Kyowa Hakko reveals white space for immune and cognitive health

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Orbon Alija / Getty Images
© Orbon Alija / Getty Images

Related tags Consumer trends white spaces Brain health Immune health functional beverages

Ingredients manufacturer Kyowa Hakko says that immune and cognitive health represent two of the brightest opportunities for product development in the supplement space.

The company backs this up with two new surveys testifying to consumer trends towards daily energy and immune support regimens that optimize long-term health with active ingredients from trusted brands that are safe and effective with science on label.

“Part of being a market leader in our categories means that we must keep our finger on the pulse of what’s motivating consumers to buy,” said Karen Todd, MBA, RD, vice president of global brand marketing at Kyowa Hakko USA.

The company markets its branded Cognizin nootropic for cognition and Immuse postbiotic for immunity.

Attitudes about immunity support

Results from the immune health survey – published in the white paper Exploring the Evolving Consumer Attitudes About Immunity Support​ – reveal that two in five (40%) of the 503 U.S. consumers surveyed report taking supplements to support immunity in the past 12 months. Of those, over three in four do so as part of a long-term immune support regimen. 

“This renewed focus on immune health indicates that consumers are looking for new solutions to ensure they’re feeling and performing their best every day,” Todd said.

The white paper draws attention to the growing awareness that these new solutions may best be found in the gut, sharing that 70% of supplement consumers understand that gut microbiome health is important to their overall health. 

“Brands can cast a wide net by helping consumers make connections between immunity and the microbiome,” the white paper suggested.

Among respondents, 85% were familiar with the term “probiotics”, and 81% viewed probiotics as an effective support for immune health. Meanwhile 62% said they were familiar with the term “prebiotics”, with 65% believing prebiotics offer effective immunity support. A smaller proportion (17%) said they have purchased postbiotics in the past year, and 49% believe postbiotics are effective for supporting immune health. 

“Although the survey shows that public awareness about postbiotics is relatively lower than pro- and prebiotics, the data suggest that with effective messaging, many supplement consumers are likely to make similar general associations between postbiotics and immunity,” according to Kyowa Hakko.

Focus on cognitive performance

Cognitive performance is also increasingly viewed as a component of health and wellness in an emerging brain health category that caters to all ages. Kyowa Hakko data indicates that four-in-five (85%) of the 501 U.S. supplement shoppers surveyed view mental focus, mental energy, and the ability to concentrate as important for their quality of life. Also top of mind: clear memory recall, cognitive health, better productivity and mood.

“So many of us experience a number of different stressors throughout our day that are jeopardizing our ability to focus, think clearly, and keep our mental energy up,” Todd said. “Consumers want more products that include ingredients that are clinically researched to help us overcome those challenges and improve brain health.”

Kyowa Hakko suggests there is room in the market for energy-boosting product innovation given that a large proportion of respondents report buying a product to support focus at work or school (43%) or for physical activity (36%) but only 67% are satisfied with the current energy drinks on the market. 

“And though 69% said they are likely to purchase energy supplements in the next three months, a significant gap remains, representing unrealized market share for manufacturers,” the paper noted.

What’s driving consumers

A breakdown of the demographic data of both surveys showed a relatively balanced distribution between genders and across age groups, with most participants identifying as white and at least 75% reporting at least some level of college or post-graduate education.

According the white paper New Survey Reveals What’s Driving Consumers to Energy Drinks and Supplements​, functional beverages are emerging as major opportunities for brands in both the immune and cognitive health markets. 

“Our surveys are telling us that beverages are a major white space for product development as consumers look for more opportunities to get functional ingredients into their bodies through their diets,” Todd said. 

Although dietary supplements in capsules and gummies remain popular formats in both categories, the survey reports that one third of supplement consumers claim to feel underserved and unsatisfied with current options. 

Kyowa Hakko also conducted a survey of 3,106 consumers with global market research firm Ipsos to determine that supplement users highly value branded or trademarked ingredients (like Cognizin and Immuse) that are supported by clinical studies.

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