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Just the Numbers: An Investigation of Health and Wellness Shopper Habits

Published August 1, 2023
Published August 1, 2023
The Vitamin Shoppe

The change that COVID-19 implemented in our everyday lives has been widely discussed and investigated since the pandemic began in 2020. One of the most significant trends to  emerge has been the increase in attention consumers are paying to improve their health. According to The Vitamin Shoppe, 59% of Americans say they are more proactively engaged with managing their health than in pre pandemic years. The retailer’s 2023 Health & Wellness Trend Report outlined five trends in the vitamin and wellness market. BeautyMatter explores the key findings:

Evolving Energy Drinks

In the first four months of 2023, energy drinks saw a sales increase of 40%, following a 12% gain in 2022. The research found that consumers turn to energy drinks for various reasons:

  • 55% to stay alert/focused
  • 55% for exercise/workouts
  • 52% because they enjoy the taste
  • 40% to feel more awake
  • 16% for recreation/entertainment

On The Vitamin Shoppe's website, searches for energy drinks increased by 20% from March 2022 to March 2023 compared to the previous year's figures. The report states that this increase can be attributed to the growth of celebrities and sportspeople who launched energy drinks in recent years. Notable examples include four-time Mr. Olympia Classic Physique Champion Chris Bumstead's BUM Energy, musician Jack Harlow's PHOCUS, and Youtuber/boxers Logan Paul and KSI's Prime Energy. The Vitamin Shoppe's research found that 21% of consumers turn to social media and influencers as their primary source of information about health and wellness trends (taking second spot to health and wellness professionals at 24%), making them more likely to be interested in the aforementioned brands.

The popularity of celebrity energy drinks, specifically Prime Energy, has led to an increase in sales to a younger demographic, with 25% of The Vitamin Shoppe's new customers ages between 19 and 30. Nadina Guglielmetti, Chief Customer Officer at The Vitamin Shoppe, also noted an increase in female consumers, which she attributes to mothers purchasing energy drinks like Prime Energy for their children who would likely be fans of the popular influencers behind the brand.

"Since 2021, we've had over 20 high-profile launches from major brands in the energy drink category, including Prime Energy, which was our top new launch of 2022 and will more than double sales in 2023," adds Jack Gayton, The Vitamin Shoppe's Divisional Vice President of Merchandising.

The report also highlights innovation in the energy drink category that has led to an increase in demand. New formulas and ingredients are changing the way energy drinks are traditionally made, now including adaptogens and functional ingredients such as vitamin D2 to help bone development, mushrooms to boost the immune system, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to improve cognition and focus, ashwagandha to increase energy, and L-theanine to enhance focus. Consumers are learning more about these ingredients through celebrity endorsements and partnerships, as showcased by Jack Harlow's Phocus that markets itself as including L-theanine to help the songwriter focus when creating a new track. The rise of Gen Z energy drink consumers due to celebrity brands is yet another example of the influence and spending power Gen Z has when marketing is done correctly and the generation feels their demands have been met.

Hunting for Hydration

Fifty-seven percent of consumers state that they are actively engaged in staying properly hydrated daily as evidenced by the increase in searches for hydration products by over 200% last year on The Vitamin Shoppe's website. However, the demand is for hydration beyond standard water. Consumers are now seeking refreshment through flavor-infused, functional hydration products—both in ready-to-drink formats as well as powders, tablets, and stick packs.

The Vitamin Shoppe decided to create a new hydration merchandising concept, placing the products at the front of the store and bringing more attention to the category, which is expected to grow by 140% in the upcoming year. The report states that the best-selling brands in the category include Bare Performance Nutrition, True Athlete, BodyTech, and Ghost. Products breaking through the noise in the space include Liquid I.V. packets that are believed to send hydration to the bloodstream faster than water alone; Liquid Labs packets said to provide 3x more electrolytes and 10x less sugar than leading sports drinks; and electrolyte tablets that help to rehydrate the body by replacing the salt, potassium, and magnesium lost through sweat.

The report states this growing interest is once again partially due to celebrity innovation in the category, with KSI and Logan Paul's Prime Hydration paving the way with its bold packaging, interesting flavors, and strong social media presence. The duo's hydration products (non-fizzy drinks) landed before Prime Energy and sold out almost instantly—resulting in  a resale phenomenon with consumers reportedly prepared to pay over $1,000 for a pack that would initially retail for $3 per piece. According to the report, it is once again the younger consumer who is responsible for 60% of the sales and driving a sharp sales increase in the hydration category.

The report also highlights a shift in the consumer base of hydration products, which was once traditionally athletes but has now expanded to the everyday consumer. Prime Hydration stayed true to the original methods of hydration products while still appealing to the younger fan-based consumer, and is currently an official partner of Arsenal Football Club and Barcelona Football Club. Collaborations such as these further promote the product; this time to football fans who want to support their team and consume the same products as their favorite sports players.

