The health and wellness industry is flourishing right now, particularly when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
In fact, Mintel reports that the VMS industry in Britain alone is currently worth a staggering £500m, expected to increase another £59m within the next four years. Grand View Research also reports that the global nutritional supplements market was valued at a mind-blowing $310.4bn in 2020, and until at least 2028, it is expected to grow annually by an impressive 6.2%.
It is such big business that FMCG goliaths have been buying into the market. The world's largest food and beverage company, Nestlé, recently increased its presence in the health and wellness sector with a £4.14bn acquisition of The Bountiful Company, a US business. It plans to integrate its purchase into its core brands to ultimately become a global leader in vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
Nestlé’s acquisition came just a few days after Unilever purchased Onnit, another US supplement and nutrition brand (for an undisclosed sum). Unilever has already vocalised that it has an ongoing mission to expand its presence in health and wellness. In purchasing Onnit it now has a portfolio that includes New Mood (for relaxation and stress support) and Alpha Brain (for memory and focus).
Undoubtedly, since the outbreak of Covid-19, consumers have been more worried about their health and wellbeing and have been looking for preventative measures to help maintain the function of their immune systems.
This includes taking vitamins, minerals, and supplements with shelves in supermarkets literally stripped bare. In the first weeks of the pandemic, an unprecedented tendency from consumers to stockpile products led to limited supplies of vitamins, minerals, and supplements, with shelves in supermarkets literally stripped bare. Since then, consumers have continued to view utilising the products as a vital part of their daily routines. Interestingly, Kantar reports that in the UK, growth in the sector is being driven by almost 2.8m more health-aware consumers purchasing into the category.
So which vitamins have proven to be the most popular in the UK since the outbreak of Covid-19, and why?
1. VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is the fastest-growing product sector in percentage terms with an extra 3.8m packs being sold (Kantar reports it is up by 103% to £27.7m on volumes, an increase of 79.4%!). No doubt early headlines which publicised Vitamin D as efficacious as a natural defence against Covid-19 was instrumental to this dramatic increase in sales.
2. ADULT MULTIVITAMINS
Arguably the biggest winner in the VMS category (in absolute terms) are adult multivitamins. They have massively dominated sales and are now worth £160.2m in the UK, increasing in sales by £36.4m and attracting 2.3m more shoppers since the pandemic began. As multivitamins offer an “all-in-one” solution, the simplest option for consumers to obtain a huge array of different nutrients within a single tablet, the multivitamin trend is expected to continue as more consumers focus on their health and wellbeing. However in nutritional terms many consider them to be a “jack of all trades”, trying to cover off everything without addressing specific personal needs.
3. 50+ MULTIVITAMINS
Multivitamins specifically targeted at consumers aged 50 and over have also experienced a sales boost of £7.2m as many of those within the ‘Gen-X’ and ‘BabyBoomer’ demographics look to improve their immune defences and general wellbeing. For example, the brand Centrum (the world’s No.1 multivitamin brand),offers a range of 50+-focused multivitamin supplements which have tailored formulas for this demographic’s specific needs, including products Centrum Advance 50+,Centrum Men 50+ and Centrum Women 50+. Wellwoman and Wellman by Vitabiotics also do 70+ ranges.
4. CHILDREN MULTIVITAMINS
More parents and caregivers have also been looking to protect youngsters against illness as children’s multivitamins in recent months. The children’s multivitamin category has experienced a £20.5m increase in sales. The government recommends all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D, every day. There are now a plethora of children’s multivitamin products on the market, including Natures Aid multivitamin orange mini drops, Vitabiotics Wellbaby and HalibOrange Kids Strawberry Softies.
So what is the future looking like for the VMS category?
Personalised and specific supplementation will be a key driver. Since the pandemic began, British consumers have increased their awareness of the importance of vitamins, minerals, and supplements, whether this is through expert advice or the media. The chemist Boots already offers an online question-based service, which I myself took. The efficient service only takes around 5 minutes to complete and provided me with a list of Boots-branded products tailored to my specific needs. Brands Vitl, Get Nourished, Vitamin Buddy, and Everly Wellness are among the brands that offer consumers personalised packs of nutritional supplements. Personal nutritionalists may be tomorrow’s personal trainers, helping to guide and adjust supplement needs independently, without brand or retailer influence.
