July 5, 2023
At the cash register, pills are taking a might beating, continuously losing market share to gummies. But a new defensive scheme—known for its versatility, convenience and economy—is helping the ancient format compete in the modern market, according to the latest NBJ Delivery Format Report.
The rapidly growing personalized nutrition market is perfectly matched to pill’s classic advantages of affordability, portability and “sortability.” Pills play well in a packet in a way that gummies never will. More important than how well pills travel in the packet might be what it takes to put them into the packets. For personalized nutrition to work, combinations of pills have to be sorted and assembled as sets. Elaborate machinery is required to sort the right pills into the right sets and pour them into a packet. It’s hard to imagine a sorting machine that could work well with gummies.
That combination of features grants pills the right to win in this expanding market. In NBJ estimates, pill packet sales grew 45.6% in 2022, while sales of pills overall fell 0.6% in a slow market year for supplements. Except for a scant 0.3% gain for tablets, no pill sub-format's sales increased in 2022. The runway looking forward for pill packets would be spectacular even without comparing it to the overall pill market: In 2023, NBJ projects 73.7% growth, followed by a 59.6% gain in 2024.
What’s important to remember here is that while pills are not going away anytime soon, pill packets account for all but a sliver of pill growth. Pill packets are on track to rise from 1.4% of supplement sales in 2022 to a full 5% in 2026. Meanwhile, the market share for pills overall, which includes pill packets, continues to decline.
The outlook for pills could also change in ways that are difficult to predict. Gummies are ascendant now, but they could also be the gateway to supplements for a significant number of consumers. That matters because as people become more regular users and add products to their regimens, gummies lose appeal. In a consumer survey conducted for the NBJ Dietary Format Report, two-thirds of people who take two or more different products say they turn to pills because they are easier to take. Who wants to stand around chewing when they could swallow multiple pills in one gulp? The survey also finds that consumers tend to trust pills as more effective.
None of this is to say that gummies are a fad, but how well pills fit into the modern concept of personalized nutrition tells us this 3,500-year-old format is very much the opposite.
Learn more about the Nutrition Business Journal Delivery Format Report at the NBJ store.
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