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New Hope 360 Blog

Who's buying supplements—and who's not?

I just got a chance to dive into "Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., 5th edition", a new report from market research firm Packaged Facts. Like other market overviews, the authors report that the ongoing recession hasn’t slowed sales and they predict continued growth, with sales reaching $15.5 billion within the next five years. Fish oil and vitamin D use is growing; more affordable private label and “other brand” sales are strong; evidence of efficacy spurs supplement use—and customers need reassurance in the face of negative media reports.

But what really caught my interest were the sections about looking forward—finding ways to reach out to populations that aren’t using supplements the way that people over age 65 and other baby boomers do.

Reaching younger adults

Between 2008 and 2012, supplement usage among those ages 18 to 29 declined 8 percent overall. For manufacturers and retailers, it’s well worth earning the attention of millennials—they have a lot more years in front of them.

Beyond that youthful feeling of immortality, why aren’t young people taking more supplements? Part of it may be affordability, says Mark James of VitalBulk, a new provider of bulk bin-dispensed supplements. At one of his test stores in Davis, Calif., the bins mostly languished for a few months—until the students came back for the school year.

Millennials tend to be less loyal to the natural category, picking and choosing products that work for them—often ones that give them the effect or feeling they’re seeking or a brand that they feel a connection to. (For instance, new Zen'd all-natural stress-release shots may be a product to check out for these consumers.) Millennials are also very comfortable shopping online and getting information via social media, so brands—and stores—need to be active there to reach them.

Hispanic shoppers

The largest and fastest growing minority in the U.S, the Hispanic population is estimated to grow 34 percent to nearly 66 million between 2010 and 2020, at which time they will make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to U.S. Census data.

Still, says the report, this critical population is slowly coming around. The number of Hispanics using supplements grew by two million during the period, an increase of nearly 16 percent, according to Experian Simmons.

The Hispanic population has a cultural appreciation for traditional herbal remedies—and are being hard hit by prediabetes and type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Still, they’re generally not being served by most retailers or manufacturers.

Hiring Spanish-literate sales associates, and translating signs and educational materials can help, as can getting involved in local community events. But it's time to get creative about specifically targeting this population—a key to keeping future supplement sales healthy, especially in certain U.S. regions.

Have you had success with reaching millenial or Hispanic shoppers? Please share your story in the comments.

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