Supplement Customer Demographics & Psychographics
Consumers of clean energy and amino acid supplements are likely to be looking for products that offer added benefits, primarily mental health and immunity claims. The pandemic accelerated the demand for natural products and clean labels; however, convenience and taste are still important factors. Social media is the primary source of influence and information, while Amazon accounts for most online sales, albeit direct-to-consumer sales are expected to grow. Moreover, quality and GMO-free ingredients are vital differentials for brands hoping to attract these young adults.
- The primary target audience for clean energy and amino acid supplements are young adults, in the 18-34 category, closely followed by those in the 35-44 category.
- Overall, consumers of clean products and supplements are likely to have a college degree.
- Men are more likely than women to purchase these supplements; however, women are a rising consumer group, particularly for clean products.
- Consumers of energy and amino acid supplements are likely to be married.
- Those living in higher-income households (above US$30,000) are more likely to purchase amino acid supplements.
- Prior to the pandemic, energy was the number one reason young adults purchased supplements. COVID-19 changed the focus to immunity. Now, according to Mintel, "Athlete wellness" is "a trend increasingly coming to the fore, so we can expect to see more sports nutrition products that incorporate holistic wellness themes."
- Consumers of energy supplements want more than just energy; they want focus and alertness, and "are seeking out formulas to not only aid endurance but also focus their mind." As for added benefits, consumers in the target age profile (18-34) are looking for supplements that improve their mental health (29%), brain/cognitive health (28%), and sleep (24%).
- Besides the typical athlete and gym-goer, a new group is rising among energy supplement consumers: gamers and eSports athletes, who are "beginning to wake up to the fact that there are better alternatives to a steady diet of caffeine, high-sugar foods, and instant energy fixes to keep them competitive."
- Convenience and taste are important. Overall, 30%percent of adults are “very/extremely interested in drinkable products that provide sustainable energy.” The number is even higher for the target demographic, as 50% of consumers aged 18-29 and 44% of those in the 30-39 group said the same. Products that offer a boost of energy are desired by 45% of those aged 18-29 but only by 18% of those in the 30-39 age group.
- Consumers want energy supplements that are transparent and more natural. Overall, as of July 2020, 60% of US consumers of sports nutrition and performance products believe they have too many artificial ingredients. According to Mintel, the fact that the majority of "US adults aged 18-54 consider performance drinks to be too high in artificial ingredients reflects the need to eliminate such ingredients and focus on committing to cleaner labels."
- The pandemic changed the distribution channels of supplements from retail and natural & specialty stores to DTC and e-commerce. DTC, in particular, is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. Currently, Amazon is the main channel for online purchases of protein supplements (not specific to clean products).
- A study with consumers of pre-workout supplements, which are highly likely to buy energy and amino acid supplements, reported that "included ingredients" was the number one factor influencing their product selection (66.9%), followed by quality (52.5%), price (46.8%), supported benefits from scientific publications (41.3%), reputable brand (39.8%), and referral from a trusted source (29.2%). Another survey with sports nutrition consumers reported similar results. Of note, consumers of sports nutrition and pre-workout supplements are more likely to consider the quality of ingredients than consumers of other types of supplements.
- Research suggests that younger generations find and select supplements differently than their older counterparts. Like other aspects of their lives, social media, influencers, and YouTube have significant roles in their buyer journey. Likewise, a survey discovered that social media (ranging from paid ads to personal endorsements) is the number one source of product information for sports nutrition consumers, followed by the brand’s website (56%), recommendations from family and friends (55%), products labels (36%), and blogs (13%).
- Nonetheless, consumers are researching the products they buy and want brands to be transparent. As for the type of product information they are seeking, 78% were looking for probiotic content, 74% wanted to ensure that the product contains no GMO ingredients, and nearly 50% were looking for a specific ingredient. Another study reported that caffeine is the number one ingredient consumers look for (80.3%) in ergogenic supplements, followed by Beta-alanine (57.9%), Creatine (46.1%), and vasodilators (43.6%).
- Furthermore, 73% of consumers surveyed reported that the presence of natural claims makes the product appealing or very appealing. Low-fat or no fat claims are also appealing. Researchers concluded that “it is not enough to just have ‘good’ ingredients; products must also avoid ‘bad’ ingredients.”
- Analysis of thousands of reviews for BCAA products reported that “product category, formulation and labeling” improve consumer engagement and product search visibility.
- The pandemic increased the demand for natural supplements. Consumers are looking for supplements that are transparent, with clean labels and science-supported claims. Natural products have an advantage since they "inherently have fewer ingredients," making it easier to provide a transparent list of ingredients. Clean and simple "works great for supplements"
- James Powell, principal at Frontier Label, explains that supplement brands are targeting millennials by “keeping the design clean and simple. This is really important because millennials really focus on rapid communication and want to know what a product is quickly, and if you can’t tell at a glance because the design is overly complex or busy, then the millennial consumer is just going to move on.”
Publicly available information surrounding consumers of clean energy and amino acid supplements was limited (most surveys and studies on the theme are behind paywalls, and include other groups as well). Therefore, we combined multiple categories to create the profiles.
Since we were not provided the ingredients of the supplements (e.g., whey, casein, soy, dairy), the profiles were based on consumers of ergogenic aids, clean supplements, pre-workout supplements (amino acid), sports nutrition, clean protein supplements (amino acids), and BCAA supplements. We compared the different insights to ensure that was no contraction between the groups.
We also noted which group was used for each insight. However, our research suggests these consumers tend to be similar, as the products are often the same, but the lens/study/categorization is different. For example, the age group of those consuming sports nutrition protein supplements (18-34) is the same as those consuming ergogenic aids (mean age is 27).
BCAA is usually associated with muscle growth. Male-only households are more likely to buy muscle-building supplements than female-only households but slightly less likely than female-male households. Female-male households, particularly those with children, are also slightly more likely to buy energy supplements and sports nutrition products.