WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 2007 – Consumers’ use of dietary supplements has remained fairly consistent this year, with 68 percent of American adults saying that they take dietary supplements compared to 66 percent last year, according to a new online survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). Interestingly, this year’s survey showed that more adults than last year consider themselves to be “regular” users of dietary supplement products, with 52 percent of Americans identifying themselves in that category, up from 46 percent in 2006. A portion of the annual survey results were released at the CRN annual conference on dietary supplements being held this week at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The online survey of adults nationwide was inconsistent with a companion telephone survey from Ipsos also conducted for CRN, which found that only 31 percent of Americans consider themselves “regular” users. Confidence levels for dietary supplements also differ between the phone and Internet respondents, with 80 percent of online participants saying that they are confident in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements, compared to 67 percent of telephone respondents. Both numbers are consistent with discrepancies observed in last year’s results that showed that 79 percent of those surveyed online and 69 percent surveyed by telephone were confident in dietary supplements.
“This is the third year that we’ve conducted the survey online and it’s interesting to start to see the consistent trends building,” said Judy Blatman, vice president, communications, CRN. “It’s intriguing that some of the results between Internet respondents and telephone respondents are so far apart. The psychographics of the online respondents may reflect that Internet users in general take a more active role in seeking out information about their healthcare, and consequently are more confident in the products they use. Because they tend to make more fully informed decisions about their health, it would make sense that the confidence numbers would be higher and would explain why they’re more conscientious about using supplements regularly.”
Despite the increased media coverage of various product safety issues over the past year, consumers’ trust in dietary supplement products does not appear to have been significantly impacted. Last year, in the online survey 85 percent of consumers said that they believed that vitamin and mineral supplements are safe, compared to 84 percent this year; similarly, last year 70 percent agreed that herbal supplements are safe, compared to 70 percent this year.
Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN, urges the industry not to get complacent when it comes to consumer trust, however. “We can’t take safety for granted. We need to make sure that there are quality control practices in place from start to finish, at each phase of the production process, to ensure the highest quality supplement products for our consumers. The publication of new good manufacturing practices for dietary supplements and the industry-wide Standardized Information on Dietary Ingredients (SIDI) voluntary program will help ensure quality, and the adverse event reporting law will also allow us to discover potential problematic patterns. So as an industry we’re taking the kinds of necessary steps to help protect consumers and help raise the confidence level.”
Ms. Blatman further pointed out that healthcare professionals play an important role to instill consumer trust, noting the online survey finding that demonstrated 68 percent of supplement users trust their doctor as a reliable source of information about supplements, with 40 percent also naming pharmacists.
As part of the “Life…supplemented” consumer wellness campaign, CRN recently announced that Ipsos is conducting a significant research study with 900 doctors and 300 nurses to learn more about their personal supplement use and whether or not that impacts the way they counsel their patients about dietary supplements. Results are expected to be released in November.
“Because the advice of healthcare professionals is so important to our consumers, it’s important for our industry to learn more about whether or not there is a correlation between their personal supplement use and recommendations by these healthcare professionals,” said Ms. Blatman.
The 2007 Consumer Confidence Surveys were fielded in August by Ipsos-Public Affairs and funded by CRN. The first, consisting of 1,007 completed telephone interviews, was conducted annually for the eighth consecutive year, providing important trending data. The second survey, also fielded in August, was an online survey of 2,153 people and was first fielded in 2005. The random samples consist of U.S. adults aged 18+ and the results were weighted to represent the U.S. adult population.
Ipsos-Public Affairs is part of Ipsos, a leading global survey-based market research group offering a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services. Ipsos-Public Affairs conducts strategic initiatives for a diverse number of U.S. and international organizations, and through Ipsos U.S. Express, uses this omnibus survey to monitor attitudes and opinions of adults throughout the country.
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The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement industry ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members voluntarily adhere to a strong code of ethics and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices.