Top Trending Growth for Pharmacies in Dietary Supplements

In an interview with Pharmacy Times®, Claire Morton Reynolds, MBA, senior industry analyst of Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), said that homeopathic medicine may be the industry to watch on pharmacy shelves.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times®, Claire Morton Reynolds, MBA, senior industry analyst of Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), said that homeopathic medicine, also known as dietary supplements, may be an industry to watch on pharmacy shelves.

The growth of these products in 2018 represented 6% of the $46 billion dollar homeopathic medicine industry, which includes products such as vitamins, herbs and botanicals, protein powder and other sports nutrition supplements, minerals, and specialty categories, such as probiotics, fish oils, and collagen.

“As the publication in the industry that tracks that growth, we’re really happy with the trajectory of the market right now,” said Morton Reynolds, who manages NBJ’s data and insights focusing primarily on natural and organic food and beverage, dietary supplements, and personal care.

The NBJ currently examines what Morton Reynolds calls “the conditions of today,” or modern conditions unique to 2019 that serve as retail opportunities. These include sleep support, cognitive health, vision and eye health, digestion and gut health, inflammation and cold, flu and immunity.

Morton Reynolds mentioned brain and eye health as 2 particular areas of growth to watch, explaining that these were formerly Baby Boomer categories that focused on preventing further deterioration; however, they are now welcoming an audience in the Millennial generation. Nootropics, or “brain hacking” drugs, experienced a growth of 7.1% in 2018 in an industry worth $869 million dollars. For eye health, that growth is 6.9% of a $694 million dollar industry.

“Within brain health now, you have the aging population still interested, but products like nootropics, and that brain hacking coming out of Silicon Valley, are gaining interests in the millennial generation as a whole to optimize their brain health. [O]n the eye health side, with concern to blue light screens, younger populations and even concern about kids being exposed to blue light. We’re seeing a lot of growth and momentum in innovation around that,” Morton Reynolds said.

Herbs and botanicals also began to see an industry growth of 9.4% in 2017 that continued with a 7% to 8% growth. Ingredients include elder berry, mushrooms, turmeric, and ashwagandha. Meanwhile, multivitamins continue their reign as a $6 billion dollar category in a $46 billion dollar industry.

Cold, flu, and immunity is another area that is seeing growth with consumers moving away from OTC in favor of “more holistic products,” according to Morton Reynolds. Last year, the $3.2 billion dollar industry experienced 9.5% growth last year through specific products, such as Zarbee’s naturopathic cold and flu.

For Morton Reynolds, hemp CBD changed the sales growth of the whole industry. “It’s the most disruptive thing we’ve seen in the supplement space, if not a long time than ever,” she said.

The NBJ Consumer Survey, which includes 2700 US representative consumers, found that CBD was cited for anxiety, sleep, and pain as their primary use cases. Although this survey does not necessarily translate to dollar amounts, since hemp CBD is often not labeled or targeted for any particular condition, these citations are helpful in guiding retail decisions. Hemp-based CBD sales supplements are projected at $618 million dollars for 2019. Furthermore, a calculated annual growth rate of 46% is projected between 2019 and 2023.

In particular, Morton Reynolds said that sleep supplements are an exciting area of growth. Melatonin sales had been relatively flat, whereas CBD has disrupted the sleep category and has allowed manufacturers to mix melatonin, CBD, and other sleep supplements to create new products.

Morton Reynolds also explained that the American Business Journal conducted generational research in 2017 and compared that information across generations, focusing on Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. The research asked a variety of questions around attitudes toward nutrition and food, including supplements and attitudes toward understanding how they use nutrition and supplements and their attitudes toward more holistic health.

“The research also looked into attitudes around vitality versus prevention. We really do see that attitudes towards health are shifting in Millennials far more than Boomers,” Morton Reynolds said. “They understand how healthy diet and how nutrients truly impact their day-to-day life and really are looking for ways to be healthier, thinking about health daily more than Boomers. That concept of prevention versus vitality that I mentioned is a big shift that’s affecting the health industry as a whole. Younger consumers are looking to really enhance their daily lives. It’s not just a matter of taking a supplement to prevent an issue later in life or to prevent a growing concern.”

Decision making in supplements among older generations is also seeing an overarching shift due to a halo effect from the younger consumers, according to Morton Reynolds.

“For pharmacists specifically as a consideration there would obviously [need to] be [an] understanding how supplements or various ingredients could potentially replace prescriptions that older consumers are on or over-the-counter medications their taking or complement them,” she said. “I think that pharmacists would have a unique understanding and knowledge of that specifically with older populations than an average GNC employee or natural retail employee. That could be definitely something that pharmacists leverage is that understanding of how these more homeopathic and naturopathic approaches to health would maybe sit in with specifically older consumers list of medication that they would be taking.”

In conclusion, Morton Reynolds said that depending on the year, there has been stronger supplement industry growth than pharmaceutical growth or OTC growth, particularly because of CBD. High growth areas, such as hemp CBD, eye or brain supplements, herbs and botanicals, collagen, or multivitamins are good investments.

“Young generations are more interested in homeopathic medicines, interested in trying to health with plants, health with more natural options. This is the future generations in sales where a lot of spending power is in homeopathic medicine and more natural approaches to health,” Morton Reynolds said.