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Drinks to drive off dementia: Canadean sees promise, but says marketers have a hard sell

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By Ben Bouckley+

Last updated on 04-Jul-2014 at 15:38 GMT

Canadean says cognitive health could be a big beverage opportunity, but marketers must engage unwilling consumers (Digitalbob8/Flickr)
Canadean says cognitive health could be a big beverage opportunity, but marketers must engage unwilling consumers (Digitalbob8/Flickr)

Canadean says there will be increasing demand for drinks that reduce the risk of dementia with the number of people afflicted by dementia predicted to triple within 40 years.

The research company cites rapidly aging populations and an increasing number of consumers suffering from cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Taking the EU in isolation – by 2025 there will be 19m more consumers aged 65+ than there were in 2014.

So the opportunity is there, but the challenge is too, as Ronan Stafford, senior analyst at Canadean, acknowledges, speaking as Canadean releases a new report ‘The Future of Functional Food & Drinks: Successful Product Positioning and Claims’.

Aging populations bring opportunities

“Aging populations mean the market for preventative cognitive health products will grow. However, marketers first need to find a way to target a need most consumers prefer not to talk about,” he said.

With cognitive health products currently dominated by performance boosters – even energy drinks riff on concepts such as ‘focus’ or ‘edge’ – Canadean says no-one really tackles the issue of cognitive decline.

“Making the jump to the prevention of diseases such as dementia is going to be extremely challenging despite the attractiveness of the market,” the company writes.

“The science of dementia is immature – there is no cure, the risk factors are known but poorly understood, and the clinical evidence to support health claims approval is at best limited,” Canadean adds.

Encouraging regular consumption will be tricky – Canadean

On the UK market, ‘Braintenance’ Brainwave – a drink with L-Theanine, green tea extract, jasmine extract – uses ingredients claimed to help keep one’s mind healthy and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia later in life.

“Brainwave is a delicious still soft drink, packed full of good-for-you ingredients to retain, sustain, maintain and entertain your brain.” So runs Brainwave’s online marketing blurb; the drink was developed with the support of Newcastle Science City – a politico-academic venture that aims to commercialize ‘insight led ideas’

“Yet few consumers are currently aware of the possibilities of preventative cognitive health, and even then manufacturers will find it difficult to convince consumers to adopt regular, frequent consumption of preventative cognitive health products,” Canadean said.

Known risk factors – obesity, heart health and cerebro-vascular health (this last is concerned with the state of blood vessels that support the brain) are easier to target, the research firm warned – with functional products aimed at improving the physical and mental well-being of older consumers.

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