The foundation of innovation is functional ingredients. "When it shows up in ingredients, it'll show up eventually in finished products," said Tom Aarts, co-chair of the NBJ Summit and founder of Nutrition Capital Network.
This remains true whether your finished product is a food, beverage, supplement or cosmetic. But within this bit of conventional wisdom, there are trends, counter-trends and shifting sands which savvy companies can capitalize on to improve their next product launch—or the direction of the business.
Example: "Experiential" supplements, wherein consumers want to feel the effects. And it's not just a caffeinated buzz but any nutrient whose effect can be measured and ascribed a number, whether it's vitamin D levels or triglyceride levels changed with high-concentrate fish oil.
Counter-example: All-natural, nutrient-dense whole foods that provide a better-than-solid foundation for health. These are ingredients such as kale, blueberries, nuts, chia and pomegranate. Procter & Gamble legitimized this conceit in one fell swoop earlier this year.
Foundational truth: Science sells. Just ask the aforementioned vitamin D or omega-3s.
Counter-truth: Marketing works. Just ask acai or the singular packaging of 8.3-ounce energy drink cans.
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