Sports nutrition and weight loss could be seen as the categories of aspiration. Consumers want to get back in shape or in
better shape or just look good in a bathing suit. Some may want a performance edge, whether that’s in a triathlon or just
lapping their friends on a run around the park. Others might be worried about losing that edge, using exercise and fi nely
tuned nutrition to stay lean, strong and fast well past retirement.
All of that is aspiration—the yearning for the better you.
But to call sports nutrition and weight loss only aspirational is to ignore urgent need.
The United States doesn’t lead the globe in obesity and the toll of the sedentary existence. We just paved the way. All those
billions spent on developing edible indulgence and all the billions spent on advertising to justify it as a basic right—meat
lovers deserve their own pizza!—cost billions more in healthcare.
It’s that crisis that makes sports nutrition and weight loss something more than the luxury of vanity and aspiration. Th e
products in these categories can help meet the most pressing health need in modern society.
Americans spent an estimated $384 billion on fast food last year. NBJ research shows sales in sports nutrition and weight
loss grew to $35 billion. Nobody would expect nutrition sales to approach fast food sales, but the magnitude of the super-
sized expenditures creates not just opportunity for sports nutrition and weight loss but perhaps an obligation to reach
out and slam the drive-through window shut.
Whether or not the fl abby results of all those value meals is driving the nutrition market, NBJ did see sales growth in
sports nutrition and weight loss accelerate in 2015. In 2014, growth was 6.3 percent, stronger than the industry as a whole
but still lower than just a few years ago. It increased to 7.7 percent in 2015, despite a barrage of bad press across the supplement
industry in general with some of the darkest headlines hanging over sports nutrition.
That 7.7 percent is a substantial improvement over the 5.9 percent growth for the supplement industry as a whole, and
seeing the uptick is more proof that the categories are worth both nurturing and protecting. A coalition of executives and
insiders are doing just that—trying to track new ingredients before they become those negative headlines. Industry-wide
reforms that include ingredient identity, a product registry, and clearer GMP standards may help sports nutrition and
weight loss more than any other category.
So the industry grows as the need for the product grows, but it’s not clear how the two are linked, at least in the marketing.
The question becomes how to position the categories to grow even faster, to meet that growing need.
Some of the answers, as always, are going to be found in the data, and the NBJ Sports Supplements and Weight Loss
report delivers not just the data but the analysis on how the numbers are shaped by innovation and market forces. Th at’s
where the NBJ Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss Report becomes a tool to better tune the categories to meet those
In the Report business leaders learn:
Not just which ingredients are selling but where they are selling best
How the data and innovation may guide smart companies to new markets
How companies might best avoid the negative headlines that plague the categories
Of course, the important corollary to what’s selling is who’s selling it. Th at’s where the NBJ company profi les, with corresponding
sales fi gures, provide a template on what strategies and models are best positioned to succeed.
Sales and success, of course, drive every company, but the cause focus in the business plan may be increasingly important.
Aspiration has taken the industry a long way, but a mission statement tied to the global need for nutrition specifi c to a
lean and active lifestyle might take it even further. Th e industry could off er a balanced selection of products that support
the journey to a fi tter self. Th e people who need the most help might not be motivated by before-and-after beach body
pictures or tales from the triathlon circuit. Th e best message for the hordes pulling away from those drive-through windows
might be more about health and less about “results.”
Th ose consumers need to know that the real results are feeling better not feeling faster. Th ey need to know that feeling
stronger can be about feeling well, not how much they can bench press.
Th at’s the story sports nutrition and weight loss companies need to tell. Being fi t is a lot more than fi tting into a bathing
Maybe that is aspiration, with a more solid mix of motivation thrown in.