Vitamin D explodes with product growth
The vitamin D category continues to grow. Category leader Nature Made from Pharmavite is on the cusp of launching a host of new products, including a Super D-Complex with magnesium, vitamin D chewable tablets and vitamin D with vitamin C and zinc.
“I think this is category growth that has been driven by the science,” said Doug Jones, Pharmavite’s corporate communications and public relations manager. “When you get a lot of the medical establishment behind it, you see long-term sustained growth of a category. And vitamin D has received lots of press. There’s widespread recognition that there’s a deficiency problem.”
John Hathcock, SVP scientific and international affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said that the information about vitamin D is permeating the public’s awareness because it’s so all-encompassing. “For well over 50 years and perhaps closer to 75, we’ve known that vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and thus [helps to] build healthy bones,” Hathcock said. “But it’s also been found to help reduce the risk of cancer, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other metabolic syndrome issues, [and] falls related to neuromuscular activity, [as well as] immune function and all the things that result from that.”
The numbers back up the science. Sales of vitamin D were up 49% for the 52 weeks ended April 16, down slightly from last December when sales were up 73%, according to Nielsen.
Despite Pharmavite having a plethora of vitamin D products, its best-seller remains its 1,000 IU product. Also, last year the company released a product with 5,000 IU, and two years ago it launched a 400-IU chewable vitamin D product for children.
Hathcock said he expected to see more vitamin D supplements on the market — from multivitamins with vitamin D to vitamin D and calcium tablets. But with a marketplace as full as it is with new vitamin D products, how does Pharmavite ensure its products stand out? The company participates in the dietary supplement program from the United States Pharmacopeia, a scientific not-for-profit organization that has set pharmaceutical quality standards since 1820 and bears the USP’s stamp on many of its products, with more constantly being added.
ReportersNotebook — Over the Counter, 7/11/11
SUPPLIER NEWS — A survey for Vitamin Shoppe found that 60% of Americans currently take a vitamin or supplement. Of those who take vitamins, more than 70% of respondents said they feel more confident about their health when they are taking a vitamin. Multivitamins are the most popular supplements, with 75% of respondents taking a multivitamin regularly. Other top supplements by those who take vitamins were: vitamin D (52%), vitamin C (49%), calcium (45%), B vitamins (43%), fish oil (42%) and iron (25%).
Starting on a vitamin regimen was not an impulse decision. Almost half began taking a vitamin based on the recommendation of a healthcare professional. Only 38% of parents take a daily vitamin, compared to 56% of adults without children. Only 34% of kids are given a daily vitamin. For those that do not take supplements, 43% feel they do not need vitamins with a balanced diet, 22% think they would never remember to take them and others feel vitamins are too expensive (9%).
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Vitamin Shoppe, and polled 1,000 U.S. adults on their vitamin and supplement habits.
New niches fuel multivitamins
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 OneADay.com, 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.”