US Herbal Sales Enjoy Record Rise

Annual sales of herbal dietary supplements in USA passed US$10bn for the first time in 2020, according to the American Botanical Council’s 2020 Herb Market Report, which is based on US retail sales data provided by SPINS and the Nutrition Business Journal. Consumers spent an estimated US$11.3bn, +17.3% vs 2019. This is more than double the annual growth reported that year and the first time the segment has experienced double-digit growth in at least two decades.

  • In mainstream US retail outlets, elderberry was the top-selling herbal supplement ingredient, with sales totalling US$275mn+
  • Ashwagandha root had the largest percentage sales growth (+185.2%) in the mainstream channel. Widely used in Ayurveda, the well-known adaptogen is believed to increase the body’s ability to adapt to different forms of stress
Source: SPINS (52 weeks ending 27th December 2020)
  • Apple cider vinegar supplements saw strong sales growth in both mainstream and natural retail channels, with those marketed for digestive health and “cleanse and detox” the top focus
  • Natural retail outlet shoppers also prioritised fungi supplements, including some marketed for immune and cognitive health such as Chaga, which made its first appearance among the Top 40 in the natural channel ingredients, although human clinical research is lacking

Comment from study co-author Tyler Smith: Consumer trends in herbal supplements have never been more pronounced – the pandemic’s effects on supplement purchases can be seen in almost every data point for 2020. Throughout the year, consumers sought out products commonly used for immune health, stress relief and digestive support, likely in response to pandemic-related stressors. However, sales of products for age-related concerns such as prostate and heart health also grew in 2020, which suggests that consumers were turning to herbal supplements for both acute and chronic conditions.

Now is your final chance to register to join Nicholas and the team next week for our North American e-Conference 2021, reviewing marketing solutions across the region. To register, or for further details, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com without delay.

ADM Survey: Behaviour Shifts Create CHC Opportunities

Some 60% of consumers plan to improve their overall health & wellness in the next 12 months, according to Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), which transforms natural products into ingredients and flavours for foods & beverages, supplements, pet nutrition and more. There is also a more proactive approach to managing wellbeing with functional nutrition, close-to-nature ingredients and foods that signal self-care. ADM has identified five behaviour shifts that are creating opportunities for manufacturers to support evolving needs:

  • Renewed motivation to improve individual health & wellness Pandemic experiences have varied across the globe, but an almost universal takeaway is the renewed focus on preventive health & wellness behaviours. Products designed for all life stages will help consumers protect themselves, their families and their communities
  • Holistic approach to managing mind-body connection 51% of consumers plan to improve their cognitive and mental health over the next 12 months. As we return to more active lifestyles, convenient products with functional ingredients that boost energy, enhance cognitive performance & regulate mood are gaining prominence
  • Tailored nutrition supports personal health & wellness goals Nearly two-thirds of consumers are interested in customised foods & beverages. A greater understanding of how diet can impact health is spurring more people to choose wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients, with particular focus on fibre & protein. As the chart below from our CHC New Products Tracker database indicates, the number of new personalised VMS products launched has grown sharply in recent years
  • Proactive perspective on immunity With 65% of consumers more concerned about immunity, there is a shift from a defensive to a more proactive & holistic approach. People are looking for ways to incorporate immune function-supporting solutions like probiotics and vitamins C & D into their daily lives. Products with functional ingredients that support a healthy immune system will increasingly attract consumer attention
  • Purposeful indulgence new “permissible indulgence” During the pandemic, many people have given themselves permission to consume indulgent food & beverages as a form of self-care. Consumers are recognising that, as long as these are purposeful — not impulsive — choices, indulgence has a role in a positive relationship with food

Nicholas Hall’s Touchpoints: The ADM research tells us nothing we didn’t know already, but as always it’s good to put numbers to the various consumer trends, and to be reassured that these trends continue as we head towards the second anniversary of this shocking pandemic. The same is true of the birth rate data in our second lead story. At the outset of Covid-19, with the expectation that a large part of the world’s population would spend much more time at home, we all assumed that the birth rate would go up, which is the reverse of what actually happened. As The Consumer remains at the centre of our industry, we are well advised to take seriously behavioural trends such as these as we shape future strategies and return to the New Normal. A longer-term trend underpins our third lead story this week, with Catalent’s acquisition of one of the leading manufacturers of gummies, a delivery system popular with adults as well as children that has taken the US market by storm and which is poised to do the same in the rest of the world.

