What’s in a name? For branded immune-support ingredients, the answer may be: quite a lot. After all, you can’t fault foggy-headed consumers for letting their eyes glaze over at the indistinguishable bottles of C, zinc, and Echinacea crowding immune-supplement shelves. In such an environment, any ingredient that can shout above the din is bound to gain an advantage.
But brand backing brings more than just name recognition; it can also mean having the full support of a marketing and research team to help your product—and the branded immune-health ingredient it contains—stand out even brighter.
As Mike Bush, CEO, Ganeden (Cleveland), puts it, “Consumers are taking a more proactive approach to their health, reading labels more closely and doing research on specific ingredients fortified into products.” They take these measures because they’re looking for quality, particularly when addressing their and their family’s immune health. “Functional immune ingredients that are recognizable and have research showing health benefits reassure these consumers.” And more often than not, it’s a brand name that sparks that recognition.
Branded health ingredients are nothing new to dietary supplements, and that’s as true of immune-support formulations as it is of any other wellness category. But, says Elyse N. Lovett, MBA, MS, marketing manager, Kyowa Hakko USA, Inc. (New York City), “There’s definitely more recognition among consumers for branded immune support lately.”
Why? “I believe that consumers want to know where their ingredients come from and why they work,” she says. Social media’s sway, as well as what she calls “millennial marketing and ‘influencer’ marketing” offer branded immune-support ingredients the opportunity to make a name for themselves—literally— “and let consumers educate themselves on the ingredients that are out there.”
The availability of these educational resources is a core advantage of brand backing. “Branded ingredients help consumers understand exactly what a product is fortified with,” Bush notes, “and allow manufacturers to show specific research and information on those ingredients, which generic ingredients can’t always provide.”
Lovett agrees. “Most branded ingredients are backed by significant human clinical research,” she says. And clinical research that produces statistically significant results, especially in the immune category, is essential to making efficacy claims, “as well as claims that the consumer understands.”
Such has been the case with probiotics, which have witnessed a burst in popularity not just for the digestive benefits that established their reputation, but also for newly elucidated effects on immunity. Nonetheless, the probiotics category comprises a broad and diverse range of strains, and as Bush says, “all research and health benefits are strain specific.”
For example, his company’s GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) ingredient has research demonstrating its immune-support benefits, Bush says, “while other probiotic strains may not have any effect on the immune system at all. So, we always stress the importance of strain specificity and branded options.”
As Lovett says, “Research is always top of mind with any ingredient. But branded ingredients backed by multiple human clinical research studies that can support efficacy claims will have huge benefits.”
And if the company spearheading that research is also communicating scientific findings effectively, the more data the better. Notes Lovett, “Most companies offer marketing advantages to branded ingredients. Consumer awareness is huge, so getting the brand name out there into the market and into the right places and to the right demographics is key.”
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