Consumers may have lost control during the recession, but according to a new NMI report they’re getting it back by demanding more from the products they buy.

Melissa Kvidahl Reilly, Writer/Editor

August 12, 2019

3 Min Read
4 shifts in consumer behavior guiding supplement sales
<p><em>Photo by Thinkstock.</em></p>

NMI recently released a report about trends pertaining to supplements, over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs. The market researcher identified four trends on the rise and, specifically, how supplement brands can appeal to them. But what do these trends say about the consumer? Maryellen Molyneaux, president and managing partner of NMI, shed some light on the consumer shifts behind these trends.

1. Proof of efficacy

Perceived quality and reported clinical substantiation aren’t enough for today’s consumers, who want to make every dollar count and want tangible proof of effectiveness. Supplements can speak to this consumer, NMI says, by providing testimonials, visual proof, physician and pharmacists recommendations and, where possible, clinically proven benefits the consumer can actually experience.

Consumer shift: Consumers have been asking for more for quite some time. Specifically, Molyneaux points to the Great Recession of 2008 as a turning point where consumers lost a great deal of money–and control–and wanted to be sure they weren’t wasting their hard earned dollars. Though the economy has bounced back, Molyneaux says consumers’ attitudes have stayed the same. “They want more for their money,” she says. “They are protective of their dollars and they want proof that what they’re buying will work.”

2. Tangible value

Not unlike consumers’ desire for proof, they want to be sure that the products they buy will produce a tangible effect. When it comes to supplements, brands must be able to provide realized value if they want to stay on consumers’ priority lists.

Consumer shift: According to Molyneaux, consumers have the highest belief in the effectiveness of supplements for digestion, immune health and joint health. Why? “You can tell if they’re working,” she says. “With digestive supplements, you know immediately that it’s working if the pain is gone. You know your immune health supplement is working if you’re getting fewer colds. And you know your joint health supplement is working if you cam move more easily.” Plus, when it comes to older consumers, she says, bioavailability is increasingly important, as they want to know they’re getting (read: absorbing) what they’re paying for.

3. Emerging attributes

Though less important than the two trends above, attributes such as sustainability, organic and plant-based are on the rise.

Consumer shift: According to Molyneaux, attributes like organic, non-GMO and sustainable have doubled in importance for consumers, indicating an upward trend that isn’t going anywhere. “We see this pattern coming over from the food industry,” she says. “Consumers want high quality across the board.”

4. OTC market

NMI found that the most-used OTC products address pain, immunity (cough/cold) and digestion. But since only one in four consumers feel these are very safe or effective, there’s an opportunity for supplement brands to offer better solutions.

Consumer shift: “OTC brands feel they’re facing a downhill battle because consumers are opting for more control, and don’t want chemicals,” Molyneaux says. “They have a desire for control they lost during the recession.” As a result, consumers may not be looking to simply address symptoms with an OTC medicine, but rather address the underlying nutritional issues with supplements. They don’t want to rely on medicines or doctors if they can help it, Molyneaux says, and would rather take control of their own health with a natural supplement. 

About the Author(s)

Melissa Kvidahl Reilly


Melissa Kvidahl Reilly is a freelance writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering news and trends in the natural, organic and supplement markets. She lives and works in New Jersey.

Subscribe and receive the latest updates on trends, data, events and more.
Join 57,000+ members of the natural products community.

You May Also Like