The growth of “me-centred” consumers is rising; products and services that are tailored to the individual are no longer considered to be the exception, it’s the expected norm among today’s buyers. They want high-quality bespoke products at an affordable price, reports Rich Quelch, Global Head of Marketing at Lifestyle Packaging
Not only this, but health data is becoming increasingly important as new technology provides insights and opportunities that were previously impossible to achieve. The nutritional supplement industry recently observed its highest growth in more than two decades, driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which emphasised the importance of good health and holistic well-being.1
Today, the market is expanding far beyond the US where it originally emerged and it’s the latest sector to experience positive disruption from these two trends.
The global personalised retail nutrition and wellness market size was valued at $1.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9% from 2021 to 2028.2 As the sector becomes more competitive and well-known, we can expect worldwide expansion, increased segmentation and consolidation.
More big players are likely to follow Nestlé and make their move into this promising category, so current businesses — large and small — will need to gear up for increased competition.
Another challenge for the bespoke nutraceuticals market is that the health-conscious consumers, which this industry currently focuses on, are likely to have the smallest room for improvement when it comes to their health and well-being.
However, this gap is what personalised supplements are there to fill. For the market to maintain growth at its previous scale, it needs to entice a wider audience, educate and empower more individuals to take control of their health and build loyalty to keep subscriptions rolling. Bringing health management under one place, alongside fitness, mental well-being, sleep and nutrition offerings is key to increasing loyalty and longevity within the market.
Businesses are addressing the needs of this competitive market by prioritising what consumers value most: flexibility, personalisation and convenience. The nutraceuticals market is well positioned to target all three. From Vitamin Buddy’s free lifestyle quiz, Vitl’s goal-targeted approach to Nourished’s 3D-printed gummies, creativity and innovation are plentiful in the growing competitive marketplace for personalised vitamins and supplements.
There is also a more widespread understanding that vegetarian and vegan diets may require personalised supplements to prevent deficiencies, especially as some nutrients (vitamin B12 and creatine, for example) are either difficult or near impossible to get in sufficient amounts from plant foods alone.3
Enhanced knowledge alongside changing shopping habits and the search for convenience have created the perfect market conditions for new online-only entrants who offer personalised nutraceuticals via subscription. Within this category, the level of personalisation varies depending on the brand and price point. There are offerings to support most budgets, ranging from approximately £20 per month up to £150 and beyond at the premium end of the market.
Nutraceuticals businesses such as Vitmedics take a more “soft sell” stance by offering advice and recommending supplements that help to address any imbalances, depending on what medicines you take and how these may affect nutrient absorption. In contrast, Bioniq and many high-end brands provide a personal feel right down to printing the customer’s name on the primary and secondary packaging.
Like so many of today’s revolutionary concepts, artificial intelligence (AI) lies at the heart of a tailored service. We can expect to see more providers using AI and machine learning to provide hyper-personalised offerings that adapt according to data and changing health needs at a more frequent rate or, indeed, in real-time.
This will help in-house experts to make accurate and effective recommendations, delivering the kind of return-on-investment that savvy health-aware consumers are searching for.
For those looking for “luxury” solutions that come at a premium, there will be more choice. The field of DNA and microbiome testing is particularly interesting that could deliver unique and hyper-personalised solutions at a bigger scale for those with larger budgets to spend. Smart packaging is an exciting area for improvement too and a way that brands can take the personalised experience to the next level.
The increased use of built-in smart packaging technologies will help brands to log transit data and safeguard against counterfeit products entering the supply chain. Smartphone apps can track consumers’ progress towards their goals and remind them to take their pills. QR codes can unlock extra tailored health advice from a range of experts.
Companies will also be judged more and more on their product’s sustainability — including packaging materials and wastage. Brands need to balance efficacy, safety and sustainability, which will require more investment in research, development and testing.
Mixed materials that are difficult to recycle should be avoided or switched out for sustainable solutions. For example, the patented SnappD is the first 100% recyclable single-use packaging for sachets, helping brands to continue to offer single portion easy-to-transport pouches as an alternative without compromising on function.4
Naturally, products designed for home delivery are letterbox-sized or slightly larger, resulting in a small amount of wastage. But anything that will be discarded needs to be carefully considered from a recycling or compostable point of view, including protective materials and sachets.
Investors and market analysts have expressed concerns regarding the industry’s ability to retain customers … not just for months, but for years to come. However, value-add products, technological innovation and sustainable supply chain and packaging solutions will become key for businesses competing in this niche but lucrative category.
As competition hots up and consolidation intensifies, we can expect subscription prices to fall, making them more accessible to more people. We’re also poised to witness exciting advancements when it comes to science-led solutions and the technologies that deliver them.
The brands that will dominate this market in the long-term will be those that can deliver a range of innovative offerings with different price points. They will provide value-add integrations and product lines that promote convenience and compliance. They will invest in educating and empowering their customers using expert scientific knowledge combined with AI. And they will achieve all this without compromising on sustainability.