Senior couple laughing outside

Baby Boomers Make Up a Major Segment of the Nutritional Supplement Market

Baby boomers make up a powerful consumer segment. There are 75 million of them in the United States and they aren’t getting any younger. As boomers approach retirement age, they are hoping to continue to live active lives, focusing on preventive medicine and healthy aging. With this trend comes a strong interest in nutritional supplements, especially those that may reduce the risk of age-related diseases or the physical signs of aging.

Compared to their parents’ generation, baby boomers are living longer. This has led to high demand for products perceived to reduce the inconveniences of age-related health conditions. According to Euromonitor, the dietary supplements market reached $109 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow annually by 5% to 2024.1 Boomers want to maintain their health, and they are willing to spend money on products they believe will help them achieve their goals.

What Drives Baby Boomers to Seek Out Supplements?

As people age, their metabolism slows, but even as their caloric needs decrease, their bodies may need higher doses of many nutrients. To complicate things further, the body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients can decrease with age.2 For this reason, vitamin D and calcium deficiencies are common in older adults.3 

This paradox puts baby boomers between a rock and a hard place. Eating too much for their age and activity level can lead to serious health conditions such as obesity or heart disease. If they reduce their caloric intake, they may not get enough of key nutrients in their diets. Additionally, sense of taste diminishes with age, leading people to eat less.4 This can increase the risk of malnutrition.

Certain key nutrients can be helpful with maintaining cognition, bone strength, muscular and vascular function, and supporting the immune system. Getting enough of these nutrients becomes more and more difficult with age. Besides a balanced diet, boomers may need to supplement key nutrients to help prevent age-related diseases.

What Nutrients Do Boomers Want?

Baby boomers top the list of nutritional supplement users in the US. Now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, boomers are more concerned with healthy aging than their parents’ generation, and they are also more proactive about health and wellness. They may seek nutritional supplements and/or functional foods designed to support general wellness. In a global study conducted by Glanbia Nutritionals, we surveyed consumers between the ages of 55 and 70 in the US, UK and China to determine the top health benefits they didn’t know much about but were interested in learning more. Below are the top 5 benefits:

China United States United Kingdom
Sleep support Brain & cognitive health Healthy aging
Heart health Eye health Brain & cognitive health
Bone health Healthy aging Mental health
General health Mental health Sleep support
Healthy aging Sleep support Digestive health

Deficiencies in key nutrients may have an effect on reaching optimal levels of these health benefits. In an effort to be proactive about their health, studies have shown that boomers are the most frequent users of supplements globally. Half of those supplement users between 55-70 years indicate they take at least one supplement once a day, with only about 44% of their younger counterparts doing so.6 Their proactivity fuels the supplement market as they seek measures that can help them stave off the effects of aging.

Proper nutrition may also support age-related eye health declines. According to the National Eye Institute, supplementing lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids can help to protect your eyes as you age. These nutrients are antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress, filtering out free radicals that have the potential to cause damage to the eyes.

According to the National Institutes of Health, deficiencies of calcium and other bone-supporting nutrients in the diet can lead to low bone mass, high fracture rates, and osteoporosis. Supplementation of calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium has been shown to reduce these risks. These nutrients are essential for the growth, mineralization, and maintenance of healthy bone.

Senior couple smiling at phone

Custom Nutrient Premixes -- An Optimal Combination

As baby boomers increasingly turn to supplements in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, choosing the right combination of ingredients for your products is essential to appeal to this powerful consumer segment. With our Custom Nutrient Premixes, we deliver precise combinations of nutrients—vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other functional ingredients like fibers, gums, amino acids, proteins, and botanicals. Because these premixes are specially blended to suit your unique food or supplement product, you can customize your premix to include the nutrients that are most attractive to baby boomer consumers -- or any other generational segment. Because our custom nutrient premixes are optimized for each customer, they provide maximum benefits in a single blend.

What Marketing Messages Resonate with Boomers?

When marketing your products to baby boomer consumers, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Quality of life and preventive health are key concerns for baby boomers. They believe that nutrition can have a positive influence on their health. They also know that foods and beverages can improve health, boost energy, and help to prevent disease and maintain a youthful appearance. As a result, boomers spend more on groceries than other generational groups, seeking out nutritional supplements and functional foods that contribute to their well-being or overall health.

Rather than doing extensive research, boomers tend to make buying decisions quickly.

Of the boomers we survey, 60% rely on health benefits called out on the label of products. Over half of them look for clinical research and/or research the supplement online before purchase.7 They see themselves as vital and active, responding best to positive messages that highlight their continued vitality, rather than playing off of their fears of fragility or declining health.

Boomers prefer to stand out as individuals rather than conform to a crowd. The total experience of eating is important to this segment and they enjoy trying new foods and learning new cooking techniques. Foods or supplements that contribute to heart health, joint health, immunity, cognitive health, are most appealing.

Man lifting child up in the air in a field

Mentally sharp, media/internet savvy and well educated, baby boomers make their own decisions, so marketing messages that target them directly are more effective than those directed at caregivers. They’re not of the era of 140-character messages, so traditional marketing methods, including slower-paced videos with text overlay or copy-heavy print campaigns that include testimonials, are effective ways to educate boomers about a product and spark a connection. Trust in a brand, whether it stems from a connection to other users, developing a relationship with the sales people, or identifying with the product, is crucial. 

Baby boomers make up a massive and powerful consumer segment. Looking forward to an active post-career lifestyle, they aren’t simply retiring, they are redefining the meaning and process of aging. Hoping to age with more grace—and remain more active—than their parents, they seek nutritional products that will keep them healthy and feeling good. 

To learn more about how our Custom Nutrient Premixes can enhance your products, contact us today. If you interested in learning more about generational trends with not only boomers, but other cohorts as well, check out our Mega Trend Generation Me trend and how a generational lens can be used to frame other mega trends in the food & beverage space. 

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References

1.    Euromonitor, Vitamins & Dietary Supplements, December 2020.
2.    Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum. Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age: Workshop Summary. 2010.
3.    International Osteoporosis Foundation website, accessed February 2021. 
4.    Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum. Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age: Workshop Summary. 2010.
5.    Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Research, Global Supplement Survey, May 2019.
6.    Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Research, Global Supplement Survey, May 2019.
7.    Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Research, Global Supplement Survey, May 2019.

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