Up to 59% of Americans today are taking steps to proactively manage their health compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Vitamin Shoppe’s 2023 Health & Wellness Trends report, with only 21% of consumers saying they are now less engaged and 16% reporting no change in their behavior. The report shares the retailer’s proprietary insights on what types of supplement and nutrition products U.S. consumers are buying.
The report’s data is based on internal analytics from The Vitamin Shoppe stores and online shop, as well as from market researcher SPINS. It also includes data from a consumer survey that The Vitamin Shoppe commissioned in May 2023 and which was conducted by OnePoll.
The report notes that “With the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in May 2023, the wellness landscape in the U.S. has seen a significant shift in consumer activities, priorities, and purchasing behaviors.” For instance, today’s shoppers are increasingly interested in active-nutrition products, the report notes. “Compared to a year ago, there has been an evolution of focus from categories like immunity protection and foundational health towards products that enhance fitness and active lifestyles, such as energy drinks, hydration formulas, and creatine,” it states.
Trend #1: Energy Drinks
Trend #1 in the report is caffeinated energy drinks, which The Vitamin Shoppe notes “have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years.” It says it expects demand to remain strong in 2023. At The Vitamin Shoppe, energy drink sales grew an additional 40% between January and April 2023, on top of 12% growth in 2022. The company reports that searches for energy drinks and energy drink brands on its website, vitaminshoppe.com, grew 20% in the 12 months ending March 2023, compared to 2022. SPINS data is similar, the report says, showing energy and sports drink sales grew more than 12.6% in the year ending March 2023 to $12 billion.
Some of the growth drivers of energy drinks today include the esports industry, celebrity endorsements, and social media influencers. Plus, the report states, “New formulas and ingredients are transforming the energy category, with adaptogens and functional ingredients like vitamin D2, mushrooms, BCAAs, ashwagandha, or L-theanine added to some energy formulas as differentiators…Some consumers are seeking lower doses of caffeine or caffeine replacements like L-citrulline or L-arginine, which boost nitric oxide levels.”
Branded flavors/names also shaking up the energy drinks space, including partnerships with brands like Country Time lemonade, Kool-Aid, Swedish Fish, and Sour Patch Kids.
“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,” added Jack Gayton, The Vitamin Shoppe’s divisional vice president of merchandising, in the report.
Trend #2: Hydration
Up to 57% of respondents to The Vitamin Shoppe’s survey said they are making a priority to stay hydrated during the day. The Vitamin Shoppe expects its hydration-category business to grow 140% this year, the report says. Likewise, SPINS tracking saw hydration sales grow 68% in the 12 months ending March 2023—this on top of a 168% category increase in 2022.
Searches for hydration and electrolyte products on The Vitamin Shoppe’s website also grew 200% in the 12 months ending March 2023. This year, the company even created “a new hydration merchandising concept, placed near the front of most stores…,” the report notes. Demand is growing for ready-to-drink, powder, tablet, and stick pack hydration products, it says.
Younger consumers are driving growth in both the hydration and the energy drinks categories, the report states, noting, “The massive popularity of energy drinks—and the related hydration category—is attracting younger consumers to The Vitamin Shoppe, with about 25% of new customers now aged between 19 and 30.”
It adds: “Traditionally, hydration products have been associated with two key groups: exceptionally active individuals like athletes, and people with medical conditions that may cause, or be exacerbated by, dehydration. However, recent SPINS sales data shows that it’s new, younger consumers that are driving the sharp increase in hydration sales. Young individuals over-index the average shopper by over 60% in this category, while Boomers and seniors under-index the category by nearly 70%.”
Trend #3: Fit Lifestyle
Active nutrition is a strong focus for consumers these days. The report notes that sports product categories like proteins, preworkouts, and creatine now make up the majority of sales at The Vitamin Shoppe and represented the retailer’s strongest growth category during the latter years of the pandemic.
Consumers are increasingly sophisticated and looking for whole-body health, seeking active-nutrition products that offer additional benefits and ingredients, including supergreens powders, nootropics for brain health, and support for stress, immune health, and joint health. The Vitamin Shoppe notes that it started a new marketing concept in December 2022 called Fit Lifestyle, “which brings these whole-body wellness products from sports nutrition brands into a cohesive, shopping-friendly display.”
It adds: “The Fit Lifestyle concept was an immediate success with customers, and robust initial sales led The Vitamin Shoppe to increase its original sales forecast for the initiative by 40% in 2023. Additionally, searches on vitaminshoppe.com for key brands and products from Fit Lifestyle increased by over 240% for the 12 months ended March 2023. Green superfoods are the biggest driver in the product set, comprising nearly half of sales.”
Trend #4: Creatine
Also in the sports and active-nutrition category, creatine “has been one of the biggest breakout supplements of the post-pandemic period,” the report notes, thanks in part to social media–driven interest. The report notes that at The Vitamin Shoppe, creatine sales grew more than 160% in 2022 and another 23% this year (through April). The company says creatine is now one of its fastest-growing products, and it even created an annual “National Creatine Day” this past July. And SPINS reports 120% sales growth for creatine in the 12 months ending March 2023.
New types of consumers are buying creatine today, extending beyond bodybuilders and gym rats to women, older shoppers, “and even vegans (who don’t typically consume creatine-rich foods),” the report says. These new shoppers are drawn by research showing that creatine can support healthy aging, muscle health, brain function, and bone health.
Products are drawing on a range of creatine forms, including creatine monohydrate, micronized creatine, creatine hydrochloride, and Kre-Alkalyn, the report adds.
Trend #5: Magnesium
Magnesium sales continue to grow at The Vitamin Shoppe, rising nearly 25% in January 2023 to April 2023. And SPINS reports 12% growth in magnesium sales in the 12 months ending March 2023.
Social media is helping drive consumer interest in and awareness of the many health benefits of magnesium, which include support for blood pressure and blood sugar, protein synthesis, nerve function, immune health, and stress/mood. In The Vitamin Shoppe’s consumer survey, more than half of respondents said they use a sleep aid, and 48% who use sleep aids use magnesium supplements, just behind melatonin and ahead of CBD/cannabis.
Magnesium glycinate is the form of magnesium trending most at The Vitamin Shoppe, the report notes, because it has been shown to support both stress and sleep. Magnesium glycinate sales grew 59% at The Vitamin Shoppe in the 12 months ending April 2023.
The report adds: “Unlike energy drinks or hydration products where branding drives the most excitement, it’s the cost-effective private brands, such as The Vitamin Shoppe magnesium glycinate, that have been the best sellers, as customers seek value in this category. In fact, private brands account for nearly half of all magnesium sales at The Vitamin Shoppe.”