Key Takeaways from SupplySide West 2017

On the week of September 25, Euromonitor International presented at SupplySide West, one of the most important global gatherings of the nutrition and supplement industries. This year’s exposition brought together more than 12,000 of the leading companies in health and nutrition, including formulators, manufacturers, laboratory experts, packaging developers, and producers of final products. Euromonitor’s Consumer Health Industry Manager Matthew Oster provided insights on two panels at this year’s event, covering topics related to Healthy Aging and Sports Nutrition. As in past years, SupplySide West was able to provide a comprehensive picture of the industry’s most important trends and developments including innovations in products themselves as well as marketing and positioning strategies, new technologies, regulatory changes, and key demographic trends that drive the industry forward.

Supplements Moving Beyond the Basics

Traditionally, dietary supplements have been positioned around the major classes of ingredient formulations such as Vitamin C in the case of vitamin supplements or whey proteins in sports nutrition. One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s SupplySide West exposition, however, was the proliferation of new products positioned around specific physical demands like memory improvement and relaxation or needs states like dehydration or fatigue. As consumers begin to take a more comprehensive view of their overall health, many major manufacturing companies have begun reframing their product portfolios as well, around conditions such as “gut and immune health” as opposed to “digestive remedies,” as an example. By following the lead of the consumer and reframing existing products around need states, manufacturers are able to capture more of the market space and look instead at long-term, comprehensive consumer behaviour that reaches beyond a specific branded product.

Probiotics, as expected, were a major feature at SupplySide West and there were hundreds of suppliers available, though in a departure from recent years the emphasis by exhibitors was on product safety and efficacy rather than metrics such as active culture count. As probiotics have become more mainstream especially to the American consumer, the emphasis by producers has shifted from being one of introducing a product to reassuring the consumer that these products are safe to use over the long-term: product safety is inherently part of the new consumer’s 360 view of their own wellbeing and is increasingly important as consumers pay closer attention to the types of products they choose to put in their bodies.

Increasing Personalization Seen in Product Development

Just as consumers are drawn to products that address specific systems and need states, they are also increasingly interested in products that are personalized for them – for OTC drugs, this can mean smaller pills that are easier to swallow, pill capsules can be manually pulled apart to allow easier access to powdered medication, or layered pill components that include flavouring to make the product more palatable to consumers. A similar theme was seen in new product developments in sports nutrition, where manufacturers exhibited smaller protein packets for on-the-go consumers, dissolvable packages that can be consumed along with the product itself, and new processes in powder manufacturing that increase product dissolvability and reduces clumping.

Across the overall Consumer Health space, consumers report wanting to limit the amount of chemicals they ingest while simultaneously making sure that the products they do ingest are specific to their own individual needs and deficiencies. It is obvious that producers and marketers have heard this message loud and clear, and are reformulating, reframing, and rebranding their existing product lines and new products to address the needs of this savvier, more individualized consumer of dietary supplements and nutrition products.