Examining US and UK supplement retail purchasing behavior

January 12, 2021

By some estimates, over 90% of the global population has been in some form of lockdown with dramatic changes in lifestyle and behavior in recent months. While we don’t know exactly what will happen as lives begin to return to some form of normalcy, we know that in many ways we have now stepped down an unpredictable path with new norms.

Trust Transparency Center captured a snapshot of April dietary supplement behavior shifts in shopping behavior in our most recent survey. We asked 1000 US and UK consumers the question: “Which best describes your current purchasing pattern of dietary (food) supplements.” The responses are below, for the US, with almost one third (32.6% of US consumers) indicating no shopping behavior change. In the UK, 31.6% of consumers stated no change. The next most popular answer was ‘buying from retailers that have what I need’ (21.5% UK, 20.5% US) and ‘I only buy from local retailers’ (19.2% US, 19.2% UK). Even the 4th answer was exactly the same across the US and UK consumers surveyed (14.0% UK, 14.1% US), ‘I buy from big online retailers like Amazon’.

US Data

UK Data

The fact that the responses are identical in both markets is not surprising as both the UK and US have followed similar trajectories over recent months and market and economic pressures are also similar. Additionally, the shopping channel options resemble each other, with a mix of national and regional options and an increasingly viable and dynamic online channel. The fact that one-third of consumers have not changed their behavior is a bit surprising, as other data sources have suggested that online buying, especially for supplements, was increasing. We had also heard that reliable supply was an issue, so the fact that consumers shopping behavior was following product availability certainly made sense. The movement to local buying is a phenomenon to watch over the next few months. As normal social patterns have been interrupted, consumers are supporting their own neighborhoods, looking for supply chains to be repatriated locally where possible, and have established an increasingly personal connection with where they buy. Of course, this desire for local is at odds on many ways with supply chain realities so it will bear watching to see how repatriation and supply chain transparency mix – or not.

Going back to the survey responses. The demographic breakdown was interesting. In the US, 44% of females said their behavior had not changed, compared to 36% of males. In the UK, those numbers were 44 and 41% respectively. In buying from large online retailers like Amazon, males and females were equal in the US, while in the UK, it was skewed female (51% to 36%). In both the US and UK, more males are buying in bulk.

Breaking down behavior by age showed that younger UK consumers ages 18-34 were more likely to migrate towards large online retailers like Amazon than US consumers (37% versus 19%) while supply was a major concern with older US consumers aged 55 and up, relative to UK consumers (38% shopping based on supply versus 29%). The preference for smaller online retailers was slightly higher in the UK.

US Data

UK Data

We’ll track these behavior patterns throughout the next few months, and suspect that many consumers are paying increased attention to their supplement regimen, will next be examining consumer compliance – are consumers taking and reordering supplements with more regularity?

Stay tuned.


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Lori Diez

Lori Diez combines compassion and excellence to lead organizations to their next level. A small-town Texas childhood taught her the value of hard work and relationships, which she uses to foster teamwork that brings results that have transformed cultures and programs to their highest potential. Her successful career in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales leadership and event hosting has prepared her to deliver results as the COO of TrustTransparency, where she uses her industry knowledge to ensure that the company’s operations run smoothly as they support nutraceutical companies in their mission to help others. Lori’s passion for charity reflects her belief that individuals working together can change the world, no matter how small their contribution to the effort. This year, she looks forward to continuing over a decade of service at the Houston Livestock Show And Rodeo, where she will be the Chairman of the Livestock Committee.

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Glynnda Steinford

Glynnda Steinford, Trust Transparency Consulting’s Director of Customer Relations, brings over four decades of healthcare experience to her vital role in client engagement and relationship building. Her diverse background spans from administering medical groups to impactful stints in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales, all underlined by her degree in Healthcare Administration.

At the heart of Glynnda’s work is her talent for nurturing long-term connections, a skill she leverages to enhance client experiences and partnerships within the consultancy. Beyond her professional commitments, she enjoys life’s simple pleasures, whether it’s her love for cats and cooking or her ventures into golf, always prioritizing cherished moments with family and friends. Her personal interests echo the dedication and warmth she extends in her professional network, making her an invaluable asset to the team.

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Caiti Dowden stands as a crucial pillar at Trust Transparency Consulting, bringing invaluable insight and expertise to her role as Senior Executive Assistant’ since her start in 2018. With an academic background from Sam Houston University and a career shift from education to the nutraceutical sphere in 2010, Caiti has cultivated a sharp acumen for dissecting industry trends and bolstering strategic decision-making.

Her transition from Data Analyst reflects her growth and deep understanding of the business landscape. Caiti’s commitment goes beyond professional excellence; she thrives on balance, drawing from her rich life outside of work to enhance her organizational contributions. Whether it’s family time, volunteering, or rooting for Houston’s sports teams, she believes in embracing experiences to fuel her professional creativity and insight.

In her current role, Caiti’s dedication to dynamic business analysis and operational support proves her to be an irreplaceable asset to our team, embodying the synergy of personal enrichment and professional success.

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Pam Hilpert, Chief of Staff at Trust Transparency Consulting, has been instrumental in the firm since its inception, leveraging her 17 years of accounting experience, including a significant tenure in the nutrition sector. Her collaboration with Scott Steinford spans various successful ventures, emphasizing her integral role in the company’s financial and strategic initiatives.

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Scott Steinford, a trailblazer in strategic leadership, boasts a certified M&A background, having navigated companies from their genesis to industry prominence. His brainchild, Trust Transparency Consulting, born in 2007, stands as a testament to his dedication to ethical business practices and strategic foresight, offering industry stakeholders invaluable guidance.

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Notably, Scott’s influence is a driving force in the CoQ10 market, where his leadership has significantly bolstered the ingredient’s global presence. His roles in various capacities, including as a New Hope Ambassador, keep the community informed, providing in-depth industry reports and insights.

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