Cognitive health is a thriving niche, particularly since it has applications throughout all life stages and areas of the world. INSIDER sat down with Chris Schmidt, senior consumer health analyst at Euromonitor International, to check the pulse of the global brain health market.
INSIDER: What does your latest research on the brain health market indicate?
Schmidt: Within the health & wellness packaged foods and beverages industries, the market size for “Brain Health and Memory"-positioned products is US$478 million in retail sales. Dietary supplements is a substantially larger category. Euromonitor’s latest estimate for the size of dietary supplements positioned around memory or mood/relaxation claims is US$2.7 billion in retail sales.
Dietary supplement sales have grown much faster than foods/beverages lately, as cognitive health claims on foods face a high regulatory barrier, recent unauthorized claims by major companies like Nestlé (Juicy Juice Brain Development mix) and Kellogg’s (Frosted Mini-Wheats attentiveness claims) have eroded consumer trust, and because consumers are generally more apt to choose a supplement product for these kinds of high-value health claims.
INSIDER: Which consumer groups are most interested in cognitive health products?
Schmidt: While we don’t break out sales by consumer group, the greatest interest is likely from Baby Boomers. There has been a big shift in the view of aging from one of immitigable decline toward active approaches to sustaining quality of living for as long as possible. As such, Boomers are increasingly opting for preventive care products positioned around maintaining cognitive ability and mental acuity.
INSIDER: Which cognitive health ingredients are gaining the most traction?
Schmidt: Though they are often positioned more prominently around other health claims (heart and vision), fish oils/omega fatty acids are performing well in the cognitive health area. On the mood/relaxation front, herbal/botanical ingredients like l-theanine, ashwagandha and huperzine are attracting attention because of their efficacy and their “natural" positioning. Lutein is an ingredient that could be big in cognitive health in the future. Though consumers very closely associate it with eye health, there is good evidence that it has beneficial effects on cognition, and may be synergistic when paired with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
INSIDER: Any interesting observations with cognitive health products internationally?
Schmidt: South Korea has very strong brain and health food/beverage sales. Most of the products target healthy brain development in children. Given the huge cultural value placed on academic performance in the country—paired with high incomes and low birth rates that enable lavish spending on children—brands like Einstein and Enfant are able to appeal strongly to concerned parents.
INSIDER: What do you see as the most lucrative areas for product development?
Schmidt: Dietary supplements are expected to outperform foods/beverages in the cognitive health area in the next five years. I think consumers in many markets view dietary supplements as inherently more medicinal than foods/beverages, and because brain health/cognition is such a high-level health concern, dietary supplements fit the bill better. I think we’ll see much more development of combination products (combining proven cognitive health ingredients like DHA and common, trusted vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, zinc and ingredients not necessarily currently associated with brain health, like lutein). On the frontier, cannabidiol (CBD) is an intriguing prospect. Anxiety issues are major drivers of medical marijuana prescriptions, and preliminary studies show CBD may also have neuroprotective benefits.
INSIDER: Any areas of caution for manufacturers?
Schmidt: Given the level of concern over maintaining brain health among the consumers, it’s not surprising that regulators around the world have targeted the area for enforcement. Producers have to walk a fine line between speaking to consumer desires and making unsubstantiated claims. A strong focus on compliance should be the bedrock of any future endeavor into the category.
To view a free Digital Summit on brain health, including a presentation from Schmidt, check out the Cognitive Health Chronicles on demand. And for information on leading suppliers in the cognitive health arena, visit SupplySide Storefronts.