The sleep category is growing rapidly.
Sleep, or more pertinently, the lack thereof, is increasingly an issue for more and more people. Levels of anxiety, stress and insomnia are on the rise. Consumers are looking for solutions, and willing to spend money on them. 30% of the UK and US population report symptoms of insomnia (The GoodBody, Aviva). The Global Sleep Aids Market was valued at $49,543 million in 2016 and is estimated to reach $79,851 million by 2022 (Allied Market Research).
Traditionally the market has been dominated by supplements and OTC drugs and there has been little innovation in the category. Sleep products have looked the same, felt the same and promised the same thing for years.
Such a rapidly growing category is ripe for innovation and a huge opportunity for brands.
Now is the perfect time for your brand to get a slice of the sleep category. But how?
It’s time to throw out the old “innovating in sleep” rulebook and start writing the new category playbook…
Product Format / Pack Structure
Up until recently, sleep aids came almost exclusively in the form of supplement tablets in jars or cardboard packs.
Naming / Product Descriptors
The category norm doesn’t employ a huge amount of imagination. Products “do what they say on the tin” for instance, ZzzQuil’s “Pure Zzzs”, or “natural sleep aid”
Foodie & Playful – as the category moves more into edibles and potables, product descriptors are inevitably more foodie. Not so predictable is the playful ToV that’s being used. Moon Juice’s “edible rest” and All Natural’s “Berry Sleepy” are perfect examples.
Functional – other brands are using sciencey sounding language to talk about their products, like “everyday optimal” and “sleep formula”. This approach to efficacy claims may seem like old hat, but in this category, it’s rather new.
There is only one visual positioning for the sleep category. It’s purple and blue, it’s calm, there are moons and stars, maybe a sprig or two of lavender. And the positioning is the same for drug-based and drug-free supplements.
Minimal contemporary – The category was first stirred out of its reverie by This Works’ pillow spray. The boxes were clean, minimal, modern, chic even. Although, still blue. Other brands have since adopted this minimal, urban cool positioning. Som drinks and Organic Olivia’s Sleep Juice are prime examples.
Fun – Nightfood, with their every-colour packs, childlike monster illustrations and fun fonts, are almost unrecognisable as sleep products. Completely changing up the calm, sleepy visual positioning for a fun, cheeky look, the sleep message is conveyed through the naming.
Sciencey – equally as unrecognisable are the brands like Neuro drinks and Dr. Barbara Sturm. Neuro drinks could sit quite easily in the sports nutrition aisle, with its bright colours and bold, block fonts. Dr. Barbara Sturm on the other hand uses futuristic lettering and molecular imagery to convey science and efficacy.
RTBs / Ingredients
We all know lavender and camomile help you sleep, and a quick look at the sleep aid shelf in the chemist will give you a tried and tested recipe for a successful sleep innovation… valerian root, passionflower, hops, lemon balm, etc. Or, for your OTC sleep aid, some melatonin and lavender should do the trick.
CBD – CBD is a hot topic right now and the sleep category could be huge market for CBD products. Everyday Optimal and Hemp Bombs, among others, are capitalising on the ingredient’s well-known relaxing qualities.
Reishi mushrooms – Four Sigmatic, the mushroom-based functional beverage brand, have even created a hot cacao sleep drink with the calming reishi mushroom as the star of the show.
So, how can your brand innovate in the sleep category and win a piece of this growing market?
Harness the power of an innovative new ingredient.
Consumers have heard it all before with lavender blah, blah, blah. So, give them something new! CBD and resihi mushrooms are just the beginning. There is a wealth of food ingredients that promote sleep which could be the star ingredient for your brand’s sleep innovation.
Forget the sleepy category visual positioning.
The vast majority of the category looks the same, so tap into a visual positioning that will give your brand instant stand out.
Don’t bore your potential customer with functional names. Engage them with emotional product descriptors or convince them with sciencey sounding language.
“Sleep” should be a given. Speak to their emotions with words like “relaxing, calming, unwind, chill”. Or, do like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Neuro drinks and go with the science.
Think outside the supplement jar.
If Nightfood can do sleep ice cream and sleep snack bars, then what can’t you do? Blow the category doors off, why don’t you?
Image source: The Strategy Distillery
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Shelly Greenway is a front-end innovation strategist and partner at The Strategy Distillery – a brand innovation consultancy that specialises in opportunity hunting and proposition development. Their success rates are driven by their proprietary consumer co-creation IP. Follow @ChiefDistiller