Eco Lips went all in on personalization in 2013, launching My Eco Lips, the world’s first create-your-own lip balm. Welcome to the new world order. Product development has gotten much closer to the consumer and will get closer still, as consumer demand trumps producer desire with internet empowerment always a click away. Give ‘em what they want has never felt more apt.
The real push in personalization, for now, lies in medicine and the capacity of engineered nutrition—functional food and dietary supplements, specifically—to deliver systems-based paths to health and wellness. A spit kit from 23andMe with gene SNPs is great and often enlightening, but rather impractical without the research and discovery necessary to turn genetic predisposition into diagnosis, treatment, and successful outcomes. Many supplement brands—from Nutrilite and Thorne Research to Barlean’s and Aker BioMarine—are taking early steps along this path toward designing personalized supplement regimens drawn from diagnostics.
The timing couldn’t be better. As the press around dietary supplement efficacy gets downright scary—Will fish oil protect my heart, or promote prostate cancer?—the need for smarter approaches to delivering nutrients in the right individual at the right time is readily apparent. This is the silver lining of personalization for supplements, in particular. If nature can truly become our medicine, perhaps we just need to get smarter and more personalized in understanding exactly how that happens.
Personalization is ultimately a huge win for lifestyle and nutrition products, if, once the paths to prevention are more fully uncovered, they can deliver on the promise. Though it’s pure conjecture at this time, we can easily envision a world of healthcare tied closely to diet and tailored nutrition regimens that seek to light up the right genes and turn off the wrong ones in each individual. This is a world very well suited to the raw materials of dietary supplements—those isolated vitamins, minerals and assorted nutrients that now end up in pills—but perhaps less so to the branded players swimming upstream. If health gets personal and better grounded in diet, perhaps we will all create our own supplements everyday through the very food we buy, cook and eat.
For more on the rapid march toward presonalized medicine, peek inside the 2015 NEXT Forecast, now available.