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The evolution of product personalization in the supplement industry

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Obvious gender and age categories for supplements have expanded, as consumers seek products more targeted to their personal needs.

The internet created a shift in consumer tastes that demands greater personalization of the products they purchase. Consumers feel—and rightly so—they are entitled to greater choices of products that address their personal needs and wants. This is particularly true in the health care segment, where consumers are more sensitive than ever about their wellness.

People who take supplements are empowering themselves and taking their health and overall wellness into their own hands. Developers of products and brands would be failing them if they did not support their journey. Today’s consumers have data more easily accessible and thus are looking for the products that best fit their needs.

With the proliferation of social media, the supplement space has become saturated with a sea of brands trying to differentiate themselves and fighting for the attention of consumers. This has led to more educated consumers, who want products that relate to their lifestyle, interests and health requirements.

Product developers should work closely with sales, marketing teams and customers to determine who the ultimate consumer is and what they are looking for in a supplement. No longer does a one-size-fits-all approach address the needs of today’s consumers.

Products That Give Consumers Control

Customizing supplements and regimens gives consumers control over their health and well-being. Understanding their individual needs allows the industry to formulate products that speak to the consumer on a personal level.

Product segmentation continues to evolve, moving from the obvious gender and age categories to pregnant women, active people and extreme sports enthusiasts, to name a few. Consumers want to feel that supplements are made for their lifestyles and will help them live and enjoy life better.

For example, one of our company’s customers is a women’s health and wellness brand targeted to women on the go. As such, we developed an entire product line that touches on all areas of a woman’s life—from everyday beauty boosts to multivitamin formulas to sleep support. Today’s active woman demands products tailored to the many facets and dimensions of her life.

Another customer asked us to develop a supplement that addressed stress and burnout, areas of growing concern among consumers. Based on research, we found Rhodiola rosea was an ingredient that promoted mental energy and targeted fatigue (BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:70), so it was incorporated into the formulation.

Another personalized segment that is growing rapidly is targeted at extreme sport enthusiasts. The founders of TruWild came to us to develop products that would appeal to surfers, climbers and hikers—people who need to boost their energy levels. The founders have travelled widely and developed supplements from natural herbs and ingredients used by various locals. While initially TruWild spread by word of mouth—by flight attendants who are yoga enthusiasts—today it is a well-established company and brand.

Truth in Labeling

Often overlooked, labeling is an area that has evolved as well. While it is not practical to personalize every product for each user, label information needs to be transparent about the ingredients and the benefits, without empty or unrealistic promises of results. The label allows users to personalize their own nutritional experience, determining dosage and allergen information, as well as other traits they may be seeking, such as non-GMO or gluten-free.

Today’s consumers are more educated, aware and inquisitive—they are asking tough questions, doing the research, and paying closer attention because they care, and because supplement choices need to make sense for them and their lifestyle. It’s as fast as a Google search for consumers to determine if something on the label is for them or not.

Personalized products are not changing the manufacturing process, per se, but a rigorous focus on quality control (QC) is more important today than ever. As the number of ingredients grows and the choices of products proliferate, opportunities for error increase. A process designed from end to end without any compromise in quality is paramount.

Personalized nutrition is an essential focus for startups and existing supplement providers, providing brands an opportunity to diversify to increase market share and target new customers. Today’s supplement consumers want the freedom to adapt their changing health needs and the opportunity to try new supplements. With further investment in personalized nutrition startups and greater focus on the benefits of tailoring wellness plans, expect to see new formulations, supplementary structures and delivery plans that adapt to and meet the changing and highly specialized needs of health-conscious consumers.

Meg Ligot is the product development manager at Lief Labs, overseeing both the product development and research and development (R&D) departments. Based in Valencia, California, Lief Labs is an innovator in product ideation and formulation for the dietary supplement market, driven by a passion for collaboration, a determination to offer only the best ingredients, and an innovative and adaptable mindset.

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