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More shelf space linked to higher VMS sales


Three supplement categories that are really helping to drive the business today are:

  • Probiotics: Ingredient sales of $508.7 million, up 14.5%, for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 28 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI;

  • Melatonin (sleep): $167.4 million, up 20.4%, for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 28; and

  • Prevention (immunity support): Branded sales of Reckitt Benckiser’s Airborne are up $123.8 million, up 20.4% for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 5; and Pfizer’s Emergen-C had $116.1 million in sales, up 14.2%, in that same period.

(Click here to view the full Category Review.)

“[VMS] has always been a category that responds to the way retailers react to [growth opportunities],” said Kurt Jetta, CEO TABS Group. “It’s what we call high space elasticity, meaning if retailers add more [space] their sales will go up in an almost linear fashion. So a 5% increase in SKU count [equates to] a 5% increase in sales.”

That premise is holding true across several VMS categories, including probiotics. “Probiotics just keeps motoring along in the 20% range, [according to TABS Group data],” Jetta said. “And that’s an exact linear relationship — 21% increase in SKU count, 22% increase in sales.”

Probiotics are being promoted right now by Bayer and its Tru-biotic commercial campaign featuring television personality Erin Andrews. The focus is on linking digestive health with immunity health. And Procter & Gamble recently launched MetaBiotic, which touts immunity health. The brand ties in with its MetaMucil fiber supplement. In some retailers, they’ve built a horizontal brand block with MetaBiotic toward the top and MetaMucil below.

Many consumers who are looking for sleep aids move toward natural. And with the uptick in fitness trackers, which monitor sleep patterns, you have to wonder how much awareness is being raised around how people aren’t getting the optimal sleep they need. Jetta noted that growth across sleep is not driven by SKU proliferation necessarily, but rather an increase in demand. “The velocity is up 13%, that means [sleep] is getting more users, more trial and also probably more repeat [purchases]. Those are really strong numbers,” he said.

Both Reckitt Benckiser and Pfizer have been investing in the prevention/immunity health space for consumers looking to support their immunity systems in time for the cough-cold and flu season. Reckitt Benckiser last year extended its Airborne line with Airborne Everyday, an immune support supplement plus a multivitamin. And Pfizer recently introduced four new flavors to its Emergen-C Immune+ dietary supplement.

Alternative delivery forms also continue to trend. “The alternative sensory delivery forms are growing at [a] plus-10% rate of growth and represent [more than] $64 million in growth [for the] latest 26 week period ended Nov. 15,” said Tim Toll, Pharmavite chief customer officer. “By far, the largest source of growth for the category is the gummy delivery form growth at a plus-20% rate of growth and contributing $58.5 million in absolute dollar growth for the category.”

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