Mental health: a global supplement trend

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Global new products New products database Psychology

Supplement-makers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in other parts
of the world, too, are tapping into consumer anxiety to become, or
remain the brightest button in the box, with the number of new
products aimed at cognitive function mushrooming in the past five

Data drawn from Mintel's Global New Products Database indicates that the category has caught marketers' attention most markedly from the early 2000s onwards.

Overall, the database shows up more product launches in the category in the US over the past 10 years than in Europe: 255 product lines (product variants not included) to 139.

Although general curve in the US has been upwards, it has not been without its peaks and troughs. In 1996 five product lines were entered, and the most abundant year was 2003 with 48 entries. In 2005 there were 26 new entries logged.

In Europe there was just one new product line in each of 1996 and 1997, but by 2000 the number had risen to 14. The peak year was 2004, with 42. In 2005 there were 27 new entries logged.

The two European countries showing the highest number of launches over the period are the UK and The Netherlands (34 and 35 entries respectively). The latter was particularly bountiful in 2004 - the database shows 13 product lines, skewing the continent's total for that year upwards.

There have also been products launched in the category in South American countries and Greater China, as well as the Antipodes.

Market researchers tend to draw on the ageing population as an explanation for growing demand for all things aimed at preserving people from the ravages of time, be it on the inside or the outside.

The 'baby boom' generation (people born between 1946 and 1964) forms the biggest age-bracket of the population in both the US and Europe. These people are starting to enter old age - by 2010 a third of Americans will be over the age of 50. And with a higher disposable income than their parents, they have the means to keep themselves looking and feeling young for longer.

To some extent, the baby boomers explain the increased interest in supplements for mental health and cognitive function, especially given fears over the rising incidence of Alzheimer's and other age-related diseases.

Cognitive function is not, however, just about mental acrobatics and a sharp memory. There are other issues that may affect other swathes of the population, too. There are supplements featured in Mintel's database that are aimed at pregnant and nursing mothers, children, stressed-out types, vegetarians, the depressed, the tired and physically active, and those who simply want to boost their brain power, whatever the reason.

As one would expect given the amount of science and media attention in the last few years, omega-3 (DHA and EPA, and, to a lesser extent, ALA), figure large in Mintel's results.

But certain other ingredients also crop up time and again. These include gingko biloba and ginseng (linked to improved memory); soy lecithin; CoQ10 (reported to help slow the progression of Parkinson's disease); and St John's wort (recognised as combating depression).

Data source: Mintel's Global New Products Database

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