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Formulating for Generation and Gender

Albion Minerals®
Generation and Gender Generation and Gender

No two individuals are exactly alike, but at certain stages, we tend to share common health concerns, characteristics and traits. Of course “one size does not fit all,” which is why years ago, multivitamins branched out from just being formulated for “adults” and for “children.”

Formulating for generation and gender makes simple sense. But there are differences for both considerations than there were at the turn of this century. “Consumers who purchase nutraceuticals are becoming increasingly conscientious and when it comes to supplements, they are not only interested in its safety, but also whether it has proven efficacy on gender-specific needs,” observed Gioia Zambon, marketing assistant, Sibelius Natural Products, Oxford (U.K.).


Euromonitor International’s newest version of its Health and Nutrition Survey reveals a landscape of unique differences between the generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z or Zoomers). This information was cultivated from 21,000 respondents in January and February 2020.

Across all four generations, consumers tend to be positive about their current health, as the majority identified their health as being “good,” “very good” or “excellent.” That stated, according to Amrutha Shridhar, research consultant, consumer insights for Euromonitor International, and author of the report, older generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers) are less satisfied with their current health status as age-related issues and illnesses begin to arise.

“Regardless of age, all consumers are heavily invested in mental well-being, as this is cited as the top meaning of health across all generations,” Shridhar pointed out.

But there are differences in the generations when it comes to sleep and relaxation, Euromonitor’s survey found out. Both Gen Z and Millennials experience delayed sleep onset, typically born from high stress. They don’t wake up as frequently during the night, but they often feel groggy when they awake. Further, these younger adults are also most likely to be concerned how their sleep habits affect their overall health. “Brands and companies that can provide sleep aids, products to help calm consumers or facilitate lifestyle changes that promote sleep, such as exercise and meditation, are likely to resonate with younger consumers who may have difficulty switching off,” Shridhar wrote.

Conversely, older generations—Generation X and Boomers—have different issues with sleep. They will awaken frequently during the night and sleep more lightly than they did when they were younger, but they also tend to wake up feeling refreshed. Unlike their younger counterparts, Gen Xers and Boomers do feel confident in their sleeping habits and don’t feel it has a negative impact on their health and wellness. “Therefore,” wrote Shridhar, “though brands and companies that provide products and services that facilitate a more restful sleep could be of interest to these consumers, Baby Boomers and Generation X are not necessarily actively seeking them and therefore these products are most likely going to be considered ‘nice-to-have’ rather than essential.”

Zev Ziegler of New Jersey-based Lycored Corp. agreed, asserting, “Demographic differences matter.” The research undertaken by Lycored in the beauty-from-within space (“Beyond Skin Deep, 2017), he said, shows how much consumers’ needs, attitudes and purchasing habits can vary based on their age as well as gender. While ingestible skin care is increasingly mainstream across all age groups, it’s particularly so for younger consumers. “Our survey of consumers found that four in 10 (43 percent) Millennials had used an ingestible skin care product, compared with 39 percent of 36-49-year-olds, 23 percent of those aged between 50 and 69, and 14 percent of those aged 70 or over.”


Here, the differences are obvious between men and women, but how they are supplementing and viewing their wellness has changed significantly. “When it comes to sexual health, the generational shift we’ve seen is due in large part to the women’s movement,” opined Tieraona Low Dog, MD, chief medical advisor at New Hampshire-based MegaFood. “Birth control, greater independence and working outside the home, has shifted the traditional gender roles of both men and women. Today’s media, heavily consumed by Millennials and Gen-X men, challenges the traditional norms of masculinity, allowing younger generations to have more freedom for finding their own expression of ‘maleness.’”

“More women realize that they not only have testosterone but that they also lose it as they get older, and that having healthy testosterone levels (meaning normal for younger women) will enhance their energy, stamina and mood,” said Annie Eng, CEO, HP Ingredients, Florida. “Our research shows the benefits of LJ100 Tongkat ali in women as well as in men. Therefore, LJ100 is suitable for formulas marketed to active women for fitness and vitality, as well as peri-menopause and post-menopause formulas.”

Interestingly, when it comes to choline, “Studies suggest that postmenopausal women may require approximately the same amount of dietary choline as men because changes in estrogen levels result in diminished endogenous choline production,” asserted Tom Druke, marketing director, human nutrition & health, New York-based Balchem.

Conversely, said Ziegler, in Lycored’s consumer research, men were more interested in beauty-from-within than ever before. “we also found that men were significantly more open to the concept of ingestible skin care than women. Three quarters (74 percent) of the men we surveyed said the idea of taking a supplement for skin health or beauty was normal, compared to 58 percent of women,” he cited.

