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11/12/2022

Q&A: GNC's Rachel Jones Details Supplement Trends of 2022 and Beyond

The health and wellness retailer's new chief product innovation and science officer talked to Store Brands about the supplement trends of the past year and what trends are expected heading into 2023.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture

Founded in 1935, GNC has become a retail leader in the health and wellness category, offering a wide variety of private label and retailer-exclusive products.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, consumers have looked to vitamins and supplements as a way of maintaining physical, immune and mental health. Rachel Jones, MS, RDN, who was recently promoted to the role of senior vice president and chief product innovation and science officer, spoke to Store Brands about category trends, and how the retailer is continuing to shape its private label portfolio.

STORE BRANDS: The health and wellness category has exploded since the pandemic began in 2020. How would you describe the trends that GNC saw in the supplement category in 2022?

 

RACHEL JONES: Since 2020 we’ve seen overall consumer behavior trends shift to focus more on preventative health and holistic solutions that are comprised of efficacious and good-for-you ingredients. Consumers are more interested and intentional about what they integrate into their wellness routine and how our products can play a key role in supporting their desire to Live Well.

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    Rachel Jones GNC
    Rachel Jones, MS, RDN, senior vice president and chief product innovation and science officer

    A few trends we’re excited about include:

    • Attention is shifting from immunity to proactive approaches to protecting overall health knowing this will benefit immune health. Also, natural solutions for anti-aging, sexual wellness, fertility and stress, and mental health are becoming more abundant.
    • Sugar-conscious solutions are also coming into focus with consumers looking to reduce sugar intake instead of looking it as part of a weight management or dietary approach. It’s more of a lifestyle shift.
    • Clean and green including things like “free-from” claims and extending into natural approaches and ingredient selections that are effective and support health goals.
    SB: How did trends change this year from the previous two years?


    RJ: We’re seeing a continuation of trends like convenience, flavor and delivery format dominate our consumers shopping patterns. And at GNC we respond to these trends by challenging ourselves to think creatively and rapidly assessing our product inventory to help more people Live Well. Our curated assortment is designed to offer solutions that can be personalized to our consumers goals, wellness levels and routines to ensure we’re helping them to live their healthiest and happiest lives.

    SB: What have been the best-selling supplement products at GNC this year?

     

    RJ:Concentration on holistic wellness continues to be important to our consumers with preventative products like our multivitamins and vitapak programs demonstrating strong market penetration as well as a growing interest in categories like sleep, stress, and on-the-go nutritional products. We’re also seeing spikes in protein and performance products like creatine which continues to play a core role in our business.

    In addition, new flavor collabs and partnerships are driving consumer interest and trial of other product offerings. These strong partnerships have allowed us to be nimble and adapt to the consumer landscape offering consumers new products that can help them to achieve their goals.

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    GNC The Honest Company
    Exclusive partnerships have been a major part of GNC's product strategy
    SB: Which private brand products gained the most traction?

     

    RJ: We’re continuing to focus on innovation across our GNC brands including Total Lean, GNC Beyond Raw, GNC Mega Men and GNC AMP. We launched Beyond Raw Concept X in spring 2022 which allowed us to further our depth of offerings and innovation in the pre-workout category while also offering insights that help to inform other new product development and innovations.

    As we look to 2023, we have several new flavor and product innovations slated to launch and are excited to continue to provide our consumers products that science-backed, produce results, and still taste great and fit well into their lifestyles.

    SB: What is the outlook for trends in 2023?

     

    RJ: In addition to the continuation of strong trends like holistic health, convenience, flavor, and delivery format there are some product and consumer experience trends that we foresee rising in importance in 2023 including:

    • Mental health – Interest in mental health is increasing. With attention being spread so thin (between the present while the virtual world is also ever-present), consumers are demanding innovation to help them to stay focused, to manage stress, and perform at their best.
    • Personalization – Access to true personalization has been a challenge. AI and other tech are making this former pipe-dream into a reality in the supplement space, and we expect to see major advancements here in 2023.
    • Digital health tech – Wearable tech has taken off and expanded our ability to support wellness goals. As this trend grows, we’ll see new AI-based solutions that can assess biomarkers through the tech we already wear and use in our daily lives.
    • Clean and natural solutions – Not only are consumers interested in clean and natural solutions, but there are increasingly more ingredients available to activate on this consumer trend. Identifying the benefits of naturally sourced ingredients and isolate them for use in finished consumer products is something we’re keen to see and learn more about.
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    GNC
    SB: Are there any trends you are seeing in the later part of this year that you think will gain traction next year?

     

    RJ: Because we anticipate the trends, we’ve seen throughout 2022 continuing to some extent, we expect to see evolutions of those focuses – holistic health, convenience, flavor, and delivery format – in 2023.

    For example, in 2023 holistic health could be shared by the desire for single products to provide greater benefits and value. This could take the form of consumers purchasing a product that is for both hydration and/or recovery or focus. Consumers are conscientious about what they’re consuming and want to find the most strategic wellness solutions that support their goals.

    In addition, the mindset of prevention versus treatment will continue to be prevalent. The macro environment in which we’ve lived for the last few years created a tangible way for people to understand how their health status (things like weight, blood pressure, smoking status, etc.) relates to likelihood of more severe illness. This is helping to shift a consumer mindset to a proactive approach instead of trying to solve for something after the fact.

    SB: Retailers often look to capitalize on micro-trends while still focusing on the category long-term. How do trends influence GNC's private label assortment?

     

    RJ: As the destination for health and wellness solutions, we want to be on the cutting edge of the newest advancements in products, solutions, and shopper needs. We’re constantly monitoring consumer and supplier trends to seek areas where we can apply a trend to our brands and products to help people Live Well.

    We also recognize our consumers have expectations for the products and experience at GNC. We continue to focus on providing products that are science-backed, high-quality and efficacious (regardless of the trends) while also ensuring consumers are able to work with our associates and coaches to work towards their unique wellness goals.