Shopper Insights

Not So Vital Anymore? Vital Proteins' Packaging Pains

Collagen Supplement Sinks Due to Scoop Snafu

Vital Proteins Declining Ratings

The Insight

Vital Proteins pricey collagen supplements have been growing in popularity since the brand landed Jennifer Aniston as its Chief Creative Officer in November 2019. This summer, the brand’s growth hit a road bump when the company had to make a voluntary recall of one of its SKUs in Costco locations in 20 states

Additionally, for the first time since its launch, average organic ratings for its signature Collagen Peptide Advanced supplement have dipped below the 4-star mark

Interestingly, the dip seems to have little to do with the perceived efficacy of the product, but rather is driven by a more mundane factor: from 2020 to 2022, Packaging & Fulfillment made up ~8% of all review sentences, but that spiked in 2023 to 16%, while at the same time average ratings for reviews mentioning the theme dropped to a new low of 3.2 stars

Specifically, consumers are complaining about receiving damaged containers, broken seals, or half-full bottles. Consumers were also stridently critical of the removal of scoops from recent packages, which made the supplement more inconvenient to measure and take.

The Takeaway

The Vital Protein example underscores how important it is to consistently track customer feedback. What worked for your consumers last year may be their biggest gripe today. 

There are times that brand managers can anticipate these shocks in consumer sentiment, for example, when reformulating a product or introducing a new flavor variant. However, there are shocks that can’t be anticipated, such as: 

  1. Subpar service or package delivery by retailers or distributors
  2. Introduction of private label competitors by retailers
  3. New competing formats and innovations introduced by competitors
  4. Viral popularity or infamy of a specific ingredient
  5. Changes in the regulatory environment

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