In the supplements industry, the approach to how vitamins and minerals have historically been administered and delivered to the consumer has generally taken five forms: hard shell capsules, tablets, soft gels, liquids and powders.
While manufacturers are as expert as can be at producing these supplement “delivery forms,” the interest from consumers in new options beyond popping pills is starting to grow, and brands are waking up to the fact that supplements can come in all kinds of formats. As such, companies are getting creative in developing new and exciting ways to deliver supplements, vitamins and minerals—and make no mistake, this is serious business.
According to the 2017 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 76 percent of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, which is an all-time high for supplement consumption. There is a more diverse demographic that is starting to take supplementation and the reasons are many and varied. Consumers are seeking new ways to improve their quality of life at every stage. From multivitamins for children to supplements targeted at older consumers to address cardiovascular, libido, cognitive, joint and muscle, weight management, eye, skin and a myriad of other areas, more people are taking supplements.
The market is seeing a diversification happening not only in terms of who is taking supplements, but also how. People are not just taking tablets and capsules; they are turning to powders and drink mixes — and this is starting to transition into foods and other delivery forms as well.
One of the driving forces is simple pill fatigue. Folks get tired of popping pills. Consumers are looking for easier-to-obtain supplementation without having to swallow a big capsule or pill, while at the same time, making it a more enjoyable experience. Case in point is the fact that gummy vitamins are now bringing in $1 billion dollars in sales annually.
There is now, and will continue to be among brands and manufacturers, a big emphasis on flavor and experience. Consumers desire a more enjoyable experience when they are taking products and using them more in their life. It is a move away from the adage, “If it’s good for you, it has to taste bad,” and a move toward the idea that a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Taste and texture are important. Beyond taste, consumers are seeking healthier alternatives when it comes to beverages and foods. People are migrating away from soft drinks and similar sugary drinks. In a 12-year study, published in the journal Obesity, in 2003, 79.7 percent of children and 61.5 percent of adults drank a sugary beverage on any given day. In 2014, the figures dropped to 60.7 percent of children and 50 percent of adults. Beverage Digest reported that recent sales of soda drinks decreased by about 1.2 percent in 2016, which was the 12th year in a row that sales have slipped. The report showed demand was hit by consumers choosing healthier options as well as new sugar taxes aimed at reducing obesity and diabetes rates.
As people are focusing on healthy alternatives for food and food choices, ultimately, the market will begin to see more supplementation married with food.
People will want to get their supplements, vitamins and nutrients in foods they already consume such as, yogurts (such as probiotics), and even items that were previously considered strictly unhealthy such as potato chips, candy, ice cream, lollypops and so on. This trend will continue to shift and grow.
Evolutions In The Food And Supplement Industries
While pills and tablets will always be there, the beverage delivery systems are on the rise like never before. With new flavor combinations and formats such as shots, smoothies and shakes, manufacturers can add even more ways to increase the positive experience by adding enhancers such as effervesces.
One creative approach that is quickly evolving is the area of countertop dispensaries. This is similar in concept to a Keurig coffee machine where there is a one-off format with a multitude of options. This essentially provides a mechanism to “brew” the vitamins and minerals requested in a beverage flavor of choice or smoothie. This is indicative of consumer desire for increased convenience and single-dose formats.
Great strides are soon to be made in the form of transdermal patches. For example, instead of a patch only reducing the urge to smoke, the patch will give users a nutritional boost as well. Gummies are all the rage now and this will only continue to grow. The lungs offer a very strong delivery pathway and vaping vitamins could be part of our collective future; and how about getting the benefits of a bowl of vegetables in a stick of chewing gum.
Food and supplement manufacturers are working together to drive these scenarios forward as consumers increasingly want convenience and enjoyment as an integral part of their daily supplement regime.
The sky is the limit for new and innovative delivery forms. Consumers want them, it’s time to get creative.
Justin Bath is President of Biovation Labs.