The painkiller/vitamin analogy, myth or fact?

  • by Amando Abreu
  • on 19 November 2022

Everyone in the product or startup space has heard of the “vitamin VS painkiller” analogy. Many are told to focus on painkillers. But is this wise? Or is it a bad analogy?

First of all, let’s just look at hard numbers. Do painkillers sell more than vitamins?

Statista has the answer:

According to statista, the global painkiller market moved about $30bn in 2022.

The vitamin/mineral market moved $27bn in 2022.

Not a big difference, in the end!

Another thing to note: Painkiller sales come mostly from the US, whereas vitamin/mineral sales are mostly from China.

Things that are probably true:

Painkillers are taken when there’s pain (how often do you take painkillers?)

Vitamins are usually taken daily (how often do you take vitamins?)

(Some) painkillers are heavily regulated (probably doesn’t make sense for the analogy?)

Vitamins are usually not regulated

Things I don’t know for sure:

The sales of each of these can fluctuate differently based on different factors, and there may be good years for vitamins and good years for painkillers.

TL;DR; It’s more mythy than facty. Give your vitamin a shot. Add a mineral and find the right market :)

About the author

Amando Abreu is a serial entrepreneur, Fractional CTO, and engineer who has been involved in several startups and launched dozens of products. He has worked with companies such as trivago, Portugal Telecom, and Vizrt. He has experience in several industries, most notably e-commerce, SaaS, media, travel, insurance, property development, and construction.
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