Your next best idea: Mental health solutions and OTC alternatives?

Nutritional Outlook, Nutritional Outlook Vol. 24 No. 4, Volume 24, Issue 4

Why Pharmavite believes mental health and OTC alternatives are two of the biggest opportunities moving forward for health, wellness, and supplements

Searching for clues about where the biggest opportunities in supplements and health/wellness lie? You might want to check out Pharmavite’s upcoming Innovation Day. For the company’s second annual Innovation Day, the vitamin, supplement, and health and wellness giant is calling for entries in two specific areas: 1) mental wellness, and 2) alternatives to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Here’s why Pharmavite believes these are two of the biggest category opportunities for the market going forward.

On mental health, says Andrew Lais, Pharmavite’s divisional vice president of new business ventures, “The last year has really laid bare for consumers how integral mental health is to their overall well-being, and we’re now seeing consumers taking a more holistic view of their health and seeking out solutions that support both their physical and mental well-being.”

Mental health is such a wide-ranging issue that when it comes to product solutions, the possibilities are many. “Mental wellness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so there’s an opportunity to expand offerings to cover all the consumer jobs to be done, including, but not limited to, mood, depression, stress, anxiety, concentration, learning, and alertness,” he says. (Editor’s note: In this vein, don’t miss Nutritional Outlook’s webcast tomorrow, “Stress and the Microbiome: Probiotic and Prebiotic Science Update.”)

Innovation-wise, there’s still a lot of white space. Last winter, Pharmavite announced it had partnered with artificial intelligence firm Brightseed (San Francisco, CA) to discover and identify phytonutrients for human health. Some of those will likely hit on mental health. As Lais says, “99.9% of compounds in nature have yet to be discovered, and we believe many of those will positively impact sleep, stress, and many other areas.” In short, he says, there is still “a great deal of opportunity” to discover ingredients and develop solutions to serve a wide range of mental health concerns.

Another notable development Pharmavite is addressing this Innovation Day is the consumer’s move away from an “overreliance” on OTC drugs and instead toward “more natural, cleaner, ‘better-for-you’ alternatives,” Lais says—music to the ears of the natural product and supplement industry.

The evidence of consumers’ changing preference toward natural products is as plain as day. Says Lais, “We hear this qualitatively from consumers, we see it in-store as traditional retailers are integrating more natural products into the OTC aisle to meet increased demand, and we see it quantitatively in the data. Pre-COVID, total OTC was growing in the low- to mid-single digits, while natural OTC was growing in the teens. Over the course of the pandemic, natural has outpaced the rest of the category. Moving forward, we expect that trend to continue, with natural solutions making up 10% or more of the total OTC category.”

Pharmavite is seeking suggestions of all kinds, including ingredients and delivery forms (pill and non-pill), as well as ideas ranging from technology and services and even to ways of educating consumers or encouraging compliance. Welcoming external ideas “reflect[s] our company’s curious nature and our desire to expand our understanding of human health and our ability to optimize wellness,” Lais explains. Innovation Day allows the company “to see the variety of opportunities out there and to identify new and improved ways to have a positive impact on consumers’ lives,” he adds. For OTC drug alternatives, for instance, “We’d love to understand what the start-up community is thinking in this area and explore where there may be good natural paths to maximizing the body’s ability to defend,” he says.

“If you have a novel idea, we want Pharmavite to be your first stop,” he adds. The deadline to submit ideas for this year’s Innovation Day is May 11. Companies can visit this link.

That’s a glimpse of where one industry leader is heading. What will your next best idea be?