Finding Fitness

Consumers have shaken off the sluggishness of being stuck indoors and are now out and active again, making the sports nutrition category the strongest area of growth at The Vitamin Shoppe during the past year. Product categories such as proteins, preworkouts, and creatine now comprise most of the sales. In tandem, there has also been an increased focus on overall body health, with the addition of supergreen powders, nootropics for brain health, stress support formulas, immunity products, and multivitamins to consumers' supplement routines

According to the report, brands known for their proteins and preworkout powders have now begun expanding their offerings to include more holistic health products to meet this demand. This cross-pollination of brands and product categories led to The Vitamin Shoppe's next merchandising concept—Fit Lifestyle—which took place at the end of 2022.  The concept put whole-body wellness products from sports nutrition brands into a cohesive display and included offerings from brands including Jocko Greens superfood, BodyTech Greens + Reds superfood and digestion support, Kaged Mindset nootropics, Optimum Nutrition multivitamins, and Redcon1 Foxtrot Joint Support. The merchandising tactic was a success and led to a 40% increase of The Vitamin Shoppe's initial sales forecast, as well as  a 240% increase in searches for "fit lifestyle" on its website. Green superfoods were the biggest seller in this category, accounting for almost half of sales.

"As part of the rapid growth in our sports nutrition business, we knew this customer was also focused on whole-body wellness. Fit Lifestyle is about complementing primary sports nutrition categories with categories that promote balance, recovery, and overall well-being—and what's best is it's with products from the same brands the sports nutrition customer knows and trusts. Our goal is to keep this customer thriving, in and out of the gym," says Brian Hoke, Chief Merchandising Officer of The Vitamin Shoppe.

Convincing Benefits of Creatine

The chemical compound creatine has seen the largest increase in popularity within the supplement category. The compound is a lifelong favorite of athletes due to its proven muscle-building benefit and has now become popular with a new demographic of consumers thanks to social media. Creatine has been one of the fastest-growing retail products in the past year at The Vitamin Shoppe, with a 160% sales increase in 2022, and a further 23% growth from January to April 2023. Growth in the category has also resulted in the compound becoming more widely available in various formulas and formats, including:

  • Creatine monohydrate—the most studied form of creatine made of creatine and water molecules; this formula best resembles the natural form of creatine synthesized by the body
  • Micronized creatine—also a creatine molecule and water, however, 20x smaller than creatine monohydrate, which increases its solubility and absorption 
  • Creatine hydrochloride—the most absorbable and soluble form of creatine, however still fairly new and not as thoroughly studied as other variants
  • Kre-Alkalyn—a buffered form of creatine with an improved pH, which increases the compound's bioavailability and stability while minimizing the effects of digestive distress. 

The creatine category's top sellers were BodyTech Creatine Monohydrate powder and BodyTech Creatine Monohydrate capsules. The report highlights a growth in women consumers of creatine, as well as older demographics and even vegans who are not typically known to consume creatine-rich foods. This increase is likely due to improved research on the compound, which has proven that it can support a range of benefits—from healthy aging and combating muscle loss to supporting brain function and memory. On TikTok, the search term "creatine" has over 3 billion views, with some of the most viewed content coming from women creators highlighting the benefits of maintaining bone and muscle health when combined with resistance training during and after menopause.

Making Use of Magnesium

TikTok has also helped to boost the popularity of magnesium supplements (of which the search term currently has over 800 million views on the app) by showcasing its health benefits and educating consumers. Magnesium sales grew 25% at The Vitamin Shoppe within the first four months of 2023. "The benefits of proper magnesium levels are manifold, as it plays a role in over 300 bodily processes, including blood pressure and blood sugar management, protein synthesis, nerve function, and immune support, explains Brittany Michels, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at The Vitamin Shoppe.

The element is also known as the "mood mineral" due to its ability to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by positively influencing serotonin levels. The report outlines that magnesium's muscle and mind-effective capabilities are often used in nighttime routines, with 48% of consumers stating that magnesium is their first choice of sleep aid. Magnesium glycinate has seen a 59% increase in sales from 2022 to 2023 due to its stress and sleep-supporting benefits. According to the report, indie brands account for nearly half of all magnesium sales at The Vitamin Shoppe, unlike energy drinks and hydration products, as consumers seek value over brand name. Sleep and rest as an overall trend have also risen since prepandemic times because 47% of consumers prioritize sleep more compared to 24% who prioritize sleep less. 

Health as a Business Opportunity

Ultimately, the report shows that consumers of all ages are now beginning to prioritize their health. Whether this be the younger generation influenced by their celebrity idols, those heading back to the gym after a pandemic-induced hiatus, or older consumers wishing to enhance their health. The business opportunity for brands that provide these products is larger than ever, with the market expected to be worth 8,945.3 billion by 2032. However, for businesses already in the space, this could mean adapting and offering the latest sought after SKUs, as well as keeping up with the latest ingredient trends and emerging marketing focal points. For those businesses wishing to enter the market, the correct research is necessary, which no longer seems to be a strenuous task due to the increase in studies and information that is available daily. As new trends evolve each day, it will be interesting to keep tabs on the health and wellness market for the rest of 2023 as more businesses enter the space and attempt to make their mark.


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