An example is the newly launched line by The Nature’s Bounty Co. dubbed “Advanced Men’s Series.” The line of supplements include Hair Care, Clear Skin, Hair Care + and Virility Support. For women, a brand new line called Pink, by Nature’s Truth LLC, includes Simply Collagen Beauty To GO powder, and Hair, Skin, Nails gummies, Biotin Beautiful gummies and Beauty Rest Melatonin gummies, as well as Multi for Her + Collagen gummies. The line is marketed as “A vitamin and supplement line designed to empower the wellness goals of today’s woman to be her best self.”

Generationally, for men, Low Dog explained that Millennial and Generation X men tend to be more health conscious than their Boomer counterparts. The key difference, she emphasized, is mindset: Millennials perceive that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is healthy, while Boomer men consider themselves healthy if they are simply not sick. More than Boomers and Gen X, she added, “Millennials are heavy consumers of the Internet and apps that promote better health habits (e.g., sleep, fitness, meditation).”

Men’s health today is still somewhat underserved, Zambon said. “According to a recent survey, 71 percent of men agreed that they are more likely than women to ignore health problems. Some of the top concerns among males include cardiovascular health—with CVD (cardiovascular disease) being the No. 1 cause of death globally, prostate health—50 percent of men aged 50+ suffer with BPH4, and male fertility.”

She added that current estimates suggest that infertility affects up to 16.7 percent of heterosexual couples in developed countries, and it is generally recognized that male sub-fertility plays a contributing role in up to 50 percent of cases.

Meanwhile, for women, some nutrient needs remain the same, especially when the woman is considering starting or expanding a family.

Druke asserted that it is indeed well established that women of childbearing age require sound nutrition to support fertility, gestation and lactation post-delivery, and that every now and then the medical community will introduce changes to the optimal nutritional profile for women. For example, at the 2017 American Medical Association Annual Meeting, delegates called for evidence-based amounts of choline in all prenatal vitamins to make sure pregnant women maintain adequate choline levels.

“Only eight of the top 25 prenatal vitamins contain choline and none provide more than 55 mg per daily dose, just 12 percent of the DRI (daily reference intake) for pregnant women,” he commented. “A growing body of research suggests that a choline intake higher than the DRI during certain life stages, especially in the first 1,000 days of life, has pronounced benefits. A clinical study at Cornell University published just last year discovered a correlation between increased choline intake during pregnancy and improved information processing speed in infants. Emerging research among the same children, now 8 years old, suggests a positive correlation between maternal choline intake and longer-term cognitive performance of the child.”

Similarly, explained Lori Lathrop Stern, PhD, RD, LDN, science liaison at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, probiotics are necessary for women as the human immune system during her child’s first years of life is focused on learning how to distinguish pathogens from substances to tolerate (e.g., foods). “Another example is meeting the needs of women during pre- and postnatal care to help ensure the health of not only their infants but also of themselves during this time of great hormonal and metabolic change,” she explained. “There are probiotics that can support health during these specific times of change.”


When designing supplements for gender or generation, Lathrop Stern said that several things should be considered prominently, such as “whether safety has been established for that specific group (e.g., infancy, pregnancy/lactation), the most suitable or desirable format to support safe consumption and compliance, and whether there’s efficacy data in the target population.”

The main advice Ziegler said he would provide is to question the assumptions your company has been making about particular demographics. For example, contrary to common belief, the desire to appear younger is a motivation for only a minority of users of skin care products. “And our research shows that it decreases after the age of 49. Only 14 percent of consumers aged 50-69, and 3 percent of those aged over 70, say they use skincare products so others think they look younger,” he shared.

In Druke’s viewpoint, a significant challenge is the amounts of ingredients that can fit into generational and gender-specific formulas, notably for multivitamins. This is why modern supplement users will choose to take additional single ingredient products to their gender- and age-specific multi as well. “For example,” he noted, “research indicates that a woman needs from 425 to 550 mg per day during pregnancy and lactation, yet most prenatal multivitamins contain around 55 mg, if any, which is a fraction of what they need.”

However, Zambon warned, formulating for a smaller specific market may not be financially feasible. She explained, “An important challenge is related to the niche markets. For example, if a supplement is targeted only to males aged 18-30 years old, then a big portion of the market is automatically excluded. In this regard, companies with a strong reputation and brand awareness are more likely to have the resources and capabilities to address and support the needs of a niche in the vast dietary supplement market, than smaller companies or start-up.”

Formulating products specifically targeted at generational and gender needs—and desires—is a way to provide an instant bond and connection with that targeted consumer base. And by doing so—you know who they are, which makes marketing and sales more fun and less a shot in the dark. NIE

For More Information:

Balchem, www.vitacholine.com
DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, www.dupontnutritionandbiosciences.com
HP Ingredients, www.hpingredients.com
Lycored, www.lycored.com
MegaFood, www.megafood.com
Sibelius Natural Products, www.sibeliuslimited.com