What you need to know

The vitamins and supplements category has shown strong value growth in 2019, driven by the wellness trend and consumers taking their health into their own hands. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the category, which is forecast to grow in value by 9.1% in 2020 to £494 million.

As a result of the outbreak, preventative health strategies have come to the fore as consumers focus on maintaining their health, including using vitamins and supplements for reasons such as immune health and mental wellbeing. Consumers are preferring brands rather than own-label, which is also driving value.

Although there has been increased engagement in the market since the outbreak of COVID-19, this has been largely amongst users rather than non-users. Long-term growth will come from driving regular habits amongst occasional users, as well as drawing in non-users.

Holistic health has been pushed into the spotlight as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk to physical health as well as the emotional impact of stress, anxiety and loneliness it has brought with it. Going forward, immune health will be a key focus, but this can expand and take a more holistic approach considering mental wellbeing, poor nutrition and lack of sleep.

Key issues covered in this report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the vitamins and supplements market

  • How the market will fare post-COVID-19

  • The value of individual segments and brand performance in 2019

  • Launch activity and opportunities for 2020

  • Usage of vitamins and supplements in the last 12 months and reasons for use

  • Change in usage habits since the outbreak of COVID-19

  • Purchase drivers and behaviours when buying vitamins and supplements.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January 2020, with a small number of cases in February. The government focused on the ‘contain’ stage of its strategy, with the country continuing to operate much as normal. As the case level rose, the government ordered the closure of non-essential stores on 20 March.

A wider lockdown requiring people to stay at home except for essential shopping, exercise and work ‘if absolutely necessary’ followed on 23 March. On 15 June, The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations came into effect allowing the reopening of all non-essential stores in England as well as the mandatory use of face coverings on public transport. Face coverings became compulsory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July, extending to more indoor venues on the 8 August. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers reopened on 4 July and beauty salons reopened on 13 July, with close contact treatments allowed from 15 August.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its July 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. The scenario suggests that UK GDP could fall by 12.4% in 2020, recovering by 8.7% in 2021, and that unemployment will reach 11.9% by the end of 2020, falling to 8.8% by the end of 2021.

The current uncertainty means that there is wide variation on the range of forecasts however, and this is reflected in the OBR’s own scenarios. In its upside scenario, economic activity returns to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q1 2021. Its more negative scenario, by contrast, would mean that GDP doesn’t recover until Q3 2024.

Products covered in this Report

This Report covers the following vitamins and supplements sectors:

  • Vitamins – multivitamins and single-dose vitamins (ie Vitamins A, B, C, D, E etc)

  • Minerals – eg iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium

  • Dietary supplements – includes supplements such as cod liver oil, fish oils, GLAs (gamma-linolenic acids), evening primrose oil, glucosamine and herbs such as garlic, ginseng and ginger.

These products have GSL (General Sales List) status, ie they are available on open sale in all types of outlets including grocers, pharmacies and drugstores.

Unless a medicinal claim is made for the products, vitamins and supplements are not classified as medicines and, therefore, are not subject to the Medicines Act 1968 or the Medicines for Human Use Regulations 1994. They are, however, controlled by the Food Safety Act 1990, and therefore have to be fit for human consumption.

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