The main psychological impact to date of Covid-19, are elevated rates of stress and anxiety. Levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are expected to rise, so supplements that support good mental health are expected to increase in popularity as Britons look to recover from over a year of disrupted lives. This will include sales of supplements specifically marketed at helping to improve sleep and mood, such as BrianSmart’s ‘Mood’, Monkey Nutrition’s ‘Moodulator’, and Glow + Habit’s ‘SleepWell'.
As a result of many consumers gaining a few pounds during lockdown and the Government pushing its anti-obesity drive, more people are turning to weight loss supplements to give them an extra boost in the right direction. No product can melt fat off the body, but some can help make a noticeable improvement in weight loss and body fat percentage. Depending on the product, they can help give people more energy, help to burn calories, and help to curb hunger pangs. Other dietary aids such as Symprove promise to help the gut microbiome and support digestion as well as immune health (however this certainly won’t be an option for many with a 12-week pack costing £158). A huge number of consumers have also been turning to meal-replacement protein supplementation via powdered products like MyProtein and Huel. However, over the following months, we foresee a rise in pill or capsule protein products, as consumers look to an even more convenient (and potentially palatable way (as they have no taste or smell!) of helping to boost their protein intake.
Vitamins, minerals, and supplements with “science-backed” complexes will gain positive momentum. The truth is that although they may be “clinically researched” or claim to be “scientifically proven”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product had any evident effect. Consumers are becoming savvy to this and more discerning about these potentially misleading claims by thoroughly “doing their research” before purchasing VMS products. However, packs leading with authorised health claims will still appeal more to many astute consumers (like Vitabiotics extensive range; the company has its own “first class” Expert Scientific Panel that advises and provides expertise, which is reassuring to many consumers). The likes of Omega 3 (taken in the form of fish oil) which has been heavily researched, will prove a popular choice with many (already a common ingredient in healthy breakfast cereals), as well as Life Extension’s range of products and VITASMART’s UTI symptom relieving D-Mannose tablets.
Taking collagen may have a variety of health benefits, including improving skin health and relieving joint pain. Absolute Collagen is one of the most prominent products on the market, making bold claims about improved skin texture, firmness, and wrinkle reduction. Currently, collagen is also a very hot topic in the sports supplements category. Indeed, taking collagen after exercise can support healthy joints and supporting the repair of muscles, boost muscle mass and help prevent bone loss. If you are looking to launch a collagen product specifically targeted at gym and sports enthusiasts (especially if it is a marine or bovine collagen peptide- these are particularly popular!) it is very likely to be in demand. Vegan collagen, such as Vitality X and is also on the rise, which, instead of being sourced from animals is made using genetically modified yeast and bacteria.
So how can you make your brand stand out in the typically hard-to-navigate category?
As with any new VMS product, its quality and effectiveness is its bedrock, however in order to engage with consumers branding is equally important as a differentiator. There is a lot of visual clutter and information in the VMS sector so it’s essential to build a design strategy that ensures your brand shines over thousands of competitor brands on the market.
Creating and maintaining a successful vitamin or supplement brand should be focused on building trust with consumers. Whether the trust is achieved via reassuring illustrative aesthetics on the packaging, a design solution that emphasises the natural ingredients of your product, or a science-led approach, it is essential to focus on reassuring consumers your product is the best, most reliable and most attainable.
Your branding and brand identity will make or break your brand; if your product is worthy and you can successfully communicate your brand’s message to your audience via your packaging and branding, you will be able to build a successful, sustainable VMS business. Creating a strong, memorable brand identity will also help you to engage retail buyers for your brand, very much instrumental to its success.
P&W can help guide you through the branding and packaging design process, just as we have recently done with our recent project with Oxford-educated medicinal chemist Dr. Samira Alishahi for her brand VITASMART™. P&W created a distinctive and elegant branding solution that achieves stand-out differentiation in the growing VMS category for the scientifically backed female supplements.
Engage our services and we can help you create a commercially successful brand that will empathise with consumers looking for reassurance, quality, and innovation in the exponentially increasing vitamin, mineral, and supplements sector.
If you would like to speak to our Creative Director about creating a branding and packaging approach for your VMS brand, get in contact today.
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