Collagen Consumers Have Specific Product Format Preferences

Often, when trying to truly understand attitudes toward health ingredients, one has to examine separately those intuitively food-forward and those most associated with supplements as a delivery format. For example, you cannot consider the ingredient Coenzyme Q10 in the same way you would collagen or prebiotics since Coenzyme Q10 is really not available, nor consumer-friendly as a food or beverage (you just don’t see it as an added ingredient), while the latter two are as likely to exist in supplement form as they are in snacks, beverages and smoothies, perhaps even more so in the functional food and beverage marketplace. This concept of ‘intuitive functionality’ has confused and ‘wowed’ product developers for years, dating back to the time when some ingredient suppliers actually thought that there was space for omega-3’s in everything from juice to eggs to bread. Some ingredients work, others just do not. Collagen works.

ITC, under its Ingredient Transparency Center (ITC), annually conducts a survey among supplement users in core ingredient categories. From the 2020 ITC Supplement Consumer Insights survey, it was evident that popularity of the collagen ingredient category was on the rise, that consumers had a decent understanding of the benefits of collagen for nutri-beauty, joint/bone, or protein providing applications, and made their collagen product purchasing decisions based on a variety of reasons including what type of animal source and supply chain information the brand provided.

Collagen Purchasing Decision

Leveraging broad consumer insights into collagen supplement users, ITC, working with the Collagen Stewardship Alliance, recently fielded a survey to better understand more broadly how consumers in the US and UK preferred to consume this ingredient — what formats did they look for in foods, beverages, supplements, and even personal care products.

From a topline perspective, collagen in foods, beverages, and supplements is clearly mostly a US thing. While collagen in personal care ranks in the US, it constituted 43% of UK responses, including 33% of all male responses. In the US, the most frequent usage was in supplements (27%) or as a powder/peptide or in topical applications (each at 24%). The US numbers break down by gender with 50% in skincare, 45% in supplements for females, and for males, bone broth (56%) led the way, closely followed by premixed drinks (53%) supplements and supplements (52%). Incidentally, supplements were the second-highest UK response for males at 25%.

Collagen US Benefits
Benefits of Collagen: Gender (US)

These findings confirm that a targeted approach to market segments is needed across the collagen category (ingredients and brands), and this is made even more apparent when one looks at the breakdown by age.

In the UK, since topical applications rank so high for both genders, we’d expect that to be across all age groups but there is a dip at the range 35-44 (to 30%) while overall, that application skews older (55-56% at age 55 and above. The response ‘supplements’ was highest at ages 25-44 (22%) while premixed drinks were highest (20%) in the age range between 35 and 54. For the US, skincare was high between ages 35 and 44 (27%), while powder/peptides was most prominent between the ages of 18 and 24 (37%) compared to 25 to 34 at 27%. Supplement format transcended all age groups ranking between 25 and 29% of all responses across all age groups.

Meeting consumers where they are is always only part of the battle. Understanding why they’re there and what will appeal to them now and for overall lifetime spend is really the secret sauce and the ITC Insights work indicates that this truly varies, ingredient category by ingredient category.

For these collagen insights and more, go to