Consumers stick with supplements despite down economy

Consumers stick with supplements despite down economy

Only 29 percent of adults say the economy has impacted their household’s supplements purchasing habits; just 7 percent have stopped buying supplements, according to CRN research.

Despite a sluggish economy, over two-thirds of Americans (71 percent) report the economy has not affected their household’s purchasing habits of dietary supplements, according to a survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). The most recent CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, evaluates the attitudes towards and usage of dietary supplements by U.S. adults, and also assesses how economic factors affect supplement-purchasing habits.

Only a minority of adults (29 percent) report that the economy has impacted their household’s purchasing habits of supplements. The study asked specifically how it affected their purchasing habits, and only 7 percent of Americans report they have stopped purchasing supplements because of the economy. However, overall use of dietary supplements is on the rise with 69 percent of all Americans reporting that they use supplements, up from 66 percent in 2010.

For the 29 percent of consumers whose supplement purchasing habits have been affected by the economy, many are engaging in a variety of money saving tactics. The top three money saving tactics reported by this segment of consumers are: buying fewer supplements as a means to save money; buying supplements only when they are on sale; and purchasing less expensive supplement brands.

The CRN survey also found that the supplement purchasing habits of those 55+ were least affected by the trying economy, with 78 percent of that group indicating as such, followed by consumers 18-34 (70 percent) and those aged 35-54 (65 percent). Further findings indicated that gender didn’t appear to be a factor, as men (71 percent) and women (70 percent) were equally likely to not let the economy affect their purchasing habits of dietary supplements.

The CRN study is in-line with a special report in AdAge magazine titled “The New Necessities: What Products and Services Can Consumers Not Live Without?,” citing a study by advertising agency Leo Burnett which studies the impact of consumer "wants" vs. "needs" in a down economy. In a diagram of wants vs. needs, vitamins were listed as something that consumers couldn’t bear to cut back on—and on par with car insurance, routine car maintenance, mobile phone service and household repairs.

“What’s interesting about our survey findings and those of Leo Burnett is that, even in the midst of trying economic times, dietary supplements are not something consumers are willing to sacrifice. While they certainly are looking for ways to save money, they clearly know the value of using dietary supplements to promote overall health and wellness,” said Judy Blatman, senior vice president, communications, CRN. “Given the ongoing debate about healthcare in America, it’s encouraging to see consumers taking proactive steps, such as incorporating dietary supplements into their health regimen.”

The 2011 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements was conducted August 25-29, 2011 by Ipsos Public Affairs and funded by CRN.  The survey was conducted online and included a national sample of 2,015 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel.  The survey has been conducted annually since 2000. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points.

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