EMMAUS, Pa. -- After word-of-mouth recommendations, consumers frequently rely on magazines and books to learn about vitamins and supplements, according to a telephone survey conducted by Prevention Magazine here.
More than half of the 2,000 adults surveyed said they learn about dietary supplements from friends and relatives, Edwin Slaughter, the publication's director of market research, told SN. Forty-six percent consult magazines, product labels, ads and physicians for information about these products.
The findings of the study were presented last month during the Consumer Healthcare Products Association's Symposium on Dietary Supplements for Self Care in Arlington, Va.
"In the case of vitamins and minerals, essentially interpersonal sources and product labels were in a dead heat for first place for where people go for information," Slaughter said. "Magazines accounted for 46%; doctors, 44%; books, 43%; advertising, 42%; and pharmacists, 32%." He also said that although the Internet is one of the last places people go for this type of information due to a lack of access for all socio-economic levels, true nationwide access could become available as computer price points drop.
In the survey, conducted with Princeton-based Princeton Survey Research Associates in May, 57% of the respondents said they use vitamins or minerals daily and 79% said occasionally. Some 49% noted using herbal remedies during the past 12 months, and 24% indicated they regularly used herbals.
Slaughter said other Prevention Magazine research shows food shoppers actively seek information about dietary supplements in a supermarket.
But, although a pharmacy "is one of the first places [people] go with questions about OTC products, the pharmacist, for whatever reason, isn't recognized as a source of information for dietary supplements," he said.
Because the category comes under the heading of self-treatment, consumers are confident in searching out data about dietary supplements themselves, said Slaughter. Supermarkets with whole-health magazine and book sets in their natural and organic food and health and beauty care departments can become the source of information for dietary-product consumers, he said.
"Certainly the grocery store is in a very strong position for the emergence of self care. And one of the leverage points for a grocery store is to become, in a sense, a destination shop for self care," the publisher asserted.
He added that whole-health books and magazines in a supermarket help address the questions consumers have about "how do I use these products and how do they fit into my self-treatment?"