Careful market research underlies hangover product's launch

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Al-Salem raises money for AIDS research via charity cycling trips.
Al-Salem raises money for AIDS research via charity cycling trips.

Related tags Dietary supplement Antioxidant

The developers of a new hangover supplement believe careful pre launch market analysis will help them succeed where others have failed.

The product, called Bright Day, is the brainchild of David Firth-Eagland and Sharrifah Al-Salem, who were classmates at the business school at the University of California Berkeley. Firth-Eagland, an enthusiastic supplement user, was often concocting his own combinations of supplements to try to deal with the aftereffects of a common student activity, let’s say.  While at first put off, Al-Salem became intrigued, and the two decided to see if meeting that need could be a viable business opportunity. Work done in one of their marketing classes convinced her that there was a real opportunity in the space.

Obscure category with low trust factor

“I thought the idea of hangover prevention at first seemed ridiculous,” ​Al-Salem said. “We used a project in our marketing class to understand the category. We found that about 98% of people have never heard of products in the hangover space.”

Nearly everyone who drinks has at one time or another been impacted by a hangover.  I in particular seem to be particularly impacted,”​ Firth-Eagland said. “We are both fairly health conscious people. I am an average runner and Sharrifah is an avid cyclist. There is always this morning after effect where you are foggy, and now I have two kids and I can’t afford that.”

Like some other products in the space, Bright Day is based on a toxin-flushing message. Firth-Eagland said the initial formulation was guided by his knowledge of the science behind the ingredients and was refined via advice given by advisors.

Sharrifah Al-Salem and David Firth-Eagland.

“The alpha version of this was backed by a lot of scientific studies on the effects of antioxidants and various amino acids. We have some PhDs on our board of advisors who helped us take that alpha version to something that is more commercially viable,” ​he said.

Bright Day features N-Acetyl Cysteine, glutathione, acetyl L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, theanine and mega doses of some B vitamins and of vitamin C. 

Firth-Eagland said that using high quality ingredients backed by credible science will help set the company’s product apart.  He and Al-Salem say they want to market the product via a health positioning, rather than trying to create a party vibe that seems to pervade the marketing of other products in the space.  They say they’re trying to create an aura of responsibility, if you will.

“When we did our competitive analysis, I just couldn’t find products out there that you could trust,”​ Firth-Eagland said. “A lot of them are appealing to a youth demographic, to a party set, with images like bikini models at the beach. People would tell me they’d found a hangover product named something like Snakebite at a gas station in Texas. So there is a low trust factor, which is both a problem and an opportunity.”

Potential big market

Al-Salem said the pair tried to put some real numbers around the potential size of the issue, and what they came away with was encouraging.

“According to a recent article form the Centers for Disease Control  $179 billion is lost annually because of lost workplace productivity due to hangovers. We think the overall there is a potential $6.7 billion market that is increasing 8% annually,” ​she said.

The product is currently for sale online on several high-profile platforms like Amazon.  The company is also considering limited initial brick-and-mortar distribution, starting first in the San Francisco Bay Area where the founders are based.

Healthy drinking?

Al-Salem admitted that connecting something that purports to be healthy with the consumption of alcohol is a potential regulatory minefield, but one that she believes can be traversed successfully. 

“We have been trying to navigate the health issue.  One interesting thing we have seen recently in the dietary supplement industry is this interest in ‘nootropics.’ That is really just another way for supplement industry people to talk about consumers self-identifying health problems they might have and then trying to find a product to remedy that,”​ she said.

“We don’t want to say that this is a silver bullet. You could put yourself in a dangerous territory where people could take this an an excuse for excessive drinking.  We see this more as a product that could be part of a healthier drinking perspective,” ​she said.

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