Washington, D.C.—For the fourth year in a row, nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) report taking dietary supplements, according to the 2020 CRN Consumer Surveyfrom the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). The latest number do indicate a decrease in usage, at 73% in 2020, down from 77% in 2019, 75% in 2018, and 76% in 2017). CRN noted though, that the numbers are reflective of an upward increase since 2015 (71% in 2016 and 68% in 2015).

As WholeFoodspreviously reported, CRN's COVID-19 survey revealed that 43% of dietary supplement users have changed their supplement routines since the start of the pandemic, with 91% of this subset indicating that they had increased their intake in some way. CRN pointed out that though the proportion of supplement users in the COVID-19 survey also pointed to a dip in overall usage when compared to last year’s consumer survey (76% vs. 77% in 2019), the data indicates that, in addition to increases in sales market data, "a substantial segment of supplement users are taking more products" including users who are adding new supplements to their regimen and increasing the dose(s) and/or frequency of usage.
Related: 43% of Supplement Users Changed Usage Patterns Due to COVID

“When factoring in all survey variations, the ongoing pandemic, and viewing the data in the context of the last recession [64% in 2008 and 65% in 2009], four percentage points is not a major decline,” said Chris Jackson, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Ipsos, in a press release from CRN. “Other recently conducted surveys demonstrate that Americans are continuing to practice social distancing behaviors, and some continue to experience furloughs or work suspensions and to struggle affording household goods. All of these factors could be tied to limited retail access to supplements for consumers, sustained behavior changes causing consumers to feel less of a need for specialty supplements, and less disposable income to purchase products overall.”

CRN’s 2020 survey revealed that vitamins & minerals continue to be the most frequently mentioned supplement category with consumers; 98% of all supplement users reported usage in the past year. Usage has dipped for niche ingredients and categories, however: The second most popular category is specialty supplements (at 46%, down from 52% in 2019); followed by herbals & botanicals (44% versus 50% in 2019); sports nutrition (30% versus 36% in 2019), and weight management (19% versus 22% in 2019).

Brian Wommack, Senior Vice President, Communications,CRN, noted, “We’ve witnessed from CRN’s COVID-19 survey that the pandemic has not only encouraged the majority of Americans to be more conscious of their health and wellness, but the crisis has also forced consumers to adapt to the current reality and change some of their previous lifestyle behaviors. Results from the 2020 survey continue to demonstrate an intensified focus on ingredients to support overall health and wellness and immunity. More consumers are working from home, avoiding the gym, experiencing shopping restrictions, and juggling financial difficulties. So while we are witnessing dips for niche ingredients and categories, usage is steady among vitamin and mineral supplements, signaling an intensified focus on ingredients to support overall health and wellness.”

A closer look at CRN's findings:

Among American supplement users, female adults, adults aged 35+, adults with a higher household income, and adults with a college degree were most likely to report taking supplements.

Courtesy of CRN.

Overall health and wellness benefits remains the most cited reason to take supplements by all users, but more consumers are taking dietary supplements to support immune health. Immune health replaced energy as the second most popular reason; 32% citing immune health as their reason for supplementing (up from 27% in 2019).

Courtesy of CRN.

Additional new data in the 2020 survey include expanded questions on probiotics and delivery form preferences, CRN shared. More insights from both theCOVID-19 and 2020 surveyswill be presented to attendees at CRN’s virtual conference, Now, New, Next.CRNmembers and non-members can also purchase the results of theCRNConsumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. For more information on both the conference and the survey, contact Holly Vogtman (hvogtman@crnusa.org).
Related: CRN Announces Keynote Speakers for October Conference #Naturally Informed: Immune Health Supplement Education
Education opportunity: For a deep dive into the microbiome market, join WholeFoods Magazine and Trust Transparency Center on October 20-21, 2020 for a virtual event: Driving Opportunities in the Microbiome SpaceThis #NaturallyInformed event will provide expert insights on the latest science and technologies driving development, merchandising, and communication strategies, and the inside scoop on what will drive new opportunities in the market. Registration is open now at https://naturallyinformed.net/driving-opportunities-in-the-microbiome-space/.