Vitamin Sales Hit Record Heights as Online and Brick and Mortar Sales Continue to Rise, TABS Analytics Report Reveals

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Growth Driven by Large Uptick in Occasional Buyers and Addition of New Hair/Skin/Nail and Melatonin offerings

Analyzing more than a decade's worth of data, the VMS market is showing the classic characteristics of a mature category and I expect that mass market and eCommerce will continue to expand, at the expense of specialty retailers.

Vitamin, mineral and nutritional supplement (VMS) sales grew by an estimated $500 million, or 3 percent, during the past year, driven by record increases at both online outlets and brick and mortar stores, according to the TABS Analytics 11th Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements Study. The 3 percent growth in the $14 billion VMS market was fueled by an increasing number of consumers who purchased products occasionally, and by strong growth at both Amazon and Walmart.

“Walmart continues to hold its leadership position in VMS sales at its brick and mortar stores, and it is showing online growth while Amazon remains at the top and continues to extend is lead in the eCommerce space,” said Dr. Kurt Jetta, president and founder of TABS Analytics. “These trends counter conventional wisdom that online sales are coming at the expense of purchases in physical stores. These two types of outlets do not need to be mutually exclusive; rather they both can continue to grow sales with the right approach to marketing and product mix.”

TABS Analytics’ VMS study was conducted in April 2018 by Caravan, part of ORC International, and was developed to examine trends regarding what types of vitamins and nutritional supplements are purchased, how frequently they’re purchased and at which outlets they are purchased. The survey panel included 1,000 geographically and demographically dispersed consumers. This was the 11th year that VMS survey was conducted, having started in the spring of 2005 and 2008, and then annually since 2010.

Key findings from the study:

  • VMS sales reach new heights – This category continues to grow gradually, with penetration reaching 78 percent in 2018 - its highest level in the history of TABS's survey. Purchasing by heavy buyers (those who purchase 3+ types of products), which typically drive penetration, were flat in 2018. Most of the growth this year is attributable to a 2 percent increase in occasional purchasers (1-2 product types). Purchasing dropped among women ages 55+, who have tended to drive sales in the VMS market. This 9-point drop was offset by growth in purchasing by men, both younger (ages 18-54) and those 55+.
  • Walmart leads in mass market brick and mortar, gaining online share – Walmart was the clear winner among brick and mortar outlets, with 39 percent of survey respondents indicating that they purchased VMS products there, up 7 percentage points from last year. Food also saw gains, up 3 percentage points to 18 percent and the other major brick and mortar outlets (including major specialty stores like GNC and Vitamin Shoppe) remained stable. Losers included Club (Costco and Sam’s) and the natural food channel.
  • Amazon remains at top in eCommerce – While Walmart grows its online VMS business consistently, Amazon grew from a flat base in 2017 as 10 percent of survey respondents noted they made purchases through the online retailer. Another bright spot was Puritan's Pride, showing solid performance as #3 eCommerce retailer as it effectively converted catalog customers to the online channel.
  • Adult multivitamins, Vitamins B and D, and niche products see upticks – Driven by gummy and gender-specific product launches, adult multivitamins grew from 48 percent penetration in 2016 to 55 percent this year. Vitamins B and D continued their upward trend as well, growing to 22 percent and 29 percent penetration, respectively. Melatonin, which has exhibited steady progress over the years, and hair/skin/nail multivitamins, a relative newcomer in this segment, also were solid contributors to overall growth.
  • Fish oil and calcium continue downward slide – Once hot products, fish oil and calcium, continue dropping from past peaks. Fish oil, which once had the second largest penetration, after adult multivitamins, has declined from a high of 31 percent in 2011 to 22 percent this year. Similarly, calcium dropped to 17 percent after sales seemed to stabilize in the previous two years.
  • Occasional buyers drive sales growth in mass market and online – Buyers of only 1-2 types of VMS products were responsible for gains in both the mass market and eCommerce channels.
  • Purchasing at specialty outlets drop – Mirroring trends in other sectors, like baby and sporting goods, specialty outlets experienced lower penetration across the buyer spectrum.

The TABS Analytics 111h Annual Vitamin Study white paper is now available here.

"Analyzing more than a decade's worth of data, the VMS market is showing the classic characteristics of a mature category and I expect that mass market and eCommerce will continue to expand, at the expense of specialty retailers," Jetta said. “In fact, Specialty Outlets are under duress in other sectors such as Baby, Sporting Goods, and Books. Looking ahead, we expect growth of about 4 percent to 5 percent between 2019 and 2021, but this could increase depending on inflationary pressures, which are highly likely over the next 12-24 months."

Throughout 2018, TABS Analytics is conducting six studies across the consumer-packaged goods industry including: baby care, vitamins, wine & liquor, candy, food and beverage, and cosmetics. More information about TABS studies is available at http://www.tabsanalytics.com/resources.

About TABS Analytics
Operating since 1998, TABS Analytics, based in Shelton, Conn., is a technology-enabled analytics firm. Its mission is to simplify and improve the way analytics are conducted in the consumer products industry. TABS offers cloud-based software analytics and applications solutions, including TABS Insight®, Pivotstream® and TABS Total Insights™, for CPG manufacturers that integrate, harmonize, and analyze sales and marketing data. Additional services include TABS CatMan Advantage™, an outsourced category management solution, TABS WorldView™, a global business intelligence tool, and TABS Promo Insight™, a cloud-based software and consulting service that helps companies measure, plan and optimize trade spending. For more information about TABS, please visit http://www.tabsanalytics.com/press-room to contact us directly.

Media Contact:
Contact Information:
For TABS Analytics
Robert Baldwin
Ph: 203-446-8837
robertbaldwin@tabsanalytics.com

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