A Marketer’s Guide to OTC Consumer Trends: Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements, Cold & Flu, and Gut Health


With our latest survey results, explore the nuances of VMS, cold & flu, and gut health trends to tailor your marketing strategies for the dynamic OTC healthcare landscape.

In the ever-evolving world of over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare, staying ahead of consumer trends is not just beneficial—it's essential.

In part two, we move from macro trends in OTC retail to our deep dive into the latest shifts in vitamins, minerals & supplements (VMS), cold & flu, and gut health categories.

From generational purchasing patterns to emerging wellness interests, we uncover key insights that can guide marketers in crafting campaigns that resonate with today’s consumers, aligning with those who are most likely to buy, at the right time in their journey.

Trends in Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements

Vitamins, minerals, and supplements are the most popular OTC category, presenting both opportunities and competition for marketers seeking to make an impression.


However, younger consumers are the most frequent purchasers of VMS.

Gen Z and Millennial consumers usually buy VMS every 1 or 2 months and lead the way in monthly buying (18%), while Boomers tend to buy quarterly (35%).

Overall, consumers purchase VMS more frequently than any other OTC product, giving marketers many chances to capture buyers.

This frequency allows marketers to pivot to speak to trends and meet seasonal health concerns. To appeal to younger consumers in particular, lean into VMS benefits like stress relief or immunity-boosting, where hashtags and post volume on Instagram and TikTok show the digital and community engagement building on these messages.

For older consumers, lean into the “longevity” boost that VMS can offer, especially around the potential cognitive benefits.

“Gut health” is also emerging as a top trend in supplements. 

“Emerging research supports the connection between brain and gut health. As this research evolves, brands may have the opportunity to support consumers with supplements that target the microbiome.” — Jenny Yu, MD FACS, Chief Health Officer at Healthline Media

With 42% of people interested in VMS as a health topic, we’re taking the opportunity to educate consumers on the science behind various VMS options. As a trusted source of health information, we provide evidence-backed guidance on the latest VMS trends so consumers can separate fact from fiction as they choose products.

Trends in Cold & Flu 

Cold & Flu is largely a seasonal industry, but our survey data uncovered significant year-round buying among certain demographics.

More than any other OTC product, cold & flu products are a “quarterly purchase” for families. 

Those with three or more people in their household, such as parents, buy OTC products more frequently across most categories. But this is particularly true for cold, cough, and sore throat meds, which 28% buy quarterly (compared with 18% for 1-2 person households).

As in other OTC categories, younger consumers are more frequent buyers, presenting opportunities for marketers beyond seasonal trends.


As they are more interested in online OTC buying options, this younger demographic may be more likely to pick the cold & flu products they can get delivered without leaving home while sick.

Interest in flu prevention rises even while flu vaccines decline

Interest in flu prevention is up, even while interest in actual flu shots has declined — suggesting a gap that marketers can address. 2023 saw an 80% growth in “flu prevention tips” as a query, along with a high post and hashtag volume for “immunity boosting.”

But at the same time, there’s room to boost consumer enthusiasm for and education around preventive flu care, as the number of flu vaccines distributed dropped 11% in 2023-2024 compared with 2021-2022. 'Flu shot' had a 46% decline as a query between October 2022-2023. There’s a need to get consumers to physical pharmacies to ensure they can get this care.

Healthline’s Cold & Flu Season Survival Guide is built to educate consumers with these various interests and perspectives as we bring forward flu shot information, preventive care, and immune-boosting resources.

Trends in Gut Health & Nutrition 

Consumers have developed a more holistic understanding of how topics like nutrition, gut biomes, and weight management are interconnected, not just for the digestive system but for overall physical and mental well-being.

Nutrition is a perennially popular topic, with 47% of consumers interested in learning more about food and nutrition.

Visitors to our Nutrition content are often looking for holistic resources and perspectives. 44% of visitors to Healthline.com Nutrition content and 65% of our Nutrition newsletter subscribers say they want to improve their digestive and gut health. This is more than the number of subscribers looking to lose weight (50%), though even those interested in weight loss also want to boost their immune system (71%).

Our audiences reflect broader market trends, with consumers actively looking for probiotics or prebiotics, fiber supplements, superfood powders, and gut-friendly foods that might “balance” their digestion and even boost their immune system rather than just ease their symptoms.

Just a few of the trending product categories include:

  • Probiotics, prebiotics, and even postbiotics: Whether synbiotics or sodas, brands are finding success by promoting gut microbiome diversity. 

  • Superfood powders: Often containing vegetable and fruit, plant proteins, vitamins, and adaptogens, these powders are designed for energy, gut support, and immune boost.

  • Fiber supplements: Fiber promotes a feeling of fullness that can support weight loss and feeds gut bacteria while helping digestion. 

While products like laxatives and gastrointestinal or heartburn medicines remain important, they are typically purchased once a year or less, and many do not purchase them at all.

Bridging Consumer Insights with OTC Marketing Success

As marketers deepen their understanding of consumer behaviors and preferences, the pathway to effectively reaching and educating these consumers becomes clear. This insight-driven approach allows marketers to tailor messaging and resonate with what people are looking for today. 

By offering evidence-based, medically-backed information, Healthline Media demystifies the path to wellbeing, enabling consumers to navigate choices in the over-the-counter space with confidence. We provide facts, tips, and easily shoppable experiences that take the guesswork out of wellness. 

For brands, our platform offers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with an engaged, high-intent audience eager for solutions that align with their wellness goals. 

Reach out now to get more OTC marketing insights and schedule a call about how we can work together. 

most popular, 18%, 35%, quarterly, once a year: Healthline Media Pharmacy Segmentation study. Survey of 3,000 US adults who make decisions about prescription medications for themselves or family members. Dec 2022; 48%, 53%, 39%, 50%, 46%, 58%, 67%, 42%, 62%, 54%, 42%, 28%, 18%, 28%, 20%, 24%, 17%, 21%, 17%, 47%: Health Segmentation study. Survey of 2,985 U.S. adults. Dec 2023; 11%: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). 2021-2024; 46%: Google Trends. Oct 2022-2023; 80%: Google Trends. 2023; 44%: Healthline Healthy Eating & Nutrition research. Survey of 562-739 Healthline site visitors to nutrition-related K1s. September 2022; 65%, 50%, 71%: Healthline Nutrition Newsletter Audience research. Survey of 535-636 Healthline Nutrition Newsletter subscribers. Jun 2023.

About Healthline Media

As the #1 health media property in the US, Healthline Media reaches more than 94MM unique visitors each month (Comscore, August 2021). We provide credible health information with a compassionate approach.