You can save with the early bird booking discount when you register to attend our APAC e-Conference 2021 before 21 September! Taking place on 23 November, join Nicholas and the team to Face the Future together. Stay tuned for new additions to the agenda! Plus, this event will also host the Nicholas Hall CHC Marketing Awards for the region. To find out more about the conference, entry submission criteria, or to book your place, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

Kerry survey highlights growing interest in probiotics

Demand for probiotics is growing as digestive health moves up the consumer agenda, according to a survey conducted by Irish taste and nutrition company Kerry. The company surveyed 13,000+ consumers across 16 countries. Almost half (47%) of those questioned were aware of probiotics or cultures, up from 42% in 2019 when the survey was last conducted. Awareness was particularly high in Latin America (63%) and North America (61%). One in four respondents (25%) had used a product containing probiotics in the past six months, up from 21% in 2019; a further 44% said they would consider doing so vs 40% in 2019. Probiotic use in the past six months was especially high in China (49% of respondents), followed by Mexico (42%). Digestive Health was ranked third on the list of reasons to purchase healthy lifestyle products, up from fourth in 2019.

Writing in CHC.Newsflash, Nicholas Hall said this story is a welcome reminder that probiotics remains one of the most attractive categories in consumer healthcare, despite flat sales during Covid. As Kerry VP John Quilter points out: “Demographic changes, such as population ageing and lifestyle choices, have increased the prevalence of digestive disorders, while the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards more proactive approaches to health. As a result, consumers [are] increasingly well educated about the role of probiotics and their ability to support both digestive health and overall wellness.”

Nicholas commented further: “Our industry is receiving this message loud and clear, to judge by the large number of probiotic new products. Indeed, it’s highly instructive to look at the very large number of new CHC products launched in 2020 as measured by our Tracker. There were three standout categories: probiotics, CBD and – no surprises – immune supplements. These categories recorded around 250-300 launches each, substantially ahead of multivitamins, antiseptics & disinfectants and sedatives & sleep aids. The impact of Covid is written all over this data, but despite the disruption in purchasing habits, marketer perception of unmet consumer demand is clear, with probiotics and CBD very much front of mind.

As I’ve written before, I see probiotics as a three-stage process: entry level, using well-known strains with a gut-health positioning; first stage development, embracing new indications such as immunity and women’s health, but still using existing strains and combinations; and the far stage, with exciting new indications including metabolic reconditioning, and completely new strains. At present we are about a third of the way into the second stage, with lots of new probiotics coming to market. But what we lack is clinical evidence with large sample sizes from research centres with unimpeachable credentials, sufficient to persuade, for example, the Doubting Dr Thomases at the European Food Standards Authority to allow claims or even the use of the word “probiotic” on packaging. With a number of heavy hitters from the supply chain – such as Kerry – being attracted to probiotics, I’m confident that we are only a few years away from the Promised Land.

Take the opportunity to save up to GB£2,100 when you pre-order our forthcoming Immunity hot topic report before 31 August! This essential report will review a number of categories including antivirals, immune supplements and vitamins C & D, and explores the latest launch activity, plus much more. To pre-order your copy with the pre-publication discount, or to find out more, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

CVS Study: Consumers taking better control of health

CVS Health’s just-published 2021 Health Care Insights Study, which asked 1,000 consumers and 400 providers for their thoughts on the state of healthcare and how they are navigating this evolving landscape, reveals preferences for a more personalised, customisable and accessible experience.

