HEALTH

TABS Group: Light VMS shoppers behind growth in mass outlets

BY Michael Johnsen

SHELTON, Conn. — Although the total of all online sales of vitamins, minerals and supplements continues to outstrip all specific brick and mortar outlets, Amazon and other online retailers saw a share drop in category sales for the first time in eight years according to a survey by the TABS Group. In the “Eighth Vitamin and Sports Nutrition Study,” TABS Group found VMS sales were up 3% versus 2014 levels, and were being driven by gains in mass market outlets particularly from Walmart, Costco and Rite Aid.  
 
TABS Group estimates the U.S. retail market size of VMS at $11.8 billion annually.
 
Online vitamin sales hit $1.9 billion surpassing Walmart’s sales of $1.7 billion in 2014, a slight increase over 2014. However, online’s share of occasions of the vitamin category dropped from 9.9 in 2014 to 9.7 in 2015, the first time online share has dropped since the inception of the TABS Group survey in 2005. Pure play online retailers (without brick and mortar stores) share surged to 80% of online sales versus 67% the last two years. Amazon alone had 36% of all online supplement sales.
 
“All online outlets saw declines with the primary cause being the drop in sales among heavy buyers. Amazon’s decline in share was much less pronounced since it draws a disproportionate amount of its sales from light buyers,” said Kurt Jetta, president TABS Group. “The decline in online share is the second sector TABS Group has tracked with the other being consumables. Given that vitamins is among the most highly developed online categories in the consumer packaged goods industry, this study adds an important data point that suggests online sales in CPG have peaked with the existing online shopping technology.”
 
The survey found that the growth in VMS is primarily being driven by gains in mass-market outlets with Walmart, Costco and Rite Aid leading the pack. These three mass market leaders combined to account for $3.4 billion in sales representing 29% of all vitamin sales. Mass market has recaptured lost share from 2014 due to the surge in light-buyer penetration.
 
According to the TABS Group, there are several reasons for this swing by consumers to buying via the mass market. These outlets are much more convenient and accessible than specialty outlets and the survey bears that out as it demonstrates that light buyers (defined as purchasing 1 to 2 types of vitamins) skew their purchases strongly to mass market outlets. The survey also points to some heavy buyers (defined as purchasing 3 to 5 types of vitamins) dropping down to being light buyers, and therefore more likely to shop at mass market outlets, because they stopped buying certain types of vitamins. 
 
But perhaps the most significant reason behind the VMS exodus from online to retail is retailer promotions. “The channel shift from online to mass market affirms the importance of retailer promotions in driving sales. If compelling deals are not available, many consumer just won’t buy.  Our investigation of online promotional practices suggests that online outlets are not competitive promotionally,” said Jetta.
 
Vitamin specialty, grocery and Sam’s outlets all saw a drop in share compared to 2014. Lower and less aggressive promotional activity was cited as a cause for sales softness among some specialty retailers in their public earnings announcements.
 
The survey revealed that 37% of adults 18 years and older have purchased sports nutrition products in the last year accounting for a $2.6 billion market. Twenty-five to 29 year old adults account for the highest category penetration rate at 63%, with a gradual drop off occurring in light buyers at age 30 and a sharp drop off at age 60. There is a sharp drop off of heavy buyers at age 40. Half of all purchases occur in mass market outlets.
 
The Sports Nutrition category has 50% more men heavy buyers than women heavy buyers and Hispanics are two times more likely to be heavy buyers than non-Hispanics. Among adults in the core 18-44 age group, 74% of Hispanics have purchased a sports nutrition product in the last year compared to 50% of non-Hispanics.  
 
“The results from the survey highlight that sports nutrition is a category deserving of more space and support in mass market outlets. With half of all sales already occurring there, that number has considerable upside, particularly given retailers focus on millennials,” explained Jetta. “Furthermore, unlike almost any other category of CPG, sports nutrition is an efficient way for retailers to appeal to Hispanics.”
 
The TABS Group Vitamin and Sports Nutrition study of 1,015 U.S. consumers geographically and demographically dispersed, was conducted in April 2015, and was designed to examine the types, frequency and outlets where VMS and sports nutrition products are purchased.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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NBTY launches mini-tab Osteo Bi-Flex EASE

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK, – NBTY on Wednesday introduced Osteo Bi-Flex EASE, a daily mini-tab that promotes joint comfort. One Osteo Bi-Flex EASE mini-tab a day supplies Vitamin D3, Joint Shield, an herbal ingredient that helps with occasional joint flare-ups and a natural source of collagen called UC-II that has been shown to improve joint comfort. 
 
"Osteo Bi-Flex EASE mini-tabs are 80% smaller than standard joint health supplements and are free of gluten and shellfish," said Osteo Bi-Flex senior brand manager Albert So. "With Osteo Bi-Flex EASE, we have designed a joint health supplement that is easy to take and provides the benefits of collagen UC-II with our proprietary Joint Shield to support mobility and comfort." 
 
Recent research shows that a daily 40mg dose of UC-II collagen, as represented in Osteo Bi-Flex EASE mini-tabs, can be effective in improving joint comfort.
 
"As we age, our bodies lose collagen and supplementation with this compound may become more important, as collagen is the main component of our connective tissue and plays an intricate role in joint health. The particular standardized form of type II collagen contained in Osteo Bi-Flex EASE has been shown to promote joint comfort," James Rippe, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, said.
 
A survey commissioned last year by Osteo Bi-Flex found that nearly seven in 10 Americans over 34 years of age experience occasional joint stiffness or other concerns. The survey also found that 62% of Gen Xers – now in their late 30s and 40s – are concerned about their joints.
 
"Supplementation can serve as an essential part of proper nutrition for your joints," Rippe said. "Blood supply to our joints is poor and it is often difficult to get joint health ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin and collagen in our diets."
 
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Ad Age: Exclusive vitamin brand Olly shaking things up at Target

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — In a story of what good merchandising can do to lift category sales, Target generated more than $1 million in sales over the first two weeks its exclusive vitamin brand Olly was on store shelves, Olly founder Eric Ryan told Ad Age in a report published Wednesday
 
The brand is exclusive to Target for one year, according to the report, though an e-commerce site pitching Olly will debut in June, Ad Age reported. The brand is built on its promise, which delivers experience over ingredients, for example, sleep vs. melatonin or beauty vs. biotin. 
 
Ryan drew on his experience revolutionizing the cleaning-products category through design. "I could not find a worse aisle in the store [than supplements] that was difficult to shop or had more uninspiring brands," Ryan told Ad Age. "Shoppers would literally stress out trying to find something healthy for them. It's just a sea of confusion."
 
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