The New York Times recently published a story under the headline, “Beverages With Benefits: Do They Really Work?”
The piece addressed what it described as the “flourishing” functional beverage market, made up of everything from prebiotic sodas for gut health to nootropics for brain acuity. The newspaper rightly points out that such products are an extension of the health supplement market that has generated profits for decades.
As this functional beverage market grows, entrepreneurs and large beverage companies
alike have been piling in. The robust energy drink category lighted the way decades ago, proving that consumers will pay premium prices and buy increasing amounts of beverages with functional benefits. Cannabis-infused beverages could offer similar potential.
Still, the Times story interrupts with a caveat related to “beverages with benefits”: “These drinks are not regulated by the F.D.A. and none of the effects have been backed up by regulatory or trade commissions.”
That fact alone is hardly a reason to dismiss the functional market. However, there is a lot at stake for beverage purveyors who intend to capitalize on the long-term promise of science-backed innovation that could improve consumers’ lives -- at a healthy margin.
The risk for the industry is betraying consumer trust. Outlandish claims will erode trust sooner or later. Smart brand owners are wise to avoid unsupportable claims, or to
simply rely on the benefit of the placebo effect when it comes to efficacy. There
is money to be made in that approach.
The trap is that resisting the urge to embellish is hard, especially when a brand must find a way to stand out in a gold rush.
– Duane Stanford, Editor & Publisher
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