Video: Visit with Nawgan

“Doctor developed” seems to be a statement that is turning up on beverage labels on an ever-increasing basis. Nawgan, a “brain beverage,” was indeed developed by a doctor, but it features an interesting, and important point of difference: in the case of Nawgan, the function of the drink is exactly in line with the doctor’s area of expertise.

In speaking with Nawgan creator Dr. Robert Paul, a clinical neuropsychologist with specialty training in the area of adult brain function, it becomes almost immediately obvious that this isn’t someone trying to capitalize on the growing trend of drinks that are designed to help your mind. Instead, he’s someone that’s passionate about the science of how the brain works.

Teaming with James von der Heydt, who is the president and CEO of the company and a veteran of Ralston Purina, Paul believes he has created a company and product that he believes is strongly based in science but has the marketing savvy to capitalize on a function that is growing in demand. Supply company Kyowa Hakko, thinks so, too: it makes one of Nawgan’s functional ingredients, Cognizin, and is using Nawgan as one of the company’s showcase examples.

Ultimately, the success of this brand seems predicated on a couple of factors. The biggest one is fairly typical of a new beverage company – the need to get consumers to try it over other functional products that might take effect immediately or are more familiar.

“This isn’t a product that you are going to spontaneously buy,” says von der Heydt.

To figure out how to overcome that hurdle, the company is focusing on its home market of St. Louis, where they plan to employ massive sampling efforts and advertising to support the effort.

The second factor is the efficacy issue: getting consumers to say the product works after they’ve tried it. Keeping Paul on the company front line is a part of its effort to make it seem credible and authentic — something that sets Nawgan apart from much of the functional beverage world, where marketing, not scienticif credibility, is what is ultimately used to sell the beverage.

In the video, you’ll meet Paul and von der Heydt, who will speak about the state of the brand, what it’s like to sell a functional product that you can’t feel right away, and how they intend to operate a company that’s devoted to integrity and transparency.