The nutritional supplements industry topped $32 billion in sales last year, increasing 7.4 percent over 2011 sales and tracking with the previous year’s 7 percent growth. Natural Food Merchandisers surveyed supplement retailers across the nation to determine what factors are driving the industry’s sustained growth.
Alongside what retailers call the “Dr. Oz Factor”—referring to the shelf-clearing power of endorsements by celebrities such as Dr. Mehmet Oz—are other trends and demographics that bring a strong demand to the market. Rising health-care and health-insurance costs compel consumers to explore preventative supplements and alternatives to more expensive prescriptive medicines. Among the most proactive consumers are the baby boomers, who in their 50s and 60s represent a large demographic looking to supplements to maintain health and wellness.
The boomers are not the only group driving growth. Retailers also reported increased sales among men and young people. Male shoppers often seek out the ever-increasing number of natural bodybuilding and sports nutrition supplements available, while young people gravitate toward general supplements or natural products for their children.
As an aging generation enters the market and traditional health care presents a greater challenge, supplement providers have a unique opportunity to position themselves as knowledgeable, viable health-care solutions. Whether through retail or direct sales, that kind of positioning requires education and interaction. As Jon Fiume of Wadsworth, Ohio-based Ritzman Pharmacies, points out, “You can’t just operate in your own little box. … What are you doing to get involved in the bigger initiatives that directly impact your community? Those efforts are also going to impact your business.”
Read the full report from Natural Food Merchandisers.