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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Supplement usage holds steady in shaky economic times

Despite uncertain economic times, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of dietary supplement consumers are sticking to their pill-purchasing habits, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Overall, slightly more adult consumers are taking dietary supplements this year than last year (65 percent in 2009 compared to 64 percent in 2008).

“If you look at dietary supplement usage for the past eight years, it has remained strong,” said Judy Blatman, senior vice president, communications, CRN. “The good news is that usage remains steady. The bad news is that we’re not gaining overall.”

Yet strides have been made when it comes to consumer confidence in supplements, said Blatman. According to the 2009 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, which sampled 2,043 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel, consumer confidence is at an all-time high at 81 percent when compared to annual results from previous years dating back to 2000. Blatman attributes the boost in confidence to the industry’s support of Good Manufacturing Practices, adverse event reports and truth in advertising programs.

For the 27 percent of dietary supplement consumers who have changed their supplement-buying habits as a result of the economy, their money-saving strategies include purchasing fewer supplements, less expensive brands, store brands or on-sale brands, as well as relying on coupons and other value-added promotions, according to the survey.

This year, the survey also asked supplement consumers which factors are most important to them when choosing supplements. The top priorities: price, the Supplements Facts box (i.e., serving size, daily value, etc.) and label claims (i.e., heart health, joint health, etc.).

“Consumers are looking for coupons and value-added programs, but the most important thing is that consumers need to understand the value of dietary supplements,” Blatman said. “The more that retailers and manufacturers work together in terms of education, the more they help consumers know they’re purchasing products that have science behind them and from retailers who want to form a bond with consumers.”

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