Study Highlights: Vitamin Supplement Usage in Elderly


Posted on 23 February 2021 Yutian Shen & Catherine Chipeta


With a growing ageing population, it is increasingly important to acknowledge health concerns for the elderly. We would like to understand older people’s current usage of vitamin supplements to gain a clearer image of their needs as consumers.

The body’s ability to absorb nutrients through food becomes less efficient with age. This means it is harder for older people to consume the necessary amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, making vitamin supplements an ideal solution.

We surveyed more than 300 respondents over the age of 55 in the USA to understand their usage and attitudes in this U&A study. All respondents have concerns about personal health, are taking action to improve their health and wellbeing, and are also vitamin supplement users or considerers.

Here are some highlights from the survey’s findings:

Most vitamin users purchase at least once quarterly

Most vitamin users (96% of respondents) stated that they purchase vitamins at least once every 3 months (78%). Most users (49%) spent between $11-25 on their last purchase and about a quarter (22%) spent between $26-$50 on their most recent purchase.

More than three-quarters of respondents label themselves as ‘consistent vitamin users’, meaning the above spend likely reflects users who purchase ~once a month. It is also important to note that almost half (46%) of vitamin users are not the only user in the household, which could account for variations in last purchase spend versus consistency of use if the other user(s) is (are) also responsible for purchasing.

Vitamin usage and spend from U&A study

Vitamin considerers* would likely purchase Vitamin C and Vitamin D in tablet form

Of those respondents who are considering purchasing vitamins (3%), most are looking into Vitamin D and Vitamin C (84% for each). Solid, edible forms of consumption are the most popular for considerers. Tablet form is the most likely to be purchased (82%), followed by gummies (64%), possibly for ease of consumption.

*Please note that sample for vitamin considerers was incomplete at 11 responses

Vitamin considerers from U&A study

Vitamin users and considerers are price sensitive

Price is the greatest influence on purchasing decisions, with almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents stating it as such. Further pricing research would be required to determine the optimal pricing for specific vitamin and mineral products.

Over half of respondents consider ingredients and ease of use as the next most important factors. This could suggest that tablets are considered the easiest form to consume, as it is the most popular form amongst users and considerers.

Vitamin purchasing influences from U&A study

Most respondents widely believe vitamins are easy to take and store

We used Likert scale questions to uncover respondents’ attitudes towards vitamins, summarising answers using Top 2 box metrics. The vast majority of respondents believe vitamins are easy to take (96%) and easy to store (93%). These results suggest that consumers are mostly content consuming the most popular vitamin forms (tablets and gummies) and storing them in their current packaging.

Attitudes towards vitamins from U&A study

Most respondents engage in regular physical and outdoor activity

Three-quarters of respondents do engage in physical activity at least once a week and almost half (49%) had participated in an outdoor activity within a week of when the survey took place (26-28 October 2020). Most respondents are retired (62%), perhaps explaining the high levels of outdoor physical activity.

Respondent physical and outdoor activity frequency from U&A study

Other demographics worth noting include:

  • More than 80% of respondents suffer from differing degrees of health problems — likely a major contributor to choice of vitamin type taken.
  • Of those with health conditions, arthritis and osteoarthritis are most prevalent (38% and 23%, respectively), a likely influence on why over half (57%) of vitamin users do so to maintain bone health and over a third (36%) to maintain joint and ligament health.
  • Almost all (92%) of respondents are the main decision-makers when it comes to purchasing vitamins, meaning the sample reflects actual customers.

Download a copy of U&A Study of Vitamin Supplements survey results.

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