Food supplements: Consumer buying trends

Drawing on her background in nutritional biochemistry, Accelerate Associates’ Director Katherine Bourne oversaw our first ever consumer survey regarding food supplements.

The Challenge

Although retailers are able to track which food supplements are most popular, there is little market intelligence available to them to reveal why consumers are selecting to use specific supplements.

In recent years, there have also been a number of dosage form innovations such as chews and melts entering the market, therefore we decided to take a closer look at the consumer market.

The Approach

A simple questionnaire-based survey was developed to gather opinion from consumers aged 18 years and over. Opportunities to participate in the survey were offered at face-to-face events over the course of a 6-month period. Respondents would fill in the self-completing questionnaire anonymously.

Director comment:

“Although the majority of respondents would consider switching away from their existing brands – with price the key determining factor – when consumers initially select a new supplement, the key determining factors become the potential benefits of using the supplement and “selecting a well-known brand”. It is unsurprising that they survey also identified a high level of consumer trust in UK food supplement industry.”

The Results

The Food Supplements Survey identified:

  • 77% of  respondents using food supplements were aged 31-64 years of age.
  • A detailed breakdown of the types of supplement consumed in the UK. This information was broken down by:
    • Supplement type
    • Dosage form
    • Age of respondent.
  • Supplement profiles were created listing the age group most likely to use each supplement and the key reasons why the supplement is used.
  • Key themes of healthy ageing and joint health emerged from the survey as leading drivers for supplement use.
  • 7% respondents identified that they use food supplements to fill nutrient gaps. This was particularly relevant for respondents who identified themselves as vegetarian or vegan.
  • Sales channel research identified that supermarkets, as well as more specialised retailers such as Boots and Holland and Barratt, are the key suppliers of nutritional supplements on the high street with 46% survey participants purchasing their food supplements online.
  • Brand switching is relatively high with 75% respondents stating that they would consider switching their brand of nutritional supplement.

The key findings from the Food Supplement Survey were presented to the Medilink Midlands Food Supplements Special Interest Group.

If you would like to know more about the Food Supplements Survey, please contact us.


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