Sports nutrition and beauty-from-within are two categories driving big growth for The Vitamin Shoppe. In the retailer’s new “The Vitamin Shoppe Health & Wellness Trend Report 2022,” the company discussed which product types saw growing sales in 2021 and which saw slowing sales.
Looking at last year’s predominant trends is critical, the report notes, adding that “the health and wellness industry must continuously evolve to meet the changing consumer needs of an innovation-driven marketplace. This has been particularly true during the unpredictable years of the COVID pandemic, which have inflicted considerable impacts on consumers’ health, psychology, and social environments. Analyzing the wellness trends that are most sought-after by consumers will help keep this industry — and, more importantly, our customers — healthy and strong. ”
Sports and Beauty
“Sports nutrition at The Vitamin Shoppe had its best year in 2021 since 2016,” said Jack Gayton, lead merchant for The Vitamin Shoppe’s sports nutrition and weight management division, in the report. “We saw a clear acceleration in all of our key categories as customers began to refocus on their fitness, following the sluggish period of many of us had during the height of the pandemic.”
The report states that sales of key sports nutrition products, such as proteins and pre- and postworkout supplements, “soared” in 2021 over 2020, with growth in the double digits. Preworkout supplements led the sales growth at 56%, followed by postworkout supplements at 46% and protein powder at 25%.
According to the report, “The sports nutrition category is experiencing an extremely strong growth trend. Its user base is diversifying, bringing in more women and older consumers, and sports nutrition products are increasingly adopted for health benefits that stretch beyond traditional gym and athletic performance usage. ”
Beauty-from-within was also a strong performer for The Vitamin Shoppe in 2021, with sales of supplements for hair, skin, and nail health growing 12% last year. Within that category, collagen products sales grew impressively at 21% in 2021.
Consumers Also Want Protein, Ready-to-Drink, Immunity, and Mental Health Products
The Vitamin Shoppe customers are also showing active interest in the protein (plant and non-plant), ready-to-drink beverage, immune health, and mental health categories, the retailer reports.
Based on a recent retailer consumer survey, 62% of respondents said they are actively looking to increase their protein consumption, while 43% they already consume protein powders, drinks, and bars.
Plant protein — and plant-based wellness products overall — are also trending healthily and have “hit the mainstream,” the report states. Plant-protein products saw 10.5% year-on-year sales growth in 2021 at The Vitamin Shoppe. The company’s consumer survey showed that many respondents believe plant-based products and ingredients are healthier for consumers and the planet.
“Our plant-based proteins have become incredibly popular in the last three years,” Gayton said in the report. “While we’ve long had a dedicated following of consumers seeking out plant-based products, we’re starting to see a lot more mainstream crossover. For example, many whey protein consumers are now opting to buy plant proteins — whether they’re simply adding it to their existing regimen or looking to switch outright to a more plant-based approach to their diet. ”
The report adds that according to the survey, “In fact, when two products are identical in every other way (including their quality, size, and cost), a sizeable percentage of consumers prefer the plant-based option to its non-plant- based counterpart. Interestingly, this is even more true for vitamins and supplements, skin care, cosmetics, and household products than it is for food and beverage products. ”
Innovative ready-to-drink beverages are also a big growth area for The Vitamin Shoppe. “The Vitamin Shoppe sports nutrition ready-to-drink category exploded in 2021 (up 51.2%), driven by the launch of new brands, new products, and new consumer demand,” the report states.
Immune health and mental health are also still of great interest to consumers. Immune-support vitamin and supplement sales “skyrocketed” in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic, the report notes. The report also states that searches for immune support on The Vitamin Shoppe’s website grew 480% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic in 2019. “Immunity will continue to be a hot-button issue as long as new variants of the coronavirus keep appearing,” said Leigha Gray, lead merchant for The Vitamin Shoppe’s vitamins and supplements division, in the report. “People are definitely reaching for the more well-known immunity-supporting supplements, but they’re also seeking out ingredients like N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and the flavanol quercetin plant to use as part of their daily regimen.”
Consumer interest in supplements to support cognition, motivation, and mood is also high, the report states.
Keto and Decline
On category seeing slowing performance at The Vitamin Shoppe is ketogenic products. “The keto category declined over 50% at The Vitamin Shoppe from 2019 to 2021,” the report says, “signaling waning popularity for the once red-hot diet regimen and a shift to less-restrictive weight-management approaches.”
Social Media Influence
Finally, the report highlights the growing influence of social media platforms like TikTok on the retailer’s supplement consumers.
One of the products at The Vitamin Shoppe that saw a recent boost driven by social media is liquid chlorophyll, which was hyped last year by several TikTok influencers. “In just one week, these TikTok videos drove a 3500% increase in searches on vitaminshoppe.com and a 500% increase in sales of liquid chlorophyll, causing many locations to sell out of the product in days. Consumers who were unable to find chlorophyll set their sights on alternatives like spirulina and chlorella, products that both contain a fair amount of the compound. ”
Another example is creatine, which the report says “has enjoyed an explosion in sales volume thanks to its popularity on TikTok and Instagram.” Sales of creatine at The Vitamin Shoppe grew 91.4% in 2021 over 2020, the report notes, with growing representation from female consumers.
A final example is vitamin K cream, which hit the spotlight in April 2021 with a TikTok video claiming the product can help reduce dark undereye circles. The company notes that “sales at The Vitamin Shoppe stores spiked, with growth rates in the triple digits.”
The company continues to track the power of social media influence on its customers, noting that “42% of Americans say they’re highly likely to try a new healthcare product if they learn about it on social media, with Millennials and Gen Zers being two times more likely than older generations to be influenced by social media. ”