Dietary supplements

Three steps to success:
Create breakthrough nutraceuticals in a rapidly evolving market

Emily Navarro  
Global Marketing Manager

Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients, United States 





Consumer health

Nutraceutical innovation

Dietary supplements


With consumers now being more informed about their wellbeing, plus a growing and competitive global supplements market, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for brands to create breakthrough nutraceutical products. The article looks at what brands need to consider to develop solutions that stand out, while also delivering on consumer expectations. It focuses on three key steps to successfully develop and launch a new product, including the extensive research required to identify market and audience needs as well as product positioning, what steps brands should take to select the right ingredients and dosage form and how to measure market feasibility and commercial viability, plus why brands need to consider expert partnerships to get the right quality and production support.

The nutraceuticals space is changing rapidly. New technologies and innovations have unequivocally altered the market in recent years, and growing consumer interest in health and wellness has spurred further innovation. For example, 1 out of 4 people worldwide take dietary supplements daily or almost every day (1), and an impressive 77% of consumers have taken a supplement in the past 30 days (2), highlighting the clear opportunity for nutraceutical brands in the market.

The industry has taken note of these changing times and the opportunities they present—there is no shortage of new ingredients and nutraceutical products for consumers to choose from. The time for innovation is now. But herein lies the challenge—with competition fierce, how can brands stand out among the competition?

Breakthrough nutraceutical ingredients and dosage forms are key differentiators—and with the right vision and technical expertise, brands can not only gain consumers’ attention but keep them coming back for more.

This article discusses how brands can unlock the power of consumer demand and innovation with three key steps to creating nutraceuticals that truly stand out. Plus, it will examine how collaboration is key to seizing new market opportunities, fast.

The nutraceutical revolution: How health-conscious consumers are driving market growth

Growing consumer interest in nutraceuticals in recent years has been driven, in part, by increased consumer interest in holistic health—the understanding that our physical, mental, and social wellbeing are inextricably linked. The holistic health trend has been spurred by a variety of factors, including a rise in consumers experiencing health issues—for example with their joints, digestive health, and weight—as well as a heightened awareness of the importance of overall health following the pandemic. As such, more consumers are taking proactive measures to regain a sense of empowerment over their wellbeing. For many, this means turning to nutraceuticals to support their health goals—indeed, 79% of consumers say that taking supplements is important to their overall health (3).

An aging global population is also driving demand for nutraceuticals and supplements. With people living for longer — this decade has even been labeled the ‘decade of healthy aging’ by the United Nations (4) — consumers are now looking for ways to stay healthy as they age, such as supporting joint health to maintain their mobility.

All of these evolving consumer trends offer huge opportunities for supplement brands. But at the same time, brands also need to deliver on consumer preferences. For example, the industry is seeing a growing preference among consumers globally for vegan and plant-based products—in fact, vegan attributes are now an important purchase driver in the supplements market (5). Consumers are also more informed than ever before due to the availability of information online, and they want safe, unique, and effective supplements. This challenges nutraceutical brands to create products that deliver on all of the above and that stand out in a crowded marketplace.

From an initial product idea to the point of purchase, there are three key steps brands need to consider when creating their next breakthrough nutraceutical product.

Three key steps to new product development success

1) The right idea

When a spark ignites and the beginnings of an idea come to light, it can be an exciting time for brands looking to expand their portfolio or enter new markets. But the right idea can only go so far when it comes to developing a new nutraceutical product. There are multiple considerations before an idea can become a reality.

Market research is the first step to success. With so many nutraceutical products on the shelves, and even more entering the market every week, brands should first look for gaps in the market when deciding whether to bring forward a new solution. Asking themselves, for example, does the product already exist? A deep understanding of the target audience is also key—who is the product for? What problem will this new solution solve? How should the product be positioned? What consumer preferences need to be considered? Here, concept testing with the target audience demographic can help to further define a new solution, while also providing valuable insight about the market demand for a new product.

Once a brand has identified a need for a new product, the role it is going to fill, and its target positioning, the next step is to choose the right ingredient(s). With 92% of consumers wanting a product that’s scientifically proven to work (6), efficacious ingredients that have robust clinical evidence are essential. It’s also important to ensure that the chosen ingredient(s) meets consumers’ dietary preferences in the target market too, such as Halal, Kosher, and plant-based, or a natural, sustainable source.

The delivery of active ingredients is also key to a product’s overall success and should be considered early on in the development process. The right dosage form is just as important as the ingredient, not only to maximize efficacy and support the product’s positioning—for example, a convenient solution for busy gym-goers—but to also differentiate the new product from the competition. Capsules are a favored option for nutraceutical products and are still preferred by consumers globally (7). The latest capsule technologies and innovations can help brands create unique and efficacious solutions, even for ingredients that have complex dosage form requirements. For example, acid-sensitive ingredients like probiotics need the right protection during delivery so that they can pass through the acidic stomach environment and reach the small intestine, where they are typically most effective.

