Wake up to the opportunity: Sleep and stress in the spotlight

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

getty | damaerre
getty | damaerre

Related tags Trends sleep supplements

Functional food and supplements targeting sleep support and stress relief is a largely untapped opportunity, according to Mintel, but one nootropics startup has proven it has its finger firmly on the pulse.

Food and drink brands have an opportunity to challenge hot tea’s lead in the ‘calm’ space as anxiety levels remain high for many Europeans stuck in lockdown and struggling to switch off while working from home, according to Mintel’s ‘The Night Shift’​ report.

The report says only a handful of brands around the globe have tapped into this idea, weather it be with functional Chocolate​ bars, hot chocolate with nootropic mushrooms​, milk drinks​ infused with Valerian root, or ‘sleep aid’ soft drinks​.

Customer demands put in motion

Demonstrating a keen eye for consumer need, five-year-young Motion Nutrition​ has just launched a new 'Hormone Balance' supplement (pre-launch orders delivered yesterday) as a solution for customers who need a natural way to 'feel OK' during these troubling times.

The company’s founder Joe Welstead told NutraIngredients:"We've committed to three key pillars of health - sleep, stress and energy. Our Unplug and Power Up products cater to

hormone balance

all three demands, but although we created UnPlug as a stress relief and sleep aid product our customers have made it their own, which is great, and the feedback they've provided is that they are using it primarily as a sleep solution. 

"We also got a lot of women contacting us asking if the Unplug product was suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, and there are a couple of ingredients in that product which aren't recommended for these groups. We also found a lot of women were using Unplug in an aim to get menopausal symptoms under control and this really opened our eyes to the fact this is a huge and under-catered for market.

"So we wanted to do more to provide a solution specifically targeting stress relief and hormone balance."

The product offers three sources of magnesium, plus vitamin B6, vitamin C, which have been shown to work in synergy​, as well as Zinc and Copper, to help stabilise mood and reduce anxiety.

But Welstead says, whilst the timing may suggest otherwise, this launch is not a response to a trend created by the pandemic. In fact, this is something he's been brewing since the beginning of 2018.

"If we were simply creating products to tap into trends we would have brought out an immunity product, but we won't because that's not in-keeping with the areas of health that we are committed to.

"What is important is to listen to our own customers' feedback and ensure we are providing products that fit their needs."

Speaking about whether he would like to move into the functional food and drink market, Welstead says he definitely wants to as this will open the doors to the grocery market but he says he will think carefully about what product he brings to the table as he wants customers to genuinely want​ his product. 

"If I'm going to create a functional food or drink product it has to be a product that can be easily integrated into routine but I would be nervous to create a 'replacement' product because that creates a difficult choice between your product and another product that the customer really wants.

"There was a big trend for protein chocolate bars for a while which I think is over already and there's now a trend for healthy ice cream but I think that if people want a treat, they will eventually go back to buying the 'real' treat."

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