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New Research from CBD Marketing Confirms How Generational Preferences Affect Consumer Engagement with Dietary Supplement Brands
November 8, 2018
New Research from CBD Marketing Confirms How Generational Preferences Affect Consumer Engagement with Dietary Supplement Brands

LAS VEGAS (November 8, 2018) – A new study released today at the 2018 SupplySide West conference confirms the wisdom of the oft-quoted advice, “don’t assume.” In this case, it applies to dietary supplement brands that market their product(s) to consumers across different generational segments.

Conducted by CBD Marketing in Chicago, the study analyzed close to 500,000 social media posts (including blog posts) for a one-year period ending July 2018. Posts were related to supplement interest across three age-segmented groups: Boomers (age 55 +); Gen X (age 35–54) and Millennials (age 18–34). The social posts were generated by men (44 percent) and women (56 percent), with Millennials responsible for the greatest volume of posts at 47 percent of the total.

The research found that to be most effective, a supplement brand cannot assume one message or marketing tactic works for all consumer ages and types—even though the product(s) could have efficacy across multiple age categories. Each age-specific user group relates to supplement products based on their own preferences, experiences and interests.

“Consumers in all age groups are fueling the growth of the supplement industry, which is expected to be a $278 billion global market by 2024,” said Lori Colman, CBD Marketing’s Co-CEO, who presented the findings. “Even now, in 2018, 76 percent of U.S. adults report taking supplements—that’s 170 million Americans. To be most impactful with their marketing, the supplement industry needs to tune into nuances that are in plain view on social media.”

All these groups talk about and seek recommendations for supplements on social media platforms, making analyzing social media content a highly reliable barometer of consumer opinions. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 80 percent of Baby Boomers use supplements, 75 percent of Gen Xers are supplement users, as are 74 percent of Millennials.

Study findings include the following insights:

What Boomers Prefer

Boomers represent close to half of all consumer spending and spend an average of 11 hours per week online, researching and shopping. Healthy aging is a focus with interest around skin/muscle, joints, eye care, heart health, digestion and brain/memory. Marketing should stay positive and provide useful information.

  • Boomers want proven benefits and look for products related to healthy aging. They are wary of adverse health effects.
  • They prefer pills, vitamins, natural supplements, condition-specific products.
  • They avoid products with artificial ingredients, and with stated side effects.
  • Influencers include individuals who personify healthy aging, with advice on diet, weight loss and general health education.

What Gen X Prefers

This population is the most time-constrained and seeks a balance between work and personal life; they spend an average of 7 hours per week on social media. Gen Xers use supplements to address middle-age maladies. Their supplement conversations are largely food focused. Marketing should stress convenience, taste and use in everyday meals.

  • They view supplements as a food ingredient.
  • They want protein, particularly plant-based protein.
  • They prefer products with workout or weight management benefits.
  • They don’t want artificial ingredients, vitamin pills or products that have a bad taste or aftertaste.
  • Influencers include those who provide recipes, resources and consumer education on food, health and lifestyle.

What Millennials Prefer

Millennials encompass a wide age range and close to half are already parents. Most engage on social media daily. They distrust large institutions and their interests lean toward holistic health solutions, sports nutrition, energy and sleep. Their supplement conversations are very personal and often describe how they feel. Marketing should highlight how products are personalized to meet consumer needs, are sustainable and natural.

  • Protein powder is a very hot topic, especially plant-based. Protein drinks and shakes dominate.
  • They want natural ingredients, clean label products.
  • Fitness and their own general health and wellness are key.
  • They don’t want multi-vitamins, pills, incomplete proteins or anything with a gritty texture or aftertaste. NO to products from big pharma.
  • Influencers focus on fitness, personal wellness. Promoting brands is OK.

“It’s clear from our research that the idea that ‘one size fits all’ for product marketing—including social media marketing—is ludicrous,” said Colman. “Our study proves you can’t assume everyone buys your product for the same reason. Products, including supplements, are purchased for different reasons by different age, demographic or user groups. Marketing needs to resonate with, and reflect, audience-specific needs in order to be effective.”

About CBD Marketing: CBD is a Chicago integrated, digital-first marketing and advertising agency that builds strong connections between brands and the hearts and minds of their customers. Founded in 1988, CBD is celebrating its 30th year in business, serving national and global clients in food, food ingredients, manufacturing, energy, appliances, building products, education, retail, financial services and other industries. Companies and organizations count on CBD to Market What’s Meaningful®, building more intimate and profitable relationships in emotional and rational ways.

Jean Ban
CBD Marketing
312-661-1050 (O)
312-259-4648 (C)


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