Flagging UK supplements market boosted by over-65s and women

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamins Nutrition Mintel

Falling demand and a negative profile mark today's €466 million UK vitamins and supplements market, but women, the over-65s and own-label developments could inject growth opportunities, finds a Mintel consumer survey.

More than half of the 991 adults interviewed by the trend trackers have not used vitamins and supplements in the past year, with a further 39 per cent claiming they would not do so in the future.

The survey findings echo a recent TGI (Target Group Index) survey, also by Mintel, that showed the number of vitamin and supplement users has actually contracted by 1.3 per per cent since 2004, following a peak in 2006.

And shrinking figures for heavy, medium and light usage indicates, suggests Mintel, that manufacturers are feeling the force of the ailing UK economy.

"Even with with pricing discounts on vitamins and supplements, consumers are foregoing non-essential expenditure wherever possible,"​ claims the report.

Further, competition from food and drink products with added vitamins and nutrients is having a negative impact on the supplements and vitamin market, not least because of the convenience factor.

"Ease of consumption is something that counts against vitamins and supplements when taken separately in tablet/capsule/tonic format,"​ states Mintel.

But this situation could be turned into an opportunity, with more crossovers with food and drink products helping to drive the market move forward, say the researchers, citing the example of Vitabiotics’ Wellwoman drink.

The survey suggests that other food products to benefit from being fortified with more vitamins and minerals include more treat foods, such as confectionery, crisps, cakes.

Further, convenience foods and ready meals could also hold the potential for fortification, ensuring that people 'with busy lives' are well nourished, proposed the report.

Profile of a supplement user

In drawing up a profile of today's vitamin and supplement users, there seems to be a clear demarcation in demographic trends with women, the over-65s, house-owners and broadsheet readers all falling into the potential pool of users.

"Broadsheet-reading females over 65 are an obvious target for vitamins and supplements products,"​ say the researchers.

And it "would make sense", ​adds Mintel, to market vitamins and supplements for older people - who are increasingly concerned about their heart health, cholesterol levels and blood pressure - through the broadsheets and mid-market tabloids.

However, interest in vitamins and supplements does not, according to the researchers, follow a steady upward curve from young adulthood to pensionable age.

According to their survey, the 15 to 24 age group is almost as likely to have used, or want to continue using, vitamins and supplements as the 55-64 age group.

Young adult products - such as Active Health developed by Bassetts - should be "striking a chord with this age group" ​through appropriate marketing channels, such as YouTube.

Own-label opportunities

The Mintel survey suggests that with such a positive approach to vitamins and supplements among Marks & Spencer and Waitrose shoppers, potential exists for own-label development. UK high-end food Waitrose, for example, has a "very limited range of own-brand vitamins", composed of multivitamins, cod liver oil and evening primrose oil.

"Crossovers with functional food and drink products," ​could be further growth opportunities at these retailers.

Consumers who shop at the Co-op and Somerfield stand out for their "willingness to engage with vitamins and supplements",​ a phenomenon possibly related to their older age profile, suggests the survey.

By comparison, Asda and Iceland shoppers have a very negative view of vitamins and supplements - they are, according to the Mintel data, the least likely to want to use them in the future.

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