Historically, and demonstrated in the 2020 CRN Consumer Survey usage data, vitamins and minerals are the most widely used supplement category, with the multivitamin as the most popular ingredient across all demographics. Nearly 10 years ago in 2011, 69% of Americans reported taking dietary supplements. And of those supplement users, 97% cited taking products in the vitamins and minerals category, with 71% reporting use of the multivitamin.
Advance to 2020 and three quarters of Americans report taking dietary supplements. Nearly all supplement users (98%) cite taking vitamins and minerals and 74% of users take a multivitamin. While modest increases, this sustained and steady usage of vitamins and minerals demonstrates how consumers have come to rely on these supplement products to support their health and well-being.
A Decade of Development
It isn’t only the multivitamin that has demonstrated growth or sustained usage over the last decade. Usage of vitamin D is up from 2019 and has increased by 10 percentage points over the last 10 years (32% vs. 42% in 2020). Additionally, zinc usage is up 7 percentage points (8% vs. 15% in 2020) and usage of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, and vitamin C have all increased over the past decade.
Ingredients outside the vitamins and minerals category that have grown in popularity and, more significantly, have sustained usage include protein, probiotics, melatonin, and green tea, among others. Many ingredients were not even included in the survey 10 years ago and are now survey staples like turmeric, vitamin K, and choline, which continue to show slow and steady growth each year.
Consumer attitudes about supplements have also remained similar over the last decade. The majority of supplement users continue to report confidence in the industry, as they did 10 years ago, with nine in 10 supplement users reporting confidence in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of supplements overall in 2020. Supplement users also continue to report healthier habits vs. non-users in categories like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep.
One aspect of consumer attitudes that have changed over the years is brand loyalty for dietary supplements. Brand loyalty has increased by 12 percentage points from 2011 (57% vs. 69% in 2020) and is the highest it has ever been with overall supplement users. Men, those in the top income bracket, those living in urban areas, and those with children living at home are among the most likely to be loyal to their brand of supplements.
This vibrancy of the supplement marketplace over the past decade shows that despite challenges—whether it was a past recession or an ongoing global pandemic—the supplement industry remains a thriving one through consistent usage and consumer confidence and trust.
The COVID Factor
Currently, we’re witnessing this steadfast consumer usage of supplements throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways. To start, noteworthy market data highlights the increased sales of supplements during the health crisis largely for traditional vitamin and mineral ingredients, like the multivitamin, vitamin D, and vitamin C, but also for other products like zinc, melatonin, probiotics, and elderberry.
CRN’s COVID-19 survey also revealed a subset of supplement users are increasing their supplement regimen. Data showed ingredient boosts across the board with the highest ingredient intake increases of the multivitamin (59%), vitamin C (44%), vitamin D (37%), and zinc (17%). COVID-19 data also showed notable usage increases for ingredients like probiotics, elderberry, and protein.
Similar to what we’re seeing from market data and COVID-19 data, results of CRN’s 2020 survey signal a higher priority for traditional supplement ingredients to support overall health and wellness and immune health. Data showed that approximately three quarters of Americans continue to take supplements in 2020 with strongest usage among vitamins and minerals especially for ingredients like the multivitamin, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. This unquestionable growth, sustained usage, and consumer confidence of dietary supplements demonstrates the important role these products play in the lives of consumers.
Decades of usage data can teach us a lot about consumers, not just by looking at the growth of ingredients, but also by looking at what ingredients have sustained usage—the products consumers are choosing to take year after year. And following a unique year like 2020, as consumers are more focused on their health and seeking solutions to support overall health and wellness, it’s critical that industry remains focused on solutions to help consumers get the nutrients they need and have access to reliable information about the responsible role supplementation plays in everyday life.
About the Author: Brian Wommack is Senior Vice President, Communications for CRN. He is responsible for overseeing the development and execution of the association’s overall strategic communications efforts, and entrusted to enhance and protect the reputation of the dietary supplement industry. Conducted annually since 2000, the CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements has served as the leading resource for statistics on usage of dietary supplements. The 2020 survey was fielded Aug. 27-31, 2020, by Ipsos, and was funded by CRN. For more information, visit www.crnusa.org.