Even as access to health insurance coverage (55%) and location of care (43%) remain among the top factors that influence consumer healthcare decisions, more people are exploring different avenues of care, with a slight movement away from primary care providers (PCPs) to other healthcare resources. Routine care from PCPs has dropped since last year (56% vs 62%), while the use of online resources (19% vs 12%), community health centres (19% vs 15%) and local pharmacies (17% vs 11%) have grown in preference.

Other findings include:

  • 77% said the pandemic has led them to pay more attention to their health in general, while 50% indicated previous stay-at-home orders helped them achieve their health goals
  • In addition to increased substance use, feelings of stress have been pervasive, especially for men, who reported slightly higher levels of stress vs female respondents over the significant shifts that took place during quarantine
  • Young adults (18-34 years) were most impacted by the pandemic and the most likely age group to report depression (35%) and a higher rate of mental illness (28%) vs total respondents (23%)

Comment from CVS Health President & CEO, Karen Lynch: Over the past year-and-a-half, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in consumer healthcare preferences and needs. These shifts towards personalised care have the potential to impact our healthcare system well past the pandemic, with many people taking a more engaged approach to their own health. Going forward, we have an opportunity to take what we’ve learned and continue to foster an integrated health model that is centred around the needs of the individual.

Will consumer interest in boosting immunity outlast Covid? Is the shift to prevention products sustainable? These important questions will be explored in our forthcoming hot topic report focusing on Immunity. A number of categories including antivirals, immune supplements and vitamins C & D will be featured, alongside the latest launch activity and much more. To pre-order your copy and save with the pre-publication discount, or to find out more, please contact Melissa.Lee@NicholasHall.com.

MAT Q1 2021: Global CHC sales fall 0.6%

According to Nicholas Hall’s global sales database DB6, the retail (bricks & mortar) CHC market generated global sales of US$148bn, down by -0.6% versus a year ago. Further heavy decline for cough, cold & allergy (-14.5%), especially in North America and Western Europe, was largely responsible for the global fall in CHC sales. The Americas declined by -0.4%, driven by a -1.9% fall in North America, but slightly offset by a positive performance by LatAm markets (+8.5%), notably double-digit growth in Brazil (+10.6%).

Asia remained relatively weak (+2.6%); despite strong growth in China (+7.1%), the region continues to be impacted by loss of revenue from overseas visitors in key markets Japan (-9.1%) and Australia (-8.0%). Europe saw a significant downturn (-5.5%), heavily impacted by declines in CCA and analgesics in Western Europe. Key markets Germany (-13.3%) and UK (-13.9%) fell by double-digits during the MAT Q1 2021 period. In C&E Europe, meanwhile, Russia continued to post a positive performance (+4.1%), albeit at a slower rate than year-end.

As for global performance by major category, vitamins, minerals & supplements (+5.3%) remained the fastest-growing category – albeit at a slower rate than year-end 2020 – with immune-associated categories continuing to benefit from greater consumer focus on wellness maintenance and protection. Dermatologicals increased by +4.5%, its buoyancy largely attributed to the performance of antiseptics & disinfectants (+53.1%) during the pandemic. Lifestyle CHC grew by +2.4%, driven by double-digit increases in sedatives & sleep aids (+14.5%) as well as smaller categories such as obesity treatments, emergency hormonal contraception and erectile dysfunction.

Gastrointestinals returned a low level increase (+1.2%), while analgesics saw a decline of -1.8% globally, with systemics down -4.3%, largely owing to the effects of pantry loading at the start of the pandemic. Cough, cold & allergy saw the strongest decline, with sales falling by -14.5% in the 12 months to end March. Pantry loading, as well as the effects of lockdown restrictions, social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene measures resulted in significantly reduced incidence of respiratory pathologies.

