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Nootropics are a hot topic amongst students and competitive athletes. They’re supposed to help improve many cognitive functions including focus, memory, and alertness.
But are they a smart investment? Should companies expand into this health-related niche? This SWOT analysis about nootropics can point you in the right direction.
Strengths: A Growing Marketplace
Nootropics, also referred to as “smart drugs”, are taken as supplements to increase cognitive responses. It’s marketed as the go-to product for enhanced productivity, mental clarity, and focus. Instead of taking caffeine pills to stay awake, companies offer safe and effective nootropics as an alternative. Nootropics are typically marketed to students and athletes, but it may shift into the health-conscious demographic for supposed anti-aging benefits.
Since the customer base of students and athletes are so large, nootropics definitely have a place on the market. Now, it’s not just physical athletes who may see the appeal, but also e-sport players. E-sport athletes play online competitive games against other teams. It may sound silly, but the stakes are high. Teams for an e-sports game called League of Legends can earn one million dollars (or more) if they become champions each year.
But straining their eyes on the computer for hours isn’t healthy. It’s also common to lose concentration and experience memory issues too. For companies offering nootropics, having this new player base, who can then offer these products in exchange for sponsorship deals, can help them expand to new regions.
Weaknesses: Questionable Scientific Proof
The major problem with smart drugs are the many benefits they tout, but the lack of scientific evidence to back it up.
Nootropics blend natural ingredients that are known for specific health benefits. Instead of having scientific evidence backing up the power of the nootropic itself, they often rely on evidence about these specific ingredients. Just because they include this ingredient, it doesn’t mean the product gives the same results. Such lack of evidence gives leeway to the naysayers who believe these products are a sham or, at the very least, not truthful about their results.
Another weakness is competition. Over 130 smart drugs exist in the marketplace today. They emphasize specific benefits, but it’s likely any given nootropic will have a direct competitor. This is why companies focus on who they market to (students vs. athletes vs. competitive gamers) in an attempt to stand out. But with so many boasting about the same benefits (mental clarity, focus, enhanced memory), the products can start to blend together.
We also can’t forget about proprietary blends. When you look at the back of any consumable product, you want to know exactly how much of each ingredient there is. Or at the very least, you want to be able to find this information online. But many nootropic supplements mix their ingredients into a blend that doesn’t disclose the amount of ingredients.
For example, if the company markets their product with low caffeine, how much is “low”? If it’s even one percent lower than the main ingredient, technically that’s low. It’s impossible to know how much or how low any given ingredient is with proprietary blends. This can make it harder for health-conscious customers to stand behind the product if they don’t really understand what’s in it.
Opportunities: The Future Of Smart Drugs
Smart drugs could be the future for cognitive response.
If these products can heighten memory, increase clarity, and improve focus, it could help with people who are likely to develop cognitive disorders, like dementia or Alzheimer’s. That isn’t to say they’ll be the cure, but they could slow down progression for patients most susceptible.
But that would require plenty of financial backing and an entire shift of customer focus. Instead of college kids, these companies would need to focus on middle age men and women, run endless studies and tests, and then develop a product that works effectively on humans.
This is difficult, but a fantastic opportunity for businesses and the public.
Threats: The Competition Is Fierce
Nootropics face threats because of their lack of scientific evidence. Companies may be unable to answer customer questions about specific benefits without the backing of clinical trials. Additionally, since the market is saturated, it’s difficult for new smart drug supplements to emerge and triumph when so many similar products already exist.
Additionally, the FDA could change their requirements, affecting the ingredients in nootropics. If certain ingredients are banned, it could require a complete overhaul of a product, especially if the company focuses on it in marketing campaigns. At that point, there’s nothing the company can do because they must comply with FDA regulations whenever they shift. It could ruin the company entirely.