Supplement Use Remains Strong; Consumer Confidence Declining

Nearly Two-thirds Of American Adults Take Dietary Supplements

Monday, September 18, 2006

Washington, DC — A new Ipsos Public Affairs telephone survey indicates that 65 percent of adult Americans take dietary supplements, according to survey results released at the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) annual conference on dietary supplements being held this week at the Royal Sonesta, Cambridge, Mass. This number remains consistent with the survey’s annual results from 2003 (65 percent), 2004 (62 percent) and 2005 (64 percent).

The survey of 1,002 adults nationwide was also consistent with a companion survey from Ipsos Public Affairs of 2,022 adults conducted via the Internet that found 62 percent take supplements. However, the telephone and Internet surveys indicated a difference in the regularity of usage; 46 percent of those surveyed on the Internet identified themselves as regular users versus 29 percent in the same category from the telephone survey.

According to Judy Blatman, vice president, communications, CRN, “It’s likely that telephone surveys attract a different psychographic than those who took the survey via the Internet. We believe that those who use the Internet regularly may be more likely to take control of their own health-care choices, with an increased ability to research healthcare issues and products. Therefore, it makes sense that people who are Internet users and responded on-line would be more likely to use healthful products like supplements on a regular basis. Whether people are using supplements regularly, or seasonally as in the case of some of the herbals, it’s clear that these are mainstream healthcare products—with more than 150 million Americans taking them annually.”

The telephone survey also found a decline in consumer confidence over a six-year period, with 2006 results indicating 69 percent of those surveyed expressed overall confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements versus 74 percent in 2001, with a high of 78 percent in 2004. Confidence was stronger among those surveyed via the Internet, with results demonstrating the confidence level at 79 percent.

“The Internet results are reassuring,” said Ms. Blatman, “but since we don’t have trended data yet for that method, we have no true baseline to determine whether confidence is eroding for the Internet responders. However, the results of the telephone survey indicate consumer trust is waning, and that should be of great concern to this industry. Clearly we have an important job to do to boost confidence, but we also have an opportunity to increase usage by educating consumers about the safety, quality and benefits of our products.”

Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN, believes that there are things the industry can do to help boost consumer confidence for dietary supplements. “We need to continue to be vigilant about responding to misinformation and correcting misinterpretation of scientific research when it occurs. In addition, we need to start telling our own story—to refocus the discussion on who takes supplements, why they take them, and the health benefits supplements provide. There are also several projects underway that should make a difference, including a new self-regulatory advertising initiative introduced by CRN in partnership with the National Advertising Division (NAD) and legislation currently in the Senate strongly supported by CRN and the other trade associations that would mandate reporting of serious adverse events by manufacturers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These initiatives underscore the commitment of supplement manufacturers to put their customers first. We’re proud of this industry’s products and we will continue to do what needs to be done to improve the fortunes of this industry.”

Ipsos Public Affairs fielded two surveys in August that was funded by CRN. The first, consisting of 1,002 completed telephone interviews, was conducted annually for the seventh consecutive year, providing important trending data. The second survey, also fielded in August was an on-line survey of 2,022 people, and was first fielded in 2005. The random sample of U.S. adults aged 18+, and results were weighted to represent the U.S. adult population.

For more information on this press release, please contact:
Chris Deeney
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
Chicago, IL

About Ipsos Public Affairs
Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research company made up of campaign and political polling veterans as well as seasoned research professionals. The company conducts strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research but often elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research. It has offices in Chicago, New York City, Ottawa, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C., with affiliates around the world. Ipsos Public Affairs conducts national and international public opinion polling on behalf of The Associated Press, the world’s oldest and largest news organization. Ipsos Public Affairs is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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Supplement Use Remains Strong; Consumer Confidence Declining

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Chris Deeney
Senior Vice President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs