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Monitor: Dietary supplement sales nearly even in 3 biggest channels

Pandemic-era habits have increased sales in E-commerce and Mass Market channels, hurting share at natural and standalone retailers. See NBJ’s data.

Rick Polito, Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

May 31, 2024

2 Min Read
Monitor: Dietary supplement sales nearly even in 3 biggest channels

Not long ago, the idea that natural retail and standalone supplement stores would be anything less than dominant in the supplement market seemed almost inconceivable, but according to projections in the 2024 Supplement Business Report, the sales channel picture developing for 2025 will put natural and specialty brick and mortar roughly even with both E-commerce and Mass Market channels.

What that will mean for the supplement industry is not yet clear, both in the simple matters of distribution and pricing and more complex ideas about how consumers discover new products. What is clear is that the market parity was years in the making and also greatly accelerated by the pandemic, and that the time has come for retailers in what the natural and standalone supplement stores that NBJ defines as Natural and Specialty to up their game on differentiation.

 

Back in the 2010s, Natural and Specialty retail dwarfed E-commerce in supplement sales and stood well ahead of Mass Market. In 2018, for instance, Natural and Specialty claimed 36.6% of the supplement market to E-commerce’s 6.7% and Mass Market’s 27.1%. Then came the pandemic in 2020 and two things happened: Ordering online became a reflex, and the masked-dash experience of shopping in brick-and-mortar retail meant fewer consumers were eager to make a second stop at a stand-alone supplements store. In 2020, E-commerce sales ballooned 32% and Mass Market sprung forward 14.7%. Natural and specialty, meanwhile, eked out a bare 0.8% growth.

Related:Watch NBJ Live: Empowered Leadership–Behind the scenes at NBJ Summit

Four years later, those habits seem set in stone.

Mass Market passed Natural and Specialty in total sales last year. At some point in 2025, NBJ expects the three primary channels to come as close to parity as they ever will and in 2026, Natural and Specialty will be the smallest of the three.

This is no game-over scenario, of course. Supplements have never been an all-or-nothing game for sales channels. NBJ expects Natural and Specialty to sell $17.5 billion in supplements this year. Holding on to market share for retailers in that channel becomes a matter of marketing their strengths in service and position as the most reliable provider of quality supplements.

With new reports of counterfeit products on platforms like Amazon, some consumers are going to want to know that what they are buying is the real thing. At the same time, the dizzying array of obscure brands sold online is surely concerning to some consumers. They would likely appreciate the curation role that retailers, especially natural retailers, hold in making sure that only vetted products make it to the shelf.

 NBJ Supplement Business Report 2024

Get a closer look into today’s supplement industry with the NBJ Supplement Business Report 2024.

About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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