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A case for cross-merchandising food and supplements

What if we put supplements not in their own aisle next to the pharmacy where people are thinking medicine but in the dairy and produce and meat departments, where people are thinking about nutrients?

Food retailers interested in “getting their fair share” of the $37 billion supplement segment should merchandise supplements throughout the store, said Eric Pierce, director, strategy and insights, NEXT at New Hope Natural Media, during SN's Health and Wellness Summit at Expo East in Baltimore, Wednesday.

"What if we thought about merchandising our supplements differently?" asked Pierce. "What if we put our supplements not in their own little aisle next to the pharmacy where people are thinking medicine? What if supplements were co-marketed in your dairy department, your produce department, where people are thinking about nutrients and the challenges of getting the best nutrients available to them? What if you thought about marketing seasonally to those consumers who want local products but struggle to get the right local products or organic products in the winter?"

Pierce urged retailers to merchandise supplements as complementary to other foods.

"Increasingly consumers are looking to foods as medicine," he said. "Increasingly some consumers are looking to foods like eating more fish. The FDA is talking about increasing fish consumption to two times a week because of the omegas and the health benefits associated with the omegas, but why let fish take all the credit, right? Why not break the mold a little bit and sell some of your omega supplements in the fish department? Some of your omega supplements being in the fish department allows you to have that dialogue about selling the seafood that's going to be probably the best source for it. Whole foods still are going to be the right way, but not everyone knows how to cook fish. Not everyone is going to be cooking fish twice a week. The supplement is going to be there to help someone out."

Pierce also suggested merchandising vitamin D on endcaps during wintertime; putting prenatal vitamins in the baby aisle; and positioning B-12 for vegans, who are often deficient, near dairy alternatives.

This piece originally appeared on, a New Hope 360 sister website. Visit the site for more grocery trends insights.

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