How to market cognition supplements to today's new demographics

Marketing supplements for cognitive health has changed dramatically over the last decade—affecting marketing copy and even clinical study design.

Todd Runestad, Content Director,

May 1, 2023

Show me the science! A sea change in health targets, coupled with a slew of new ingredients that hit those targets, has greatly expanded the cognitive health category over the last decade.

Once it was all and exclusively about a small category tailored to an aging demographic to address age-related cognitive decline. But what is seen as cognition today in the brain space has shifted to various aspects of memory for middle agers looking for their car keys, and then to knowledge workers looking for a performance edge in the office, and today to young e-sports enthusiasts looking for concentration and focus. Who would have thought so very recently that supplements for cognitive health would start to target a younger demographics—Gen Z, even—about performance, optimization, stress and efficient memory?

The chief reason for such a change starts with clinical research and has greatly influenced how marketing communicates messages from the lab to ingredient suppliers and then to dietary supplement brands and downstream to concerned consumers who understand the value of maintaining mental sharpness.

Science is driving everything in the category. When designing clinical trials, researchers have gained a sophisticated understanding of clinical end points, subjects and age ranges. This means that studies that historically have been looking in that aging population have now shifted to a younger, broader population. Study design arms are now selected with appropriate subjects.

Related:Healthy aging and geroscience – digital magazine

Some studies, like with PLT Health Solutions’ Zembrin brand of the South African botanical sceletium, have been studied on healthy populations, with the results showing the ingredient—looking at clinical end points around serenity and calm focus—makes happy people … happier.

“Without the science,” said PLT’s marketing director Steve Fink, “there’s no consumer trust.”

That science foundation is what cements brand loyalty—between supplier and manufacturer and between the brand and its expanding consumer base.

Click on the video to hear the full story, recorded at SupplySide East 2023 in Secaucus, NJ.

About the Author(s)

Todd Runestad

Content Director,, Natural Products Insider

Todd Runestad has been writing on nutrition science news since 1997. He is content director for and Natural Products Insider digital magazines. Other incarnations: supplements editor for, Delicious Living!, and Natural Foods Merchandiser. Former editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients magazine and still covers raw material innovations and ingredient science.

Connect with me here on LinkedIn.


Todd writes about nutrition science news such as this story on mitochondrial nutrients, innovative ingredients such as this story about 12 trendy new ingredient launches from SupplySide West 2023, and is a judge for the NEXTY awards honoring innovation, integrity and inspiration in natural products including his specialty — dietary supplements. He extensively covered the rise and rise and rise and fall of cannabis hemp CBD. He helps produce in-person events at SupplySide West and SupplySide East trade shows and conferences, including the wildly popular Ingredient Idol game show, as well as Natural Products Expo West and Natural Products Expo East and the NBJ Summit. He was a board member for the Hemp Industries Association.

Education / Past Lives

In previous lives Todd was on the other side of nature from natural products — natural history — as managing editor at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He's sojourned to Burning Man and Mount Everest. He graduated many moons ago from the State University of New York College at Oneonta.


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