Supplementing the bottom line

Supplements are providing the perfect complement to drug store retailers’ bottom lines. Including meal replacement bars, energy shots, protein shakes and diet aids, sales of dietary supplements and nutrition-packed products across the supplement aisle continued to grow at a healthy 4.7% clip with more than $13.4 billion in sales across total U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended April 16, according to the latest IRI data.

This consistent growth across the wellness aisles within retail pharmacy can be traced to two factors: the growing proclivity Americans have toward better nutrition and what is being called the “absence of negative,” where nutrition and supplement labels boast a greater degree of transparency and fewer ingredients that carry a negative connotation. In short, Americans want to be healthier, and they want healthier-for-you products in the self-care aisles to get them there.

“Self care is pervasive and it’s growing,” Amruta Gupta, VP consumer and shopper marketing at IRI, told Drug Store News. “Self care is the ‘new normal,’” and goes well beyond supplements to incorporate an entire healthier lifestyle. “The biggest implication there is the blurring of category lines.”

Indeed, consumers are looking for solution sets across several need states, noted Tim Toll, Pharmavite chief customer officer. Supplements positioned as immunity boosters alone represent 36% of the category growth dollars. “Pharmavite’s research has shown that the type of product (e.g., fish oil) and health benefit/need state (e.g., heart health) are the two primary attributes that consumers focus their search on,” Toll said.

In the following pages, better nutrition and the “absence of negative” is a recurring theme. For example, the Council for Responsible Nutrition in the past month launched a new online registration portal, the Supplement OWL, where manufacturers can post product labels in a move toward transparency.

DSN also explores what’s happening across the supplement space, including SPINS insight on which natural health categories in the specialty retail channel may become hot in mass outlets. Check out the extended online report for a look at the latest thinking in supplement retailing with a review of The Vitamin Shoppe’s latest store format, and an examination of two trending categories — protein and probiotics.

(Click here to view the full Special Report: Weight management, sports nutrition and vitamin)