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Vitamin sales drop online, rebound at brick-and-mortar retailers

BY Michael Johnsen

Vitamins have made a comeback. The category was in a major lull, according to Kurt Jetta, CEO of TABS Group, but has since rebounded to historical growth rates of between 5% and 7% in brick-and-mortar stores.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

A lot of that has to do with the fact that many of the broad-based players — Pharmavite, Nature’s Bounty and Natrol — have started promoting heavily again and are driving incremental purchases.

And brick-and-mortar outlets are gaining ground on online VMS vendors, according to TABS Group’s Eighth Vitamin and Sports Nutrition Study released earlier this year. Although the total of all online VMS sales continue 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.

TABS Group found overall 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.

According to the TABS Group, there are several reasons for consumers to gravitate toward mass market outlets for their vitamin purchase. First, these outlets are much more convenient and accessible than specialty outlets. The survey also points to some heavy buyers (defined as purchasing three to five types of vitamins) dropping down to being light buyers (defined as purchasing one to two types of vitamins), who are more likely to shop at mass market outlets.

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Success is ‘in the cards’

BY Rob Eder

This (see photo) was the very first card my wife and I received this holiday season. If you can’t make out the signatures, it’s handwritten from Chewy.com co-founders Ryan Cohen and Michael Day.

In fairness, we spend a good amount on Chewy.com; our rapidly growing baby bulldog Spanky goes through a lot of kibble, and who wants to haul 50-pound bags of dog food in Manhattan?

But Chewy is a great example of the kinds of companies we feature in this issue. It was founded a few years ago with the initial goal of selling pet food online and using the proceeds to help fund animal shelters, and it has since exploded, with 2014 sales of about $200 million and a recent influx of venture capital. One of the reasons Chewy is winning is that it continues to stay true to its roots.

This is the second time we have received a handwritten note from Chewy. The first time was about one year ago; they sent us a sympathy card when we lost our 12-year-old bulldog Petey last December. They also credited our last order and told us to donate any of the unused food to an animal shelter or a pet hospital in our area.

Nine-of-10 consumers say it’s important that what a brand stands for aligns with their own values. Companies like Chewy, and the many others featured in this issue, get that.

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Retailers connect through giving

BY Michael Johnsen

 

CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo and CFO Dave Denton

Every day retailers leverage their strong neighborhood bonds to feed some mighty and noble causes. Here are some — but not all — of our current favorites.

(To view the full Special Report, click here.)

Walgreens: Red Nose Day

Walgreens Boots Alliance, in partnership with NBC, brought over a U.K. tradition in 2015 with Red Nose Day, which supports nonprofit organizations that help lift children out of poverty. Walgreens sold red noses for $1 in the weeks leading up to NBC’s televised fundraising event. The three-hour benefit helped raise more than $21 million for the cause, more than one-third of which came out of the Walgreens partnership. “We really exceeded all of the goals that we put forth for the organization,” said Linn Jordan, Walgreens Boots Alliance director marketing, strategy and planning. “We want to carry forward the momentum that we’ve accomplished with Red Nose Day into other initiatives … that we celebrate and support as a part of our overall purpose.”

CVS Health: Stand Up To Cancer

CVS Health supports Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program founded by the Entertainment Industry Foundation that supports innovative cancer research. In September, CVS Health and SU2C introduced the public service campaign, “It’s Impossible to Beat Cancer Alone,” to raise awareness on the importance of collaboration. That awareness effort was followed by CVS Health’s second annual in-store fundraising campaign, which is part of a three-year, $10 million commitment. “We’re so proud to collaborate with Stand Up To Cancer to positively impact people living with cancer,” said Helena Foulkes, president, CVS/pharmacy. “Join- ing our colleagues and customers in supporting this groundbreaking research is a great extension of CVS Health’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

Rite Aid: KidCents

The biggest outreach of Rite Aid’s philanthropic arm is KidCents, which supports nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children. Rite Aid loyalty card holders have the ability to designate specific charities to give their change to on Kidcents.com. Most recently, the Rite Aid Foundation donated $1.3 million to Folds of Honor, an organization dedicated to providing educational scholarships to children of fallen or disabled veterans. “KidCents is really the umbrella that we’re hanging everything on,” said Ken Martindale, CEO Rite Aid Stores and president Rite Aid Corp. “Everything we’re doing, we’re trying to bring it down to the local community that we operate in.”

Walmart: Greenlight a Vet

Walmart most recently launched Greenlight a Vet, which includes a promise by Walmart to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020. In addition, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have pledged $20 million in grants to organizations that provide veteran job training, education and community-based collaboration. “Through continued, collaborative work with our nonprofit partners, we greenlight innovative public and private community-based initiatives that address the navigation challenges many of our veterans face when returning to the civilian workforce and their communities,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation was established in 1993 in honor of co-founder J.L. Turner, who was functionally illiterate. Since then, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $100 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and schools that have helped more than 6 million individuals learn to read, prepare for the high school equivalency test or learn the English language.

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