White space for mental performance products in China

August 30, 2019
4 min read

In Mintel’s newly released thought piece, ‘Powering the Mind: Innovations for Asia-Pacific’s Cerebral Age’, we are seeing a rising prevalence of mental fatigue among consumers worldwide, including China, due to the many stresses of modern life. Indeed, Mintel research reveals that more than two in five Chinese Mintropolitans (China’s new, sophisticated middle class) claim that they are heavily stressed at work. This is resulting in a lack of focus and attention among consumers; over a fifth of Chinese consumers say they suffer from a weak memory.

In light of this, Mintel predicts that China will be a lucrative market for food and drink products featuring brain health claims that are designed with the aim of helping consumers across demographics to manage their stress and improve mental performance. This is especially so for the younger generation which has adopted a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle where maintaining a balance, both physically and mentally, is paramount. This aligns with Mintel’s 2019 Global Food and Drink Trend ‘Through the Ages’ which highlights how brain health is a lifelong consideration for many consumers.

Earlier this year, China saw the launch of leading snack brand Three Squirrels’ Second Brain milk coffee drink, marking the brand’s first foray into functional beverages. A functional coffee drink that addresses the topic of brain health, it combines medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), protein and dietary fibre.

Three Squirrels’ Second Brain coffee product, which specifically targets the brain function, serves as evidence that local Chinese brands are now moving to address this consumer issue.

Three Squirrels’ Second Brain Milk Coffee Drink, China
This ready-to-drink (RTD) product is described as nutritious and tasty, and also beneficial for gut and brain health.

Benechew Mr.Owl Driving Xylitol Gum, China
This gum product is said to relieve anxiety and sleepiness, and is positioned as something to chew on when driving.

MCTs show promise

As well as carrying general brain function claims, Second Brain’s formulation also incorporates MCTs, along with the benefits associated with its nut- and milk-based ingredients.

MCTs have enjoyed increasing exposure in Western markets as an ingredient suitable for boosting brain function, but they are relatively new to Chinese consumers. Second Brain makes very little mention of MCTs in its on-pack communication, and this is likely due to unfamiliarity. As consumer demand for brain function claims continues to rise, MCTs are likely to be adopted in more product formulations, and this will drive both growth and awareness in the future.

Braincoffee’s Coffee with MCT, Brazil
This product combines soluble powder thermogenic coffee with MCTs and claims to provide energy for the brain.

Blue Dinosaur’s Super Bite Espresso+ Boost Bar, Australia
This product is said to be a 100% natural, paleo and vegan bar with a big hit of real espresso beans creamed together with MCT oils. It claims to provide mental clarity.

What we think

The concept of brain health is still relatively new in China’s food and drink industry, and this is an indication of how companies and manufacturers should explore new opportunities while the space is in a nascent stage. Companies will stand to benefit from effective communication of brain health in terms of ingredients, benefits and usage occasions in order to enhance their relevance and credibility.

For more insights on the mental performance market, Mintel’s ‘Powering the Mind: Innovations for Asia-Pacific’s Cerebral Age’ is available for free download here.

Mintel’s food science and nutrition expert will be taking the stage at Vitafoods Asia 2019 to discuss the opportunities for food and drink companies in the mental well-being space. Click here to find out more.

Daisy Li
Daisy Li

Daisy is an Associate Director with the Mintel Food & Drink team, speciliasing in the China market. She monitors and reports on the latest innovation and trends impacting the Chinese food and drink market.

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