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The Pandemic Vitamin Boom: Is It Here to Stay?

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By NCS Marketing

If grocery shopping habits during the pandemic could be defined in two words, they would be: comfort and indulgence. While sales of health-focused categories saw significant sales growth since the start of the pandemic (collectively growing 24%), sales of indulgent foods like boxed dinners (28%), baked goods (41%) and pizza kits (50%) really took the cake. Now, almost halfway through 2021, the health and wellness trend that was sweeping the nation before the pandemic is back in full force. 

Like many categories, sales for vitamins and supplements remained elevated—growing 22% in the first year of the pandemic, and 5% year-over-year in April 2021. But unlike many center-store categories that are creeping back toward pre-pandemic numbers, sales in this category have continued to grow. With summer being a typical high-sales season for many categories associated with a healthy lifestyle, we expect that vitamins and supplements in particular will continue to experience elevated sales over the next several months. When we surveyed U.S. consumers this past March, more than half said they must always have a supply of vitamins and supplements in their home. 

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Why do we expect consumers to continue to invest in vitamins? Vitamin sales typically peak at the start of the year with health-related New Year's resolutions. This January, the sales peak was 25% greater than the January 2019 peak and 18% greater than the January 2020 peak. Over the course of 2020 vitamins grew at a steeper growth rate than overall CPG, and with elevated sales this past March and April, we expect the category to gain momentum as we approach summer. 

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The sustained interest level in this category is particularly notable in light of overall waning CPG industry sales. As consumers seek respite and rest after a year full of anxiety, they will continue to look to supplements that have mental and physical health benefits. The fact that many can pronounce Ashwagandha is a prime example. And, physical immunity will remain a top priority. Big CPG players like Nestlé are even trying to get into the game, with talks about an acquisition of the company that manufactures Nature’s Bounty, a leading vitamin brand. The number of direct-to-consumer brands (how many Instagram ads for Ritual vitamins have you received this week?) that have popped up are yet another indication that the trend is expected to stick around. 

If you’re a brand marketer in a health and wellness-focused category like vitamins and supplements, the next few months will be an optimal time to reach new buyers who have not bought your brand in the last year. And for those new buyers who tried your brand during the pandemic, continue to advertise to them with new use cases and health benefits. With some creative audience targeting, brands can be set up for a strong second half of the year

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