KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are faithful vitamin poppers with around half of the population (52%) found to be consuming vitamins and dietary supplements, ranking them fourth in the Asia Pacific region and seventh globally,
according to findings from the latest survey by international market research firm, The Nielsen Company.
The online survey undertaken across 52 countries highlights the importance of vitamins and dietary supplements in the lives of people around the world. Usage is more prevalent in North America and Asian countries than Europe and Latin America. Highest levels of usage were recorded in Philippines and Thailand where two thirds (66%) of those surveyed claimed to use the products, with the USA not
far behind at 56 percent.
“Urbanites find it tough to stick to a well-balanced diet and meal-skipping is quite common given the frenetic pace of city life. Hence, it’s not surprising that many consume vitamins and dietary supplements to ensure that they get enough nutrients that might be missing from their diet,” commented Ms Sujata Mehta, Director of Consumer Research, The Nielsen Company Malaysia. Among Malaysians who consume vitamins or dietary supplements, 66 percent claim to make it a daily ritual, much higher than their regional counterparts who averaged 47 percent. Denmark tops the global ranking, scoring 81 percent for daily intake. Overall, less than 60 percent of global consumers are regular daily users.
“It is obvious regional considerations play an important role with vitamins and dietary supplement products. Daily usage is prevalent in the more developed economies of Western Europe and North America compared to most Asian and Middle Eastern markets. This could be an indication of the types of products used and the routine in which they are taken, but also of the economics of daily usage and the reasons for usage,” added Mehta.
The primary benefit that consumers globally are expecting from their usage is “to boost their immune system”. Over 60% of consumers chose this option globally and 39 out of 52 countries had this as their top response. This is also the case in Malaysia where 79 percent choose strengthening their immunity as their top consuming reason. One other important driver for usage among locals was the response "to ensure my
diet is balanced" (56%).
“Manufacturers have eagerly latched onto this growing consumption trend and aggressively marketed their host of healthcare products such as multi-vitamins as well as traditional herbal-based products which are also very popular here,” said Mehta. Based on Nielsen Advertising Information Services (AIS) data, vitamins and tonics products ranked as the sixth highest advertising category in 2008 valued at RM100 million, a whopping 39% growth over 2007.
Meanwhile, the survey also explored the reasons why respondents claim they do not use vitamins and dietary supplement products, providing a range of options to choose from. Nearly half of all respondents who do not consume these products said they did not see any need for them. This was the top response in 42 out of the 52 countries, including Malaysia (48%) and was particularly strong in Europe (55%).
Interestingly, among Malaysian respondents who claim to never consume vitamins and dietary supplements, 44 percent cited the expensive price tags as a deterrent. Close to one fourth (26%) also find it too confusing to understand what products to use. “It would seem that locals shy away from these products not because they don’t want to but rather they are put off by the high prices and mind-boggling array of information,” said Mehta, adding that manufacturers can address these concerns by embarking on educational roadshows and health themed campaigns for their targeted customers.