“There’s a lot of evidence that’s coming out at the moment that shows BCAAs’ benefits in a range of different areas,” Thomas Morgan, market analyst for sports nutrition at Lumina Intelligence, told NutraIngredients-USA. Because of this, brands are churning out BCAA-containing products for multiple occasions, from pre-workout to post-workout.
He presented Lumina’s latest insight on the sports nutrition category at the NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit in San Diego last month.
Morgan’s firm, which is owned by William Reed Business Media, publisher of NutraIngredients-USA, captures the consumer sentiment of categories and brands by analyzing consumer reviews and ratings.
“Online reviews are the new currency that’s used to draw in new consumers and keep the ones you have by getting them engage with your brand,” Morgan said. “So being able to keep track of that is essential for companies.”
In a blog post, Lumina Intelligence characterized the BCAA category as a ‘fast mover’ in sports nutrition, gaining the highest average ratings online and sitting just behind protein powders in terms of volume of reviews. Its database captured more than 300 BCAA products in 200 countries.
As a whole category, BCAA products have garnered more online reviews that other traditional core sports nutrition categories like pre-workouts and nitric oxide boosters, which Morgan said is an indicator that pre-workouts are still relatively niche.
“BCAAs, namely the three essential amino acids of leucine, isoleucine and valine—they’re very well-marketed for one,” Morgan added.
For example, BCAAs are showing up in more ready-to-drink products available at convenience and mass retail grocery stores. Examples include Swedish brand Nocco’s canned BCAA drinks, as well as Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy line. This has helped increase the visibility of BCAAs among more consumers.
Mature markets leave harsher reviews
Lumina’s data noted that countries with more mature sports nutrition markets are more likely to leave harsher reviews on products than countries where the category is still emerging.
Chinese consumers, for example, post the most positive reviews combined, followed by Taiwan and Mexico. China also happens to be the source of most online consumer reviews, attributed mainly to the sheer population size and engrained online review culture.
On the other hand, consumers in Germany lead the pack of countries leaving the harshest reviews, followed by South Africa, Japan, and the US.
“The consumers in countries that leave negative reviews have a higher level of expectation because they know the history, they know the type of products that are out there, they know what they like and don’t like, so they have their expectation built up over time,” Morgan explained.