Traditionally, supplements have been based on the foundational five forms: hard-shell capsules, tablets, softgels, liquids and powders.
This is changing. Consumers are starting to demand change and new options, and brands are waking up to the fact that supplements don’t need to be taken in a pill or tablet delivery form. As such, consumers are starting to get their supplements in new and exciting ways, and brands and manufacturers are discovering how they deliver is only limited by their creativity.
Larger market segmentation and customers looking for new ways to improve their quality of life is driving this change. There is a more diverse demographic starting to take dietary supplements. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) 2017 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 76 percent of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, which is an all-time high for supplement consumption.
With this growth, there is a richer diversification happening not only in terms of who is taking supplements, but also how. People are not just taking tablets and capsules; they are turning to powders and drink mixes in droves. This movement will—and is starting to—transition into foods and other delivery forms as well.
One of the driving forces is simple pill fatigue. Consumers are looking for easier-to-obtain nutrition without having to swallow a big capsule or pill, while at the same time making it a more enjoyable experience.
There is now, and will continue to be, among brands and manufacturers, a big emphasis on flavor and experience. Consumers desire a more enjoyable experience when they are taking products and using them more in their life. It is a move away from the adage, “If it’s good for you, it has to taste bad.” Coupled with that idea, consumers are seeking healthier alternatives when it comes to beverages, supplements and foods. As people are focusing on healthy alternatives for food and food choices, ultimately, the market will begin to see more supplementation married with food.
People will want to get their added nutrients in foods they already consume such as potato chips, yogurts (i.e., probiotics), and even items that were previously considered strictly unhealthy such as candy, ice cream and other snacks. That trend will continue to shift and grow.
Another element is the migration away from soft drinks and similar sugary drinks. In a 12-year study, published in Obesity in 2003, 79.7 percent of children and 61.5 percent of adults drank a sugary beverage on any given day (2017;26(2). DOI: 10.1002/oby.22056). In 2014, the figures dropped to 60.7 percent of children and 50 percent of adults.
The industry is headed in an exciting direction.
One creative approach quickly evolving is the area of countertop dispensaries. This is similar in concept to a Keurig coffee machine where there is a one-off format with a multitude of options. This essentially provides a mechanism to “brew” the vitamins and minerals requested in a beverage flavor of choice or smoothie. This is indicative of consumer desire for increased convenience and single-dose formats.
While pills and tablets will always be there, beverage delivery systems are on the rise like never before. With new flavor combinations and formats such as shots, smoothies and shakes, manufacturers can add even more ways to increase the positive experience by adding enhancers such as effervesces.
Gummies are all the rage now and this will only continue to grow. But how about getting the benefits of a bowl of vegetables in a stick of chewing gum?
With how rapidly medicine, medical devices and supplement forms are evolving, the market could easily get to the point where a patient could see a doctor who injects a slow-release capsule under the skin that delivers highly-concentrated multivitamin supplements over a six-month period.
The sky is the limit for new and innovative delivery forms. Consumers want them; it’s time to get creative.
Justin Bath is the president of Biovation Labs, a contract manufacturing, formulation, private label and supplier company within the natural products industry. The company works within the life science space, manufacturing products for supplement and nutraceutical companies worldwide. In January 2018, the company moved into its new 104,000 square foot corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City, which houses a state-of-the-art, high capacity manufacturing facility, serving the needs of both large and early-stage companies. Biovation Labs is a certified cGMP facility.