Did you take your vitamins today? If you did, you’re one of the 68% of Americans who take at least one nutritional supplement every day. According to Nielsen data, the typical vitamin shopper spends over $7,500 per year in retail stores — that is twice as much as the average shopper.
When the vitamin shopper has vitamins and mineral supplements (VMS) in her basket, she spends nearly $15 on VMS alone. This amounts to about $11.5 billion annually in VMS purchases, with a projected growth of 6%. That growth projection is being driven by a combination of additional buyers to the category and increased spending for those purchasing dietary supplements.
For supermarkets in particular, the VMS category represents a singular opportunity to become a destination for shoppers looking for vitamin and mineral products. Currently, the VMS category is the largest HBC category in dollar sales, with an average purchase trip worth $90 when vitamins are in the basket. Couple that with a repeat purchase rate of 81 percent, and it is clear there are good reasons to make the VMS category a strategic focus.
Based on research into shopper behavior we’ve conducted at Vestcom, VMS shoppers fall into three broad categories:
- Drug/Grocery Shopper. Driven by convenience and doctor recommendations, this is a minimally engaged consumer who uses the supermarket as a primary source and relies upon information at the shelf to help make decisions. This group is predominantly Baby Boomers and college-educated.
- Vitamin/Health Shopper. This is a more engaged shopper who seeks online information and buys a wide range of supplements. This shopper is looking for any and all information from any reliable source. They are likely to have an advanced degree, and much of this group is in the Millennial generation. They will shop in both supermarkets and drug stores, as well as online or in specialty stores.
- Online Shopper. This is an older shopper group, with most over 55 years of age and generally high school-educated. These shoppers are motivated primarily by price and convenience, and they are more likely to shop in multiple channels based on those factors.
The opportunity for supermarkets is hard to ignore. Eighty percent of respondents in a 2012 Vestcom survey — including a portion of all three shopper segments outlined above — have made some VMS category purchases in a food or drug store. In other words, even those who buy online or in specialty stores will also buy in a food or drug store. The determining factor appears to be the level of information provided to shoppers. This might be in the form of shelf edge information, employees or other in-store materials that help to make the purchase decision easier for the shopper.
Making the VMS category a destination by providing more information and an expanded selection of products, along with promotional incentives, can be a quick win for any store willing to make the effort. The current consumer interest in healthful eating and informed use of dietary supplements is likely to grow for several years. Shoppers are looking for advice and new information, and the store making an effort to provide this will be rewarded with repeat business — and not just for the VMS category.