According to reports by Euromonitor International, Southeast Asian countries have witnessed a significant growth in the vitamins and supplements sector; these include countries like Malaysia and Singapore.

The increase in health-consciousness, along with higher levels of education and awareness due to social media and government efforts are among the major factors that contribute to the high demand for and acceptance of vitamins and dietary supplements in the region. In addition, the ageing population as well as other lifestyle-related factors such as pressure and stress also drive the demand for vitamins and supplements.

What this means for community pharmacies

The growing trend in vitamins and dietary supplement consumption among today’s consumers is something that community pharmacies should definitely pay close attention to. It reflects the current interest of the community with regards to supplements and in order to remain relevant, a community pharmacy has to ensure that it is able to cater to the demand.

To build on this demand, the following are a few matters that a community pharmacy should look into:

1. Knowing the right distribution/assortment of supplements to offer

Rather than aiming to offer as many brands and products as possible and compete with the larger chains and retailers, the main concern for a community pharmacy should be in knowing the appropriate distribution and assortment of vitamins and supplements to offer at the pharmacy.

For instance, one critical question would be “How do consumers respond to products such as minerals, or herbal and natural supplements?” People’s preferences may differ depending on factors such as location and demographics. Knowing their preferences in terms of the form of vitamins and supplements, such as whether they prefer pills or chewables, can also help a community pharmacy to determine the right assortment to offer.

2. The need to understand regulatory matters

In addition to providing a variety of options for health consumers, it is vital for a community pharmacy to be fully aware of current regulatory matters. These include laws and regulations concerning standards, licenses, sales and services and other related areas governing the vitamins and supplements category.

It also entails that the community pharmacy stays up-to-date on the latest trends in the market and is aware of any changes in regulations that may impact the industry. Differences in regulations across countries can also mean differences in terms of distribution and promotional practices.

3. Enhancing consumers’ awareness

Once the right products are in place, the next important step is to reach out to the community and make them aware of what the pharmacy has to offer. What unique options can your community pharmacy present based on their needs?

Outreach programmes as well as dissemination of educational materials can be an effective way to reach community members. It is also useful to offer unique services that can only be provided by the pharmacy which people cannot obtain if they purchase the products from other retailers, such as a consultation session with the pharmacist regarding vitamins and supplements intake. MIMS

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