Brands can elevate their supplement game even further by considering the sensory appeal of their product and the overall consumer experience. For example, aroma coating technologies—such as a lavender-scented capsule to support sleep—can help maximize appeal, while also encouraging repeat use. Vibrantly colored capsules can further differentiate a new solution, providing consumers with that ‘Instagrammable’ moment.

2) Finalizing the formula

Ideation and product design are the first steps to developing a successful nutraceutical product, but the formulation and dosage form must also be feasible to scale up and manufacture commercially.

There are multiple ways brands can assess the feasibility of their new solution. Testing and refining a formula via benchtop formulation is essential to check for optimal functionality and ingredient compatibility. Prototyping can also help refine the look and feel of the new product, while shelf-life stability testing ensures that the product will remain efficacious for a specified amount of time after its journey to the consumer.

Making sure the chosen ingredients and dosage forms can be procured from a reputable supplier, and in the quantities and quality required, is also paramount during the product development stage. Here, it’s important to consider the supplier’s quality standards and testing process, ingredient availability and scalability, and any certifications required to meet the desired product positioning such as organic, non-GMO, Kosher, Halal, allergen-free, or sustainability-related claims.

3) Manufacturing

Once the product has been developed and its feasibility has been vetted, it’s important to ensure that it can be manufactured safely and quickly. Manufacturing a finished product at scale requires a reliable partner with access to a global footprint of state-of-the-art production facilities and on-site experts that are available to support brands every step of the way.

Key considerations when partnering with a manufacturer:

  1. Comprehensive services: look for a partner that provides a full suite of end-to-end services, for guidance from concept through launch.
  2. Technical expertise: seek out a partner that brings technical expertise to the table. Product development often comes with challenges that can cost time and money, so brands should make sure there are experts on-staff and available to help.
  3. Scientific credibility: partner with a manufacturer that offers science-backed technology and ingredients. This information is non-negotiable when it comes to making compelling claims that consumers can trust.
  4. Quality and safety: examine the latest and greatest quality systems for both incoming raw materials and finished products to ensure the best product possible, produced under high safety standards.
  5. Economy of scale: this refers to the cost advantages of working with large-scale manufacturers, who can often offer increased purchasing power and efficient production capabilities.
  6. Production timelines: make sure the manufacturer’s production timelines align with expectations and, if the brand plans to launch internationally.
  7. Ongoing support: partner with a manufacturer that will provide support and guidance at every stage of the NPD journey.

Case study: putting it into practice

Consider a nutraceuticals brand that has identified a growing market opportunity in esports. Seeing the potential for this promising offshoot of the active nutrition market, it finds that the esports market is expected to reach $1.87 billion US dollars by 2025 (6). When looking for avenues to enter this promising market, the brand follows the above three steps to set themselves up for success.

First, the brand reviews the key health concerns of this demographic, identifying not only a market gap but also the need for a multi-benefit joint health nutraceutical product that can support gamers’ fingers, wrists, and back. Partnering with an innovation expert then helps them decide the right ingredients to maximize the product’s health benefits—opting for a combination of hyaluronic acid for joint lubrication, undenatured type II collagen to help build joint cartilage, and Boswellia AKBA for joint comfort.

From here, the brand and their innovation partner considers the dosage form needed to ensure the delivery of the ingredients, making sure to develop a solution that ensures efficacy while meeting the buying preferences of gamers, for example a quick, convenient solution that doesn’t interrupt game play. To bring multiple ingredients together in one visually-appealing dosage form, a unique capsule-in-capsule technology will be used, which combines both liquid and powder ingredients using a smaller, pre-filled capsule inside of the outer, liquid-filled capsule with customizable release profiles.

After design, the brand ensures feasibility via rigorous benchtop formulation testing, prototyping, and shelf-life stability testing. Once the formula is finalized, the brand leverages their innovation partner to support their global manufacturing needs. By following these steps, the brand can successfully launch a new nutraceutical solution for the growing esports market that provides effective joint health support and stands out to gamers seeking supplement support.

The recipe to success—collaborate with the right partner

Creating a breakthrough nutraceutical is no simple feat. Not only do brands need to consider their target audience and buying habits, dietary preferences and health goals, but they also need to ensure the success of a new product throughout all production stages—from ideation to manufacturing.

Using the outlined process, brands can turn the spark of an idea into a fully viable nutraceutical product that stands out in an increasingly competitive market. Brands don’t need to go it alone though—collaborating with the right partner can help maximize the chance of commercial success and get products to market, faster.