Lifestyle trends from the food and beverage industry are increasingly influencing the nutritional supplements market. From clean label to the shift towards vegetarian and vegan diets, movements that originated in the food and drink sector are constantly evolving. As such, food supplement manufacturers must adapt their offerings to stay on top of increasingly sophisticated consumer preferences and provide supplements that will appeal to an increasingly demanding audience.
What does this mean for the nutritional supplements industry?
With the market now more competitive than ever, food supplement manufacturers can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach when creating new product concepts. To achieve success and deliver effective food supplements that resonate well with the relevant target audiences, it is vital that manufacturers understand the behaviours and buying habits of the different regional and generational demographics.
The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) conducted a survey into consumer behaviour, to provide greater insights into the global supplements market. The study, which included interviewing 3,000 supplement users from France, Italy and Germany, found a blurring of lines between the mainstream food and supplement industries, as well as a promising market opportunity for food supplement manufacturers. Across all the age ranges surveyed, including boomers (those born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s); Gen X (those born between the mid-1960s and early-1980s); and millennials (those born between 1982 and the early 2000s), there is consistent consumption, showing that supplements appeal to both younger and older generations.
Trends watch: what should manufacturers look out for?
One of the key trends shaping the future of the nutraceuticals industry is the rising demand for clean label products. Now a standard for many supplement manufacturers, the clean label movement has driven the increased demand for simple and ‘natural’ ingredients that are easily recognized by the consumer. For instance, 61 percent of those who took part in the European NMI research are concerned about whether the food supplements they take are derived from natural sources. As well as this focus on natural, the research indicates that no preservative (71 percent) and non-GMO (65 percent) are also compelling label claims for shoppers deciding which supplements to purchase.
Running parallel to the popularity of clean label, there has also been an increase in the number of products featuring a vegetarian or vegan positioning. A growing lifestyle trend within the food and beverage markets, such claims are increasingly influencing supplement purchasing decisions. The NMI data demonstrates that 46 percent of those surveyed did not want their supplements to be made using animal products, with this most prevalent among baby boomers. In addition, it is important to take regional differences into account. For instance, consumers in Italy and France are most likely to pay more for organic ingredients or plant-based ingredients in supplements, treating it as a premium purchase. Capsugel offers a broad range of vegetarian capsules to help manufacturers meet this need, including hypromellose (HPMC) based Vcaps®, Vcaps® Plus, DRcaps®, and pullulan-based Plantcaps® capsules. This plant-based portfolio also helps in facilitating manufacturers’ clean label claims, in line with the latest consumer preferences. For instance, Vcaps Plus capsules are approved for use with organic ingredients, enabling shelf-ready products to be labelled as organic.
Finally, the NMI data shows a significant focus on traceability and provenance—driven in part by a number of high-profile allergy scandals and product recalls. In fact, unquestionable product safety (86 percent) was highlighted as the biggest purchasing influencer for the NMI respondents, with 81 percent of participants across the three countries also ranking knowing the source of ingredients as a major cause for concern. Boomers are leading the trend, with this generation most concerned with both the safety of supplements and the integrity of the supply chain.
The market opportunity: supplements that support overall wellness
To complement their everyday diets and improve overall health, consumers are increasingly recognising the value of nutritional supplements. From maintaining an active lifestyle to addressing specific health concerns, Europeans of all ages recognize the proactive and preventative value of nutritional supplements; however, the NMI data shows that older generations remain a key market in the supplements category. With healthy ageing and bone and joint health key concerns for baby boomers, ingredients such as vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and krill oil are increasingly being used to manage specific health conditions. By understanding the preferences of each demographic, supplement manufacturers can develop more targeted products with real consumer appeal.
Functionality and high performance remain important for consumers, offering supplement manufacturers the opportunity to differentiate their offer and stand out on the shelf. Consequently, we’re seeing increasing numbers of manufacturers approaching us for different delivery systems. To serve this growing need for innovative solutions, Capsugel has created a diverse portfolio of encapsulation innovations, to enhance the functionality of ingredients. With more and more manufacturers keen to explore ways of combining previously incompatible ingredients to maximize health benefits, Capsugel’s DUOCAP® capsule-in-capsule technology is one solution that meets this need. A two-in-one capsule, DUOCAP can house liquid and solid formulations and has recently been used to deliver a unique bone and cardiovascular health dietary supplement that combines vitamin K2, omega-3 and magnesium into one single daily dose, for consumer convenience. In addition to its capsule solutions, Capsugel has also introduced a new innovation – its Lipid-Multiparticulates (LMP) technology. Specifically designed to improve the performance of nutritional actives, LMP technology also masks any unpleasant taste or odours.
Next steps for supplement manufacturers
The good news for any supplement manufacturers that have not yet explored new delivery formats, but are open to doing so, is that there are now more solutions than ever available. The NMI data highlights the continuing influences of mainstream lifestyle trends on the supplements industry and manufacturers need to adapt if they are to establish or maintain a strong market position. The latest advances in dosage form solutions present the perfect opportunity to innovate and expand their product portfolio through delivering high-quality nutritional supplements in line with top consumer lifestyle preferences.