Food supplements: Witailer & Connexia analysis on online sales and social media trends

May 31, 2023

The supplement market continues to grow, both in traditional channels and, faster, in direct sales and online.

While spending in the sector reached USD 500 billion (just under EUR 440 billion) internationally in 2021 and is expected to grow by almost 7% by 2026, analysts estimate the value of the Italian market in 2020 at EUR 4.8 billion. The largest share is accounted for by food supplements with 3.8 billion (2.9% more than 2019).

Witailer’s Business Intelligence team - together with Connexia - has analysed the sector, taking the whole year 2022 as a reference period and trying to give some insights and trends emerging in the current year.

The world of supplements on and social media

In 2022, the estimated search volumes recorded by the Supplements category on amounted to 13.3 Mln, recording double-digit growth of +60% year on year. 

In general, all the main sub-categories of supplements included in the scope of analysis grow - that is, all types of supplements excluding those related to sports (protein supplements). With 3.2 Mln of estimated search volumes in 2022, “Vitamina B per integrazione alimentare” is the most relevant sub-category, with an increase of +62% annually. 

It is also interesting to note that the search for supplements, regardless of the area, seems to be concentrated on seasonal changes, particularly in conjunction with the transition from summer to winter, which promotes exhaustion.

Overall, the most relevant brand on the first page of Amazon’s search results (on both the organic and sponsored front) is Glory Feel, primarily favoured by its relevance to the categories Vitamin C/D and Hyaluronic Acid/Collagen. The brand made in Germany, founded in 2015 in Hamburg, has wisely used Amazon as a channel to enter the Italian market with a wide assortment of supplements and optimized content on the product page to tell its mission and the benefits of its products, as well as using social networks to make themselves known to the public through collaborations with industry influencers.

Evidence common to all sub-categories of supplements is Amazon, unlike other distribution channels such as online pharmacies, both a channel in which to be favoured are large formats for supplies from at least two months, in particular from 6 months (180 tablets) or 1 year + (365/400 tablets). 

Turning to social media, a web listening analysis carried out by Connexia has highlighted how the area in which the topic of "supplements" is most talked about is related to health and well-being: in particular, to strengthen the immune system before the coldest season and avert the most common diseases such as influenza. 

To confirm this trend, the hashtags most used are precisely #salute and #benessere which affect about 15% of the total mention, ranking respectively in second and third place if you exclude the main hashtag #integratori.

Analyzing the panorama of the "most popular" brands on social media, it emerged Equilibra - with a share of 27% - is the brand most shared and communicated during the analysis period, confirming itself as the reference point in the industry. On the podium then follow Solgar and Bioscalin, respectively at 17% and 9% share of voice.

The Vitamin B boom

Vitamin B generates two-thirds of the estimated search volumes for the segment “Vitamine Singole” (3.2M), growing by +62% year on year. The peak of research is concentrated in October (15% of the estimated research volumes for 2022) and driven by Vitamin B2, indicated to counteract fatigue and exhaustion that can characterize the transition from summer to autumn. 

Within the subcategory “Vitamina B per integrazione alimentare” the relevance of the research terms that specifically mention biotina (B9) or capelli, whose estimated research volumes almost double on an annual basis (+79% yoy) increases. Biotin is in fact known to stimulate the production of keratin that promotes strength and elasticity of the scalp in particular. This evidence has also emerged in web listening: in the period after the end of summer, there is more talk of hair care because the long exposure to sunlight tends to wear them out and dry them.  

Market leader in fall in Italy, also on Amazon, Bioscalin is the first brand for estimated volumes within the segment (75k, +10% YoY). The brand is not directly present on the channel and the currently listed products are sold by third parties. It is estimated that the most clicked product on Amazon Italy for the search term "bioscalin" (B01JSN8XYE)  has sold more than 500 units over the past 30 days.

Plant supplements and red rice yeast

Interesting in the category of Plant Supplements are the “Integratori di lievito di riso rosso”, responsible for about 1/3 of the estimated research volumes of the segment "plant supplements", increasing by +61% yoy. 

NB. When we talk about red rice for food integration, we normally refer to fermented red rice, which is obtained by fermenting red yeast on normal white rice. If fermented, yeast produces a substance called Monacolin K (from 22 June 2022 in the European Union it is forbidden to sell supplements that present amounts of Monacolin K higher than 3mg), able to lower blood cholesterol levels that, if present in too high quantities, it can cause cardiovascular disease.

The top-of-mind brand in the category "Integratori di lievito di riso rosso" is Armolipid which alone generates about 20% of total research volumes, growing by +16% year over year. Armolipid, a brand part of the Viatris group, specializes in dietary supplements to regulate cholesterol. The most clicked product for the search term "armolipid plus" (B01N6H653W) in the last thirty days has registered more than 11,000 units sold estimated and is the best-seller #2 within the whole macro-category  “Salute e cura della persona”.

(bestseller products on in Salute e Cura della persona - May 2023)

Emerging trends in 2023

The new edition of the Osservatorio Immagino di GS1 Italy - the half-year study that monitors the phenomena of consumption of Italians - has, in fact, detected an annual increase of +49% in the demand for spirulina.

And, as a natural consequence, this trend is also spreading online. In the first quarter of 2023, in fact, on, the search terms related to "spirulina ultra", have generated estimated volumes of 30.000. In particular:

  • spirulina ultra dimagrante” (21.2k)
  • spirulina ultra” (5.2k)
  • spirulina ultra dimagrante forte per dimagrire” (2.4k)
  • spirulina ultra dimagrante in offerta” (1.3k)

Spirulina ultra-slimming supplements do not seem to be sold on Amazon in Italy. 

NB. The most clicked products for the search terms related to "spirulina ultra" are not explicitly advertised as slimming, but mainly as supplements of Vitamin B and Iron. 

On Facebook and the web, several profiles advertise this type of supplement, such as the official profile of Spirulina Ultra, sold as a pack of 4 packs (treatment lasting 4 months, one pack per month) to € 49 (4 packs at the price of 1). 

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