At a time when consumers are highly aware of the importance of maintaining their immune system, we are pleased to announce that Immunity will be the focus of our next hot topic report! We will review a number of categories including antivirals, immune supplements and vitamins C & D and explore the latest launch activity, plus much more. To pre-order your copy and save with the pre-publication discount, or to find out more, please contact Melissa.Lee@NicholasHall.com.

Seasonal respiratory viruses re-emerge post-Covid

Recent reports from the UK and USA suggest a severe cold & flu season may be in store during winter 2021-22. With lockdown restrictions, increased hygiene measures and social distancing in force for over a year to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19, the incidence of common respiratory viruses has been very low. However, with the lack of exposure to illnesses (especially among young children), many of us have not built up antibodies and as a result our immune systems may have been inadvertently weakened.

This has prompted warnings of a potential surge in influenza as measures are lifted; data released this week by the UK’s Office of National Statistics show that in the week ending 11th June, 84 death certificates issued in England & Wales mentioned Covid, while 1,163 deaths involving flu and pneumonia were registered. Additionally, a recent study by the Houston Methodist Research Institute shows the rapid re-emergence of seasonal respiratory viruses following the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions in Texas in March 2021.

This trend was also reported in a recent article in STAT, in which Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist who monitors which viruses are circulating via the Nextstrain service, was quoted as saying: “Just in the last month [May 2021] or so we’ve started to pick up small amounts of seasonal coronavirus, RSV, metapneumovirus, etc. It’s the first time since April 2020 where we’re starting to see other things circulating.”

There is particular concern that by the time universities, colleges, schools and nurseries reopen this autumn across the northern hemisphere, there will be perfect conditions for high transmission of seasonal respiratory viruses, particularly RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Andrew Pavia, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah, warned: “There will be two years’ worth of kids who are naïve to RSV, instead of one birth cohort. That could be fertile ground for a big RSV year.”

Epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, a member of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said in a BBC interview that we must be prepared for a potentially “quite significant” flu epidemic and increased hospitalisations this winter. To help save National Health Service resources, researchers are investigating whether seasonal flu jabs and a Covid vaccine can be administered at the same time.

We are pleased to announce that our Eye Health report is now published and available to order! You can review case studies of key brands, NPD activity and much more. Plus, ensure you have registered for the free webinar on 30 June here to discuss the topline findings. For more information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

European e-Conference report 2021

In this week’s blog, we highlight the key takeaways from our recent European e-Conference and take a closer look at one of the slides from Nicholas Hall’s Global Trends presentation, looking at the fastest-growing brands in consumer healthcare over the past five years.

Nicholas Hall Writes: 100 delegates from around the world joined us in late April for our first-ever e-Conference, and many more are expected to listen to the recording. The conference reviewed global and European trends in the consumer healthcare market, the impact of Covid, changing consumer attitudes and the omnichannel shopper journey, the digital revolution and our forecasts for the future. These and many other topics were covered under the banner of “A Glimpse into the New Normal”.

There is no denying that “immunity” is the biggest buzzword in consumer healthcare at the moment, and has produced some amazing results. We’ve just completed an analysis of the new DB6 data, looking at the fastest-growing brands over the past five years. Just to be clear, this is drawn from the 200 biggest brands and excludes those specifically from China, which are very largely formulated with traditional Chinese medicine. Sambucol, a brand I love dearly and have used for 20 years, shows up as the second fastest growing brand. Only Biofreeze (to be acquired by Reckitt in a deal expected to complete in Q2 2021) has grown faster during this period.

Source: Nicholas Hall’s DB6 database. All values US$mn at MSP.

