Gone are the days when consumers are left with little choice but to swallow a handful of pills in order to supplement their diets. Spawned in part by “pill fatigue” and the desire of companies to stand apart in a crowded market, nutraceutical delivery systems have evolved beyond large tablets and capsules.
Contract manufacturers have been working on the front lines to bring a range of options to the table, from pricing advantages, to expertise with certain market niches or dosage forms, to a reputation for top shelf life.
One thing is for certain: The evolution of delivery formats began by listening.
In 2013, research conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) found the major reason people stopped taking supplements is that they “simply got tired of taking them.”
A 2003 online survey conducted by Harris Interactive showed 40% of U.S. adults experienced difficulty when swallowing pills, even though most never had problems swallowing food or liquid. Of those who experienced such difficulty, 14% said they delayed taking doses of their medication, 8% skipped a dose and 4% discontinued using their medication. Most described the sensations as having “a pill stuck in their throat” (80%), having a “bad aftertaste in their mouth” (48%) or gagging (32%). (Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005;131(11):970-975.)
Those seem like good reasons to “simply get tired of taking them.”
Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) stated in its April 2020 issue, “Consumers’ growing aversion to pills in favor of newer, more experiential delivery forms spans nearly every category, from multivitamins to sleep solutions to beauty from within.”
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) 2019 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, only 31% of supplement users prefer pills, 18% being 34 and under.
While some consumers today still have difficulty swallowing pills, improvements in technology offer contract manufacturers a wide range of innovative dosage forms. Nutrients can be ingested as coated tablets, which are easier to swallow, capsules, soft gels, time-released capsules, powders, liquids, chewable tablets, gummies, shakes, beverages and nutritional bars.
This has led to contract manufacturers discontinuing the once common, large and chalky “horse pills” in search of more desirable delivery systems.
Of all the delivery formats on the rise, gummies take the winning podium for being most noteworthy. According to CRN’s 2019 survey, they are the most popular format among 18- to 34-year-olds. “Gummies’ growth is represented in all categories, but they are capturing the largest market share in vitamins and minerals,” said Claire Morton Reynolds, NBJ senior analyst. Not only do gummies taste like candy, they provide a more pleasurable experience, which has been a problem for supplement companies to overcome in the past.
If it is not pleasurable, consumers do not stick to the dietary regimen.
Grab-and-go delivery options are moving up in sales as young consumers are seeking dietary supplements that fit within their busy lifestyles. Whether it is through a stick pack, a personalized pill pack or a nutritional bar, contract manufacturers can now create unique formulations that help consumers take their health-boosting ingredients with them on the go, no pill box required.
Innovation and marketing today
Millennials and Generation Y consumers are driving transformation in dosage forms by increasingly incorporating supplements into their health regimens; in the “Age of Me,” they are demanding convenience along with an overall pleasant experience. The one-size-fits-all experience no longer works for the younger generations, and contract manufacturers are listening because what these consumers want matters.
Now nearing 40 years old and soon to be the largest, living adult generation, many Millennials are taking charge of their health and will carry their healthy habits into their golden years. While most are beginning to feel the sense of loss when it comes to invincibility and youthfulness, this makes them a high-value demographic for supplement brands.
Millennials learn about brands through a variety of social media platforms and influencer marketing. This is much different from traditional marketing but can also be an effective way to market to all generations.
Today, aesthetics and user experience play a key role in selling a product. Think about scrolling through Instagram from a dietary supplement perspective. Who wants to be sitting on their couch watching someone pop a pill?
The answer is no one.
Consumers are attracted to eye-catching images and products with a purpose. Take for instance Nouri’s probiotic 2-in-1 capsule. Not only is the probiotic sealed in a second protective layer surrounded by Ahiflower oil to optimize absorption while providing a daily dose of omegas, it is sustainably cultivated, fully traceable and has a story to tell.
Visually appealing dietary supplement videos, like those with the technology of VitaSperse and VitaDry, draw the consumer in. Clips that are visually appealing and engaging are considered the new wave of marketing for the dietary supplement industry.
If you catch the eye of the consumer, you’re one step closer to gaining a loyal customer.
More than manufacturers
It’s a crowded field with companies striving for every small advantage to catch the eye and loyalty of today’s consumer. As the dietary supplement industry continues to evolve, partnering with the right contract manufacturer can help companies develop products from infancy, through research, development and formulation, to a complete market-ready dietary supplement.
Jacqueline Rizo is a content writer who specializes in B2B articles and white papers for the natural products industry on behalf of Stratum Nutrition.