Disease Snapshot: Immune Defence in The US

December 2017

Vitamin and dietary supplements (VDS) positioned as “immune boosters” or for “immune support” are very popular in the US market and growing more so, as consumers look to natural, preventive products to stave off seasonal colds and the flu. Loose restrictions around health claims make it easy for new products to enter the market, and consumers are increasingly drawn toward VDS products directed at a broader health positioning (such as “immunity” and “energy”) over products for a specific symptom.

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Vitamin and dietary supplement (VDS) products positioned towards immune defence are very popular in the US

More than two thirds of US consumers report routine use of VDS products, and the vast majority also report trusting VDS products to be safe and to do what they claim they will do. Of these consumers, almost 30% report taking VDS products positioned for “immune health” or “immune support.”

FDA regulations make it very easy for VDS products to claim “immune defence” properties

It is very easy for VDS products to claim a role in immune support, too, since the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has very loose restrictions regarding what a VDS product can legally claim that it does. Because it is so easy for new products to enter this space, more and more products are being released in the US market, driving up competition.

Positioning strategy is key for VDS products, as American consumers readjust their purchasing preferences away from symptoms and more toward systems

Within consumer health, and VDS in particular, consumers are increasingly shifting their purchasing choices away from products directed at a specific symptom (like “pain”) and more towards products that address wider health systems (such as “immune support”, “energy boosting”, or “heart health”.) Broader health benefits are preferred to individual benefits that may not have as prolonged or extensive results.

Emergen-C (Pfizer) and Airborne (Reckitt Benckiser) lead sales of immune defence products but competition is growing

Among products positioned for immune defence, the US market is dominated by Emergen-C (Pfizer) and Airborne (RB). Sales of both products have grown rapidly in recent years, with increases in absolute retail value sales of USD102 million and USD44 million, respectively, between 2012 and 2017.

Key findings
Immune boosting products are very popular in the US
Components of immune defence products
Vitamin B and probiotics lead the single supplement market
Product positioning shifting away from symptoms and towards state
Personalisation is the positioning of the future
It’s easy for these products to claim a share in the market…
…though can result in legal action if the claim is called into question
And despite similar claims, component makeups differ widely (1)
And despite similar claims, component makeups differ widely (2)
And despite similar claims, component makeups differ widely (3)
Emergen-C and Airborne lead sales in immune defence
New immune products take further advantage of positioning options
And outside products are further muddying the immune defence space
The overlapping world of hangover remedies
Trends driving future growth


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