As a response to the growing demands of an increasingly health-conscious and aging Italian population, the nutritional supplements sector has moved beyond a trendy, niche consumer market to a rapidly maturing industry. Despite the global economic crisis, this industry has experienced consistent growth in the past few years and 2009 has witnessed new product launches. While pharmacies continue to be the primary distribution channel for nutritional
supplements, other retail outlets, including supermarkets, are beginning to extend shelves to these products in response to increased consumer demand. Moreover, buyers within this market
are sophisticated consumers, seeking advice from experts.
Holding a sizeable portion of the overall health products market, the Italian market for nutritional supplements is mature and highly competitive. In 2009 the industry was valued at more than 1.5
billion euro. Despite the economic crisis, this sector has been growing constantly at an annual rate of 12.5 percent. The Italian nutritional supplements market is comprised of more than 1,200
companies with approximately 25,000 employees. Products which are well received in this market include the following: vitamins, minerals, and energy and weight-loss supplements. The recent launch of new products and augmented sales of existing ones have contributed to the sector’s growth. Close to 8,000 supplement products presently sit on Italian store shelves, with 2,271 having just been introduced this past year. In total, 3,555 brands have an established presence in the Italian market.
Over nine million Italians have opted for natural medicine as a way to improve their health, twothirds of which are women. Surveys indicate that 35 percent of Italian consumers are faithful purchasers of nutritional supplements. They report using food supplements on a regular basis, with 62 percent of consumers reporting that they have purchased health products over the past two years. According to FederSalus (Italian Federation of Health Product Producers), the growth in the health food and product industry indicates that a large part of the Italian population considers these products to be a necessity as they help maintain an individual’s general state of
wellness. Studies show that of those who currently purchase supplements 46.1 percent purport to use these products for maintenance of health while 42.8 percent consume these products to
address a more narrowly-defined health concern Moreover, the Italian market for supplements is comprised of highly knowledgeable consumers, with more than half seeking medical advice from a physician prior to making their selection. One-third of consumers report conducting their own research and two-thirds of all supplement consumers use the internet to assist in decisionmaking.