CHC Insight Europe Editor Sarah Carter and Researcher / Writer Nathalie Corbett filed this report summarising various highlights from our European e-Conference:

  • There is an increased consumer focus on prevention, not just in terms of avoiding Covid-19, but also awareness that people with better overall health have better lifestyle outcomes. Many consumers are no longer looking for treatment, but instead seek to safeguard their future health.
  • During the pandemic, the health consumer has evolved from patient to “consum’actor”, who uses their purchasing power to protect the values and causes they believe in.
  • The consumer is in control of our industry and we need to deliver on their expectations. The best medicine is a consumer who is informed, empowered and inspired.
  • The way consumers shop has been severely disrupted and perhaps irrevocably altered by the pandemic. The CHC industry must respond with agility in order to successfully compete in this omnichannel landscape.
  • Consumers cross these different channels in a way that’s seamless, with lines blurring between communication, point of purchase, advertising, etc.
  • It’s all about the data – get this data culture deeply embedded at all levels of your organisation. It’s also about the right data, and not being inundated with data that isn’t useful. Identify the relevant KPIs and target those.
  • Tech and Big Data can help us gather insights and use these to deliver relevant business developments and product innovations. Consumers themselves are increasingly generating a wealth of data, including via self-monitoring devices.
  • Online can offer opportunities that offline cannot, even when it comes to personal advice. Digital interactions are sometimes preferable vs crowded stores / time constraints.
  • But pharmacies still account for 76% of purchases, and have a superb chance to fight back and regain market share provided they collect new insights into their customers’ shopping journeys.
  • We should no longer refer to e-commerce, but rather e-life. Platforms like Amazon are increasingly media hubs rather than just online stores.
  • Brand building is more important than ever as consumers adapt to the New Normal. We must be present and relevant and focus on creating an emotional bond with the consumer, a traditionally weak area.
  • There can be no return to old strategies and the old way of doing business. It is time for new strategies and New Paradigms.

We hope you enjoyed our European e-Conference 2021! If you couldn’t attend, you can still purchase a recording of the meeting by contacting elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.comImmunity & other Growth Drivers will be the focus of our next round of regional hot topic webinars. Starting with a focus on Asia-Pacific on 19 May, on the Americas on 23 June and concluding with Europe on 21 July. Please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com to find out more.

WHO highlights shortage of innovative antibiotics

The world is still failing to develop desperately-needed antibacterial treatments, despite the urgent threat of antibiotic resistance, according to a World Health Organisation report. None of the 43 antibiotics in clinical development sufficiently address drug resistance in the most dangerous bacteria. The majority offer limited clinical benefit over existing treatments, while 82% of recently-approved antibiotics are derivatives of older products with well-established drug-resistance.

WHO highlights 27 non-traditional antibacterial agents, ranging from antibodies to bacteriophages, and therapies that support the patient’s immune response and weaken the bacteria’s effect. However, while there are some promising products in development, only a fraction will make it to the market, owing to economic and scientific challenges. The low return on investment from successful products has limited the interest of major private investors and most large pharma players, and the small to medium-sized companies driving the pipeline often struggle to finance their products through to regulatory approval. 

Source: World Health Organization

Nicholas Hall Writes: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water (to quote the movie “Jaws”), the World Health Organisation reminds us that there could be more and worse to come. The worldwide pharma industry has responded magnificently to Covid, and if a fraction of that effort went into the search for new antibiotics, we could perhaps avoid the next and possibly much worse pandemic, when superbugs attack mankind. I’m not referring to hacking from within the Dark Web, but bacteria for which existing antibiotics will be unable to cope! One medical expert has described this as making Covid look like a vicarage tea party!

To quote WHO: “Opportunities emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic must be seized to bring to the forefront the needs for sustainable investments in R&D of new and effective antibiotics … We need a global sustained effort including mechanisms for pooled funding and new and additional investments to meet the magnitude of the AMR (antimicrobial resistance) threat.” So I hope that Big Pharma will recycle the windfall from Covid vaccines into new antibiotic research, otherwise we will have many more years of lockdown!”

Immunity will be the focus of our next round of regional hot topic webinars, starting with a focus on Asia-Pacific on 19 May, followed by the Americas on 23 June and Europe on 21 July. Please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com to find out more about these upcoming sessions.