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Good mood food: Identifying strategies to create ‘emotionally uplifting’ products [Interview]

Kaavya Raveendran
Around the world, people are looking for food and drink products to lift their mood. Kaavya Raveendran, analyst at Innova Market Insights, examines how brands can meet this demand with ingredients such as adaptogens and nootropics to improve emotional wellness, validated health claims, and product messaging.
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Raveendran will be speaking at the Vitafoods Insights Webinar Series on brain health and mental wellness on 31 January, organised and hosted by the Vitafoods editorial team with Innova Market Insights as official content partner.

Raveendran’s presentation, entitled Healthier living: meeting consumers' desire to live well and feel well, will identify the business opportunities arising from shifting consumer priorities and examine how food and drink brands can leverage new mood and emotional health associations in their products. We caught up with her to find out more.

Much of the interest in emotional well-being was sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has now passed in most countries. Even in China, restrictions are easing. What makes Innova believe that this trend has long-term potential?

“Indeed, mood health came to the fore during the pandemic, as reflected in Innova’s number seven trend, ‘Mood: The next occasion’, back in 2021. This trend continues to be relevant as consumers continue to spend more on food and beverages post-lockdown for the reason ‘to uplift their mood’. [This was] the fourth top response in our Innova survey conducted across 11 countries globally.”

What are some of the strategies that brands can implement to create a product that benefits mental health and emotional wellbeing?

“The trend is becoming granular [with a] focus on ingredients [such as] botanicals, adaptogens and nootropics. Importance is now on how they are claimed and how their benefits are communicated on the pack.

“Talking about claims, we at Innova see these seven platforms that are covered under “food for mood”: happiness, energy, replenish and recharge, mind function and concentration, calm and relax, beauty, and sleep.

“Claims pertaining to these platforms are some identified strategies that have gained ground in the market in the past years.”

How can manufacturers ensure that their product claims really resonate with consumers?

“Familiarity dictates consumer interest in functional ingredients, so communication around the inherent health benefits of functional ingredients needs to be prioritised and emphasised. Some brands also work to bridge this knowledge gap by engaging consumers with brand [or] product messaging and digital campaigns.

“Certification and recognition of ingredients are important considerations as they add credibility to the claims. This helps overcome the distrust crisis that exists among consumers.”

Do any particular ingredients stand out for you as being most ‘on trend’?

“L-theanine has recorded a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 66% in food and beverage launches tracked globally between 2017/2018 to 2021/22 [and] choline has recorded a CAGR of 19% between the same period. These are some identified mood health ingredients with a promising trend in food and beverages.”

Do such trends differ depending on the region?

“We can always anticipate regional differences in this trend due to two main reasons. One [is] consumer awareness. For example, there are greater levels of familiarity with probiotics in emerging markets such as Mexico, China, India, and Brazil and greater levels of doubt in major Western economies.

“The second [reason] is due to different standardised regulations around health claims. Both these factors greatly influence how well a product resonates with the consumer and need to be taken into account when selecting the perfect brand strategy.”

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