Vitamin Industry Growth Slows, While Consumers Switch To More Traditional Market Channels

In its fifth year, TABS Group Annual Vitamin Study reports a small increase of 2 percent in vitamin sales versus 2011, to $12.2 billion. This is despite the percentage of US vitamin users in 2012 decreasing from 71 to 66 percent. In addition to trade-ups and price inflation, this development indicates most of the increased usage is emanating from current buyers purchasing more vitamins.  The survey likewise shows a significant shift in where consumers are purchasing vitamins

The TABS study confirmed secondary users left the market while remaining users compensated by buying more. “In the five years of conducting this survey, this is the greatest upheaval.  The continued shift of sales towards traditional channels accelerated and there were significant declines in the overall buyer base,” said Dr. Kurt Jetta, TABS Group CEO.

While multivitamins remain most popular with 75 percent of category buyers purchasing, others include Fish Oil (43 percent), Calcium (33 percent), Vitamin C and D (both at 32 percent) and Vitamin B (23 percent).  Buyer growth in Fish Oil and Vitamin D, two high growth areas in the past five years, has stopped. Only Vitamin B saw meaningful gains in 2012, 23 percent v 20 percent in 2011. “Except for Vitamin B, there were no areas of growth in attracting additional buyers which has implications for manufacturers and retailers over the next 18-24 months.  We project the category remains relatively flat, with growth coming from trading up existing customers,” continued Jetta.

The survey revealed a shift from specialty retailers towards mainstream. Target, Walgreens, CVS and online sales were the big winners, with Wal-Mart apparently stabilizing share, while catalogue and nutritional specialty retailers lost share.

Growth in the heavy buyers category was driven by women with a 36 percent increase from 2005, and the affluent (income $75,000 +).

“Longer-term, we are bullish on the category and view this as a short-term blip created primarily from unfavorable press.  Macro consumer trends (aging population, migration towards self-care, higher healthcare costs) point to solid gains over the next 10 years,” continues Jetta.

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