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What Women Want (from Sports Nutrition)
Until they do, sports nutrition marketers don’t have much concrete information to go on when formulating for women’s sports nutrition needs. In the absence of targeted nutritional strategies, they may find themselves leaning more toward targeted concepts. And that requires asking active women not what they need, but what they want.
“Many women are looking for products that enhance their workouts holistically by reducing stress, increasing restful sleep, or providing lean muscle building rather than bulk,” says Brown. “Furthermore, natural and non-GMO ingredients continue to gain momentum.”
Ordonez points to a rough consensus among experts that as go Millennial women, so goes the gender in general. “After discussing this topic with sports nutrition players,” she says, “we all agree that Millennial moms are becoming a very important target in sports nutrition.” Female Millennials spend two times more on self-care than Boomers, she notes, adding, “This female consumer is very educated and looks for sports nutrition products that represent her values: transparency, organic, non-GMO, plant based, few natural ingredients, local sources, vegan or vegetarian, and so on.” Credibility matters, too, and brands that have it include Truvani and Clean Machine, Ordonez says.
But a product needs more than progressive bona fides to succeed with active women. It also needs to produce a palpable effect. “Females love products that make them feel good—they love to ‘feel’ something,” Lovett says. “While improving their outer image is important, their inner ‘feeling’ is just as important. So, I think products that can enhance their active nutrition performance while making them feel great will be key drivers for the category.”
And do us a favor: make women’s sports nutrition products easy to use, and to behold. As Chien says, “Women prefer delivery systems with easy use, such as sachets and drinks instead of powders. They also prefer vibrant, bright colors with simple, clean packaging and messaging compared to the color black marketed to men.”
Not quite a vitamin and not quite an amino acid, L-carnitine is perennially popular with the gym crowd who prize it for its purported fat-burning and performance-boosting properties. But because Lonza’s Carnipure brand of the ingredient “is flexible and adaptable for the sports nutrition market,” Bellamine says, “it lends itself to the growing requirements of active and athletic women. Studies show it provides significant recovery benefits by reducing tissue damage, muscle soreness, and injury after exercise. It’s also been proven to help improve cardiovascular health by enhancing endothelial function through increase blood flow.”
Also a boon to fitness recovery is curcumin (Curcuma longa), “which has a myriad of health benefits including anti-inflammation and delayed-onset muscle soreness prevention,” says Mariko Hill, product developer at Gencor Nutrients Inc. (Anaheim, CA). Gencor and its partner Pharmako Biotechnologies (New South Wales, Australia) offer formulators Hydrocurc, a cold-water-dispersible curcumin ingredient with 90% loading that functions in effervescent, capsule, and powder formats. “Its application in effervescent tablets with its natural orange color and flavor is perfect for the category, as its ability to form stable dispersions in water reflects the ease of use in a sports or on-the-go setting,” Hill says.
The more that formulators turn to ingredients like this and others, the better able they’ll be to create sports nutrition products that “serve female consumers more effectively than they have in the past,” Hill says. “The focus on women’s sports and active nutrition will have a significant impact on the sports nutrition space. As consumer awareness of health and wellness increases, female consumers will soon gravitate toward this trend to incorporate a healthier lifestyle.”
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