dietary supplements, women athletes, ergogenic aids, gender equity, active women


While the use of sports supplements is common among athletes and active adults, the marketing strategies used by these sports supplement manufacturers remain unknown—especially relative to active and athletic women. This descriptive study aims to describe marketing strategies used, such as color choices, structure function claims, and picture choice, and analyze if there are gender-specific differences within the strategies. A total of 100 best-selling sports supplements were selected from three separate third-party websites. Food products, accessories, and kitchen appliances were excluded. Supplement main webpages and sports supplement-specific webpages were explored to determine which marketing strategies were used and if there were gender-specific differences. Of 169 sports supplement webpages reviewed, only 23.1% (n=39) included pictures that were only/majority female. Only 7.1% (n=12) of supplement bottles used feminine colors, while for supplement pages, only 8.3% (n=14) utilized feminine colors and 43.2% (n=73) used masculine colors. While the number of women athletes continues to grow, sports supplement manufacturers are not using strategies targeted to women. Future research should examine the reasons for this discrepancy and women’s perceptions of purchasing sports supplements targeted to men.