GNC-Sponsored Natural Marketing Institute Survey Shows High Consumer Confidence in Supplement Efficacy

Supplementation shows growth, stability as understanding of nutritional supplements increases

PITTSBURGH, Nov 17, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- General Nutrition Centers, the nation's largest specialty retailer of nutritional supplements, and the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), a strategic consulting, market research and business development company, announced today key findings of NMI's 2003 Health & Wellness Trends Database(TM) study.

The annual survey, which tracks five years of trended data, and polls more than 2,000 consumer household respondents annually on health and wellness attitudes, behaviors and product usage, shows growth and stability in the supplements market, with more than 57 percent of those polled agreeing that taking vitamins and minerals is "extremely" or "very" important in maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Over the past five years this positive attitude towards the importance of supplements has had 3% compound annual growth, an increase considered significant in a mature category.

Other significant findings of the 2003 survey include:

-- More than 85 percent of the general population has used some
type of nutritional supplement in the past year and over 59
percent of respondents use them on a daily basis.

-- Educational efforts with regard to supplements seem to be
connecting with consumers, as only 18 percent of respondents
claim to be "overwhelmed" by the characteristics of the
dietary supplements they use, down from 26 percent in 2002. In
fact, more than two-thirds of the general population believes
that vitamins and minerals are effective in the prevention of
certain conditions.

-- While longevity and prevention remain the main reasons for
maintaining a healthy lifestyle, an increasing number of
consumers cite immediate benefits, such as improved appearance
- up 4.2 percent (CAGR) over the past three years.

"The NMI study results are extremely promising and demonstrate that consumers continue to maintain a high degree of confidence in the use of nutritional supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle," said Steven Nelson, GNC Vice President of Marketing. "It is also gratifying to see that educational initiatives are paying off, as consumers take greater responsibility for their own health and wellness and better understand the characteristics of the vitamins and supplements they are using."

NMI's Health and Wellness Trends Database(TM) (HWTD) is an annual study of 2,000 U.S. consumer households, with the most recent annual survey fielding in July 2003. Valid to +/- 2 percent statistical significance, the HWTD now contains five years of trends with regard to attitudes, behaviors, product usage patterns, lifestyles, and demographics surrounding foods, beverages, nutritional supplements, weight loss, sports nutrition, personal care - among other products.

About NMI:

NMI, based in Harleysville, PA, is a strategic consulting, market research, and business development company specializing in the health and wellness marketplace. Its capabilities focus on the well-being of people and products, and the environmentally and socially responsible sustainability of the planet.

About GNC:

General Nutrition Companies, Inc. (GNC), based in Pittsburgh, PA, is the largest nationwide specialty retailer of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, sports nutrition as well as personal care and related products. GNC operates more than 5,000 retail outlets throughout the United States, including 1,370 domestic franchise locations, and in 33 foreign markets including Canada and Mexico. GNC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Numico N.V., a worldwide market leader in specialized nutrition that includes infant and clinical nutrition and nutritional supplements. Headquartered in Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, Royal Numico operates in over 100 countries and has research facilities in the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, China, Australia and in the US. Additional information can be found on and

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