Traceability is the new VMS buzzword
Sales of vitamins and supplements are generally 10 times greater across large retail chain outlets, including all major food, drug and mass retailers, as compared to specialty outlets. While sales through specialty channels are not nearly as great, the fact remains that the growth trends tracked through those channels, ranging from natural grocers to gourmet wellness stores, are great harbingers of what might soon be best-selling categories within mass outlets.
Drug Store News tapped into the data and expertise of SPINS — a provider of retail consumer insights, analytics reporting and consulting services for the natural, organic and specialty products industry — for its perspective of what’s happening in the specialty space today that could make a cross-over to mass outlets in the months to come. “A new thing we’re seeing is people want traceability,” Scott Dicker, SPINS nutrition researcher, told Drug Store News. “Amazon started this through Amazon Elements, which allows consumers to trace where ingredients are coming from and exactly how much [of that ingredient] is in different batches. A lot of companies are beginning to follow that trend.”
Another trend that’s percolating among specialty outlets that may make its transition to mass is the ketogenic diet, which is the latest low-carb dieting trend. “That may turn out to be a flash in the pan, but it’s going to be a big flash for conventional [outlets],” Dicker said, recalling the last time low-carb diet trends rocketed to the forefront of the American psyche before falling out of favor.
Hot categories that move from specialty to mass outlets may be caused by a trend that is sparked among a niche group that later catches fire among the masses, like a low-carb craze for example. But other elements of that transition can be credited to marketers getting savvy, Dicker said.
For example, before protein had become a hot commodity across mass outlets, it was a category that long enjoyed greater and greater growth from a small niche consumer base — professional or semiprofessional athletes and self-proclaimed gym rats. But now there is a significant consumer base that’s not included in the messaging that appeals to athletes and gym rats — the yoga mom.
“The sports nutrition consumer and the wellness product consumer [today] is blending together,” Dicker said. “It’s the ‘sportification’ of non-athletes,” he said. Previously, protein powders were positioned solely against young males as a way for them to bulk up before the big game. Now they’re targeting women with the same protein, repositioning the benefits so they’re more fitness-enthusiast friendly.
“A lot of wellness consumers are now buying a protein [ready to drink] or bar just as a healthy snack,” Dicker said. “They’re not necessarily using it for performance like core users are, they are expanding the category.”
And then there are categories that continue to generate escalating sales in both specialty outlets and mass retailers, with no end to that growth in sight. Take digestive aids and probiotics, for example, Dicker said. “Probiotics help with the absorption of nutrients,” he noted. It’s a trend that many sports nutrition enthusiasts are picking up on and could only be a matter of time before that benefit is touted at mass, as well.
(Click here to view the full Special Report: Weight management, sports nutrition and vitamin)
Sales in mass, food channels outpace drug
The combined one- and two-letter vitamins and vitamin, herbal and mineral supplement categories saw an all outlet (total U.S.) growth of 3% for the last 12 months versus the year-ago period, yet the food channel delivered gains of 4% while the drug channel lagged at 2%. Key drivers in drug were VHMS (up 3.4%), followed by one- and two-letter vitamins (up 2.7%). In the food channel, multivitamins gained just 2%, while both VHMS and one- and two-letter vitamins increased 4% and 5%, respectively. (Figure 1)
For leading manufacturers in the VHMS category, Pharmavite saw the highest percentage of sales on promotion in the drug channel, yet it remained flat in sales year over year. I-Health saw a much lower percent of sales on promotion (76%), yet posted more than 3% sales growth. Pharmavite also had the highest percentage of sales on promotion in one- and two-letter vitamins, and performed better with gains of 7% year over year in drug channel. (Figure 2)
Average margins for Nature’s Bounty were consistently highest in mass and food, but had only a four-point margin spread on average between mass and drug percentages. Pharmavite held a wider spread across channels, and Nature’s Bounty had lower average retail margins in drug. I-Health had the lowest percentage in mass with 29%. (Figure 3)
Nature’s Bounty appears to generate two times the number of circular ads versus rival Pharmavite in food in the one- and two-letter vitamins segment. Despite driving growth in this segment, i-Health has seen the least amount of promotional activity in feature ads across all three channels. (Figure 4)
To view the full Promo Watch report, complete with charts, click here.
VMS white space? Natrol introduces brain-boosting Cognium supplement
CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Natrol on Monday introduced a new supplement for brain health, Natrol Cognium. Backed by nine human clinical studies, the active ingredient in Natrol Cognium has shown statistically significant improvements in memory and cognition in as little as four weeks, Natrol reported.
“People take supplements to help take care of their hearts and digestion, so it only makes sense they would look for something to help improve their brain health," stated Mike Dow, product spokesman and author of “The Brain Fog Fix.” "In fact, brain health isn’t just something that’s on the mind of baby boomers, I get questions about it from people of all ages,” he said. “There are many things that people can do to improve their health and one of those things can be taking Natrol Cognium, which is safe, natural and stimulant-free.”
Natrol Cognium is formulated using a unique protein found in silk as its active ingredient. The protein works by energizing and protecting the brain and has been shown in clinical imaging to increase glucose, providing energy and nourishment for improved brain functioning. It also acts like an antioxidant for the brain, protecting it from free radicals and oxidation that cause aging.
“We’re proud to launch Natrol Cognium as our innovative way to tackle the issues surrounding brain health,” commented Tom Zimmerman, CEO Natrol. “From forgetting names of friends or colleagues to struggling for a word, we all have those moments where we could use something to keep our memory strong and our minds sharp. People can use Natrol Cognium to proactively manage and own their everyday health and help them face real issues they’re dealing with in their busy lifestyles as they age.”