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Opinion: Unlocking success in nutraceutical new product development


In an increasingly competitive market, nutraceutical brands must work harder than ever before to carve out a niche. A growing consumer focus on health and wellbeing now means that comprehensive selections of supplements and functional can be found almost everywhere, with new products launching all the time. Nutraceutical brands wishing to innovate in this space must be willing to evolve quickly in order to understand and develop new market opportunities and remain competitive. By gaining a clear picture of consumer needs and preferences, brands can identify the right ingredients, formulations and delivery methods to create experiences that deliver something unique at every stage of life. In such a challenging and ever-evolving ecosystem, success is dependent on how effectively brands can merge science-driven solutions with appealing and creative concepts to differentiate their products from their competitors. In this article, Kinga Wojcicka-Swiderska, head of content of Vitafoods Europe at Informa Markets, examined the key trends shaping nutraceutical innovation in 2023. Leveraging market insight A brand’s ability to effectively interpret and act upon consumer research is essential to its success. Nowhere is this the case more than in the competitive world of nutraceutical products, where accurate, actionable data is the single most effective way to inform both new product development and the delivery of these products to market. Brands that have built consumer trust are better placed than ever before to directly connect with their consumers – often via social media channels – gaining in-depth insight into trends, behaviours and health goals. A new opportunity for this comes in the form of wearable technology. Here, data can be shared by consumers and analysed by brands to help solve future needs and develop new products. This live data is especially helpful for brands looking to enhance their sports and active nutrition product categories, but as this type of technology matures, it also offers opportunities to further explore the needs of consumers across a wider range of demographic categories, giving valuable insight into healthy ageing, as well as metabolic and immune health. By gaining a clear overview of the current market through accurate, real-time data, brands ultimately gain a more precise picture of the current challenges and, therefore, the immediate opportunities that exist within it.

A science-led approach The power of the internet means that today’s consumer is increasingly sophisticated, with access to an unprecedented level of knowledge. This naturally influences purchasing decisions, with products that promise tangible health benefits increasingly commanding significant market share. However, it is no longer sufficient for brands to simply offer health claims on their labelling; to maintain credibility, they must also actively demonstrate the efficacy of their formulations. This drive towards demonstrable health benefits opens new opportunities for brands to incorporate scientifically proven ingredients that target specific customer segments in their formulations. For example, consumer research is increasingly highlighting the differing health needs between women and men. Here, brands can leverage scientifically proven ingredients to align with areas of interest to women or to address health issues they experience disproportionally in comparison to men – including collagen for skin health, cranberry extract for UTIs or probiotics for IBS. Elsewhere, brands might focus on researched natural ingredients such as tart cherry juice or saffron to help promote sleep, relaxation, and overall mental wellbeing to tap into consumer desire for natural but effective non-pharmaceutical sleep solutions. Such ingredients must be carefully selected for their efficacy, consumer appeal and credibility. Close consultation with scientists and other health experts, along with clear on-pack and online communication, offers the reassurance that consumers require when making these purchasing decisions. The importance of experience As important as it is to understand market data and offer science-backed formulations that meet consumer needs, it is arguably just as important to create experiences that are positive and memorable – for all the right reasons. Nutraceutical brands must now take an innovative approach to meeting consumer demand for new products, looking beyond optimised health benefits and towards ground-breaking new formulas, improved textures and appealing flavours to keep ahead of the curve. Convenience is also an increasingly crucial factor in how well a product is received – consumers across all market segments lead busy lives, and ease of use can often be the key factor that differentiates one product from another. Examples of this might be a protein-enhanced meal replacement shake in a grab-and-go format at the chiller counter; a complete multivitamin delivered in an appealingly flavoured gummy, or a sleep supplement that is administered sublingually via a handy spray bottle. By developing new products that not only meet health needs but also offer a point of difference and convenience, brands can create meaningful long-term relationships with an engaged and sophisticated consumer market.

Inspiring sustained innovation Consolidating these NPD principles and working across the entire value chain is key to creating innovative efficacious solutions that will meet consumer needs, both now and in the future. The upcoming Vitafoods Europe Conference offers many more ideas around new product development for the nutraceuticals market. This two-day conference will focus on current challenges and opportunities in sports and active nutrition, cognitive and emotional health, metabolic and immune health, life stages and healthy ageing, offering valuable insights into the cutting-edge trends, innovations and research that is informing new nutraceutical solution development. In addition, Vitafoods Europe 2023 offers a valuable space for learning and collaboration, setting the pace for the future of nutraceutical innovation and product development. By truly understanding the demands of the modern consumer, brands can move quickly to both meet and exceed them.

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