, a brand of Bridgewater, N.J.-based Nestlé Health Science, recently unveiled its Metabolism Booster supplement. Featuring a clinically studied blend of citrus extracts, it is said to boost fat metabolism and reduce waist circumference. Black ginger extract, meanwhile, helps promote abdominal fat loss and support a healthy metabolism.

On-trend flavors boast appeal, too. Iovate’s Hydroxycut brand flavored up the category this past August with the introduction of mocktail-flavored nootropic Ultra Shred Drink Sticks for energy and weight loss. Available in tangerine mimosa and lime mojito flavors, they are part of the new Hydroxycut Hardcore lineup and are designed “to meet the growing needs of younger consumers who want alternatives to alcoholic beverages,” Mak said.

Ultra Shred Drink Sticks, in mocktail-inspired flavors, are part of the new Hydroxycut Hardcore weight loss supplement lineup.

Simply Good Foods also is seeing protein as a “big driver” within the weight management space, Clinthorne added. Driving interest here is increasing recognition that weight loss without adequate dietary protein leads to increased loss of muscle mass, as well as a higher risk for weight regain.

To help weight-conscious consumers on the protein front, Simply Good Foods just launched the Atkins Creamy Root Beer Float with 15 g of protein, 5 g of fiber and only 1 g of sugar, he noted.

Think Beyond the Right Product Mix

Armed with the right selection of vitamins, minerals and supplements, drug stores will be well-positioned to meet consumers’ sports nutrition and weight management needs. To get the most out of growth opportunities here, however, they will need to position those solutions “in modern and approachable ways” on the social and digital platforms where consumers—particularly the growth-driving millennial and Gen X consumers—spend the most time, Mak said.

Drug stores also should understand that supplement taste and flavor have become more important to consumers and factor that reality into their product assortment. 

“They want products that are not only effective, but also enjoyable to consume,” Kanthasamy stressed. 

Ensuring efficacy across the assortment is critical, too. Products that don’t deliver could hurt category sales overall, Spano suggested.

“When consumers try something that does not work, they may be reluctant to try a similar-looking yet better-quality product,” she noted. On the weight management side, drug stores also should pay attention to the recent influx of effective new pharmaceuticals within the space, Clinthorne advised.

“Currently, it’s unclear as to whether these drugs will impact the [over-the-counter] weight loss and nutrition category, but it will be important to watch how this develops,” he said.

    Beware of Product Claims

    The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission share jurisdiction over the marketing of dietary supplements. Although it’s up to the supplement companies to ensure adherence to FDA/FTC regulations, drug stores selling such products could be negatively impacted, sales-wise, by “bad actors” targeted by the agencies. 

    Drug Stores should be wary, therefore, of any products making bold claims for health issues not typically solved by dietary supplements, noted Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD and Dymatize Nutrition Consultant

    “There are three common types of claims you may see on dietary supplements: structure/function claims, general well-being claims and classic nutrient claims,” she pointed out. “Anything outside of these claims should be a red flag.”

    To learn more about allowable claims, visit the link here.