New niches fuel multivitamins

The future success of multivitamins may come down to basic user-friendliness.

Findings from the past year show that vitamin sales have been stronger than most other health and beauty categories. The recent emphasis placed by vitamin and nutritional supplement manufacturers on new multivitamin brands has delivered positive results. SymphonyIRI Group reported that, in the 24 weeks ended May 15, multivitamins outperformed the total vitamin category. 

In particular, multivitamins engineered to reach a specific clientele are flourishing. Pharmavite, the maker of Nature Made vitamins and nutritional supplements, has reaped the benefits of such innovation. “In the past year, age- and gender-specific products have been trending upward,” said Doug Jones, Pharmavite’s corporate communications and public relations manager. 

Other manufacturers are following suit. Bayer recently launched One A Day Petites, a line of multivitamins specifically formulated to address women’s health issues. SymphonyIRI numbers showed that sales for One A Day Women’s 50+ Advantage multivitamins were up 9% over the past year, while sales for One A Day Women’s Prenatal multivitamins have increased by a robust 24% over the same period. With such a wide variety of vitamin options available, Bayer also is encouraging consumers to use the personalized selector on the website, which recommends products to meet the consumer’s personal needs. 

The future success of multivitamins may come down to basic user-friendliness. Because swallowing large pills once was a discomforting ordeal, especially for seniors, many companies focused on addressing that dilemma. For its part, Pharmavite has found that consumers prefer soft gel tablets. “Soft gels are easier to swallow than tablets, despite being larger pills, because they are coated,” Jones said. 

Also worth noting is the recent strong performance of store-brand multivitamins. Numbers indicated private-brand sales over the past year were up more than 5%, which was greater than the overall category growth. That trend, however, appears to be changing, largely on the strength of such national-brand gummy vitamins as Bayer’s One A Day VitaCraves, and Northwest Natural’s VitaFusion. 

So, in the days of SKU rationalization, are multivitamins creating new users or are they fragmenting the vitamin market? Jones believed it is the former. “From the data we’ve received,” he said, “we’ve brought new customers into the category, which makes our retailers very happy.”

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