“The long-term viability of many of these brands is questionable, given the cyclicality of lifestyle branding and the financial issues inherent to their relatively small production scales,” said Chris Schmidt, Euromonitor Consumer Health company analyst.
“Additionally, in developed markets like the United States, these brands are increasingly facing pressure from tonics and bottled nutritive drinks like 5-hour Energy, which has gained an informal status as a hangover fighter, and large energy drink brands, such Rockstar and Monster, which have both launched morning-after formulations (Rockstar Recovery and Monster Rehab) in the last two years.”
Schmidt and Euromonitor noted that global alcohol consumption rates were rising (beer up 6% globally between 2006 and 2011), and that was fueling interest in providing supplemental interventions to ease the after affects such as dehydration, fatigue, liver and other organ damage and impairment of mental capacity.
“…supplement companies are looking to cash in on the occasional over-indulgence,” Schmidt said, observing consumer health solutions were diversifying from traditional “folk” cures.
“While the idea of a hangover cure is nothing new, it is still a relatively novel area of consumer health. While people have been taking analgesics such as aspirin and ibuprofen, antacids, and caffeine supplements to combat the individual side effects, combination products specifically targeted against and marketed for hangovers have remained relatively niche.”
German firm Bayer AG had given up after nearly 10 years with a hangover supplement in the US – pulling it in 2010 – although it had had more success in Latin America.
“Sold as Alka-Seltzer Extreme in Colombia, the product features packaging more reminiscent of an energy drink and strong television and online advertising support. Bayer sells the same product as Alka-Seltzer Boost in Mexico, though with somewhat more subdued packaging and advertising.”
“Bayer's foray into the category notwithstanding, hangover cures have traditionally been the territory of small, specialty dietary supplement producers.”
“Many of these supplements are marketed by fly-by-night supplement companies and generally fail to achieve any significant amount of sales or long-term operating viability. However, several recent launches have attracted significant media attention.”
Formulations included aspirin, caffeine and an antacid in dissolvable pill form; yerba mate and 5HTP; vitamin B complexes and Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines.
Euromonitor said while clinical validation for hangover treatments was scant, researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles had demonstrated that Dihydromyricetin (DHM), "a flavonoid component of the Hovenia tree of Southeast Asia...[could] counteract acute alcohol intoxication and major withdrawal signs in mice."
"As such, the compound represents one of the most promising treatments for alcohol use disorders. However, no human research has been performed and DHM's long-term, potential commercial viability remains uncertain."