Cognitive Health Ingredient Trends and How Nootropics Are Helping Mental Performance

August 18, 2021
by SPINS Marketing

Consumers Increasingly Look to Boost Mental Health and Focus

The core of the health and wellness market has always been about improvement. Better-for-you foods. Better-for-the-planet packaging. Better-for-your-skin body care. As this mentality gained widespread appeal, natural shoppers began to seek products that addressed specific concerns. That’s never been truer than it is today with the shadow of COVID still looming overhead and shoppers prioritizing their cognitive health. Fortunately, innovative manufacturers and pioneering retailers stepped up with the right answers.

SPINS recently released The State of Natural report, which looks at the trends happening in aisles right now and on the horizon. Nootropics might not be a label many shoppers think about, but they’re definitely gravitating toward them in products and supplements.

What Is Cognitive Health and Why Is It a Top Concern?

Cognitive health encompasses behavior that begins with your brain, often summarized as learning, thinking, and remembering. Within these activities you have everyday activities like speaking, recalling information, or gaining new skills.

The pandemic undoubtedly plays a significant role in the desire to be the healthiest you can be, both to avoid ending up in a crowded doctor’s office today but also to be prepared for any future public health emergencies. But that doesn’t make it a fleeting trend. We’re not out of the pandemic yet and it’s hard to imagine a future where we’re not aware of the importance a good immune system and active mind. Multiple stories have come out pointing to COVID’s adverse effect on cognitive health.

The Role of Nootropics

Nootropics can be ingredients, supplements, or even prescription drugs that improve cognitive health. It’s become a catch-all term for any substance that might give your memory, learning ability, or alertness –among other activities—a boost and it’s not a new topic. Think of how many people you know have been grabbing a caffeinated beverage to feel more alert or popping a ginkoba pill in hopes of boosting memory. Now consider that our attention spans are shrinking, possibly even down to fleeting 8 seconds, and multitasking is our default way of life. (When’s the last time you watched TV without having at least one other screen in front of you?)

The ongoing effects of lockdown exacerbated feelings of being overwhelmed, foggy-brained, and pulled in many directions.

Where to Find Nootropics

Nootropics have been growing for many years as more people look for ways to enhance mental performance and focus. Although they are mostly found as supplements, nootropics are part of the increasingly popular functional food and beverage group. Consider how you can find everything from kombucha to yogurt to chips boasting about additional, natural ingredients that improve your health. Athletes have turned to nootropics as part of their diets as well because concentration is key to their performance. In other words, nootropics are everywhere.

“A lot of companies are turning to a blend of different nootropic ingredients for a synergistic effect on cognitive health.”

Scott Dicker
Marketing Data Analyst, SPINS

Based on data from the SPINS Natural Enhanced Channel, Regional & Independent Grocery and Conventional Multioutlet Channel (powered by IRI) for 24 Weeks Ending June 13, 2021:

  • Bacopa (considered by some people a way to improve attention) grew 147.6%
  • Phosphatidyl serine (often used for nutrition performance as well as for better memory) grew 108.9%
  • DMAE (popular with shoppers who want to enhance their memory or even improve their mood) grew 103.8%

In addition to those top sellers, keep an eye on: L-theanine, acetyl L carnitine, and Huperzine A.

How Retailers Can Bring Cognitive Health to Shoppers

For Retailers, educating your customers is essential. They might not be aware that there is such a wide variety of supplements, foods, and beverages that improve cognitive health. Talk to them about it and ensure your online experience speaks to these benefits.  Merchandising is also key for all shoppers. Someone who walks in looking for a nootropic supplement, for example, understands what cognitive health is, but your in-store experience can help them see just how many options are available to them.

How Brands Can Contribute to Cognitive Health

For Brands, consider how you are messaging your products via promotions and packaging. You might already be incorporating these ingredients into your lineup, but if you’re not helping shoppers make the connection between this better-for-you ingredient and your product, they might not notice. If you’re not incorporating these items already, see if there is an opportunity to do so or to introduce a new item that appeals to the shopper with cognitive health on their mind.

SPINS Mission

Our mission at SPINS is to increase the presence and accessibility of better-for-you products to encourage healthier habits and more vibrant living.