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Emergence of gummies: Q&A with Pharmavite's Tim Toll


The vitamins and dietary supplement category continues to perform well in retail pharmacy and represents a good companion category for those operators seeking to help their patients live healthier and achieve better outcomes. Before NACDS Total Store Expo, Drug Store News sat down with Tim Toll, chief customer officer at Pharmavite, to get a better understanding on how retailers can better activate this business in their stores.

(To view the full OTC Category Review, click here.)

DSN: What are the key drivers behind VMS consumption today?

Tim Toll: Overall in United States [extended all outlet combined], VMS category consumption is growing at less than 1%, but retail dollar sales have grown at a rate of 4%, with the retail dollar sales growth being driven by a 3% increase in the average retail price per unit purchased.

A large growth area for the category has been the emergence of sensory delivery forms, primarily the gummies delivery form. Gummies represent a rate of growth of 16% and $68 million in absolute growth dollars, and now represent almost 40% of total VMS category growth in the latest 26 weeks. This is a trend that we expect the trajectory to continue upward as consumers search for a more sensory-satisfying VMS consumption experience.

Need states that we see resonating strongly with consumers in the market place and that are driving significant growth for the VMS category are digestive, general health, sleep and memory/cognition. Those four need states combined now represent 73% of the total VMS category retail dollar sales growth.

While the VMS category is highly complex with an extremely large number of product ingredient segments, we are seeing that the growth in the category is highly consolidated, with the 10 top growth segments representing 83% of the total category growth dollars. The Top 10 growth sectors making the largest growth contributions are: probiotics, melatonin, gender neutral non-senior and women’s non-senior multivitamins, turmeric, vitamin D, hair/skin/nail multi, vitamin B-12, cranberry extract and Co Q-10.

DSN: Where are the pockets of opportunity for retail pharmacy within VMS?

Toll: We know from our consumer research that on average, the buyers of the VMS category spend more on prescriptions annually than the average prescription buyer does (up 5% or $15 more per year). So, we are keenly aware of the strong health and wellness affinity that exists between pharmacy and the VMS category. Additionally, we know that there is a synergistic relationship between VMS and prescription medications that exists in the form of a prescription drug — the nutrient depletion relationship. ... There are six primary classes of medication that may cause depletion of nutrients in the human body: statins, antacids, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, antibiotics [and] oral hypoglycemic. ...

The big challenge for manufacturers and retailers is being able to develop an educational platform that helps to educate not only the consumers but also the pharmacists. At Pharmavite, we have and continue to prioritize healthcare professional advocacy and education, with the retail pharmacist being an important stakeholder. And drug nutrient interactions and depletions are key topics for this education outreach.

DSN: With the healthcare industry moving toward more value-based services, what role does VMS play?

Toll: With prevention at the forefront of the healthcare industry evolution, VMS plays an important role. Also, with the rise of retail clinics and their impact on how care is delivered, the role of the pharmacist and nurse practitioner are key to this new value-based service at retail. Again, we believe that supporting nutrition and VMS education for retail pharmacists and nurse practitioners is an important role Pharmavite [is playing] in helping them adapt to these changing needs.

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