“It’s inevitable that everyone will experience some degree of cognitive decline in their lifetime after a certain age,” and for some people that decline will be much more extensive, cautions Erika Lepczyk, who launched Memore earlier this month with her husband Brad Lepczyk.
She explained to FoodNavigator-USA that “an estimated 6.2 million Americans today, at age 65 or older, are living with Alzheimer’s dementia. Seventy-two percent are 75 and older. And as the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of new existing cases of Alzheimer’s so that in 30 years from the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may grow to a projected 12.7 million, which, baring medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure Alzheimer’s, is a statistic that really proves this issue is not going away. If anything it is going to be abundantly escalated.”
But, Lepczyk adds, there are proactive steps people can take to help maintain and even improve their cognitive health, including choosing foods that are high in brain-supporting nutrients, such as Memore, which was developed at the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab and combines 11 whole food and three plant-based protein powders.
Available in three blends – Blueberry Lemon, Blackberry Ginger and a flavorless Base – Memore isn’t positioned as a quick fix or miracle solution. Rather, it is offered as a convenient way to fill dietary gaps with easy-to-absorb nutrition that the brain needs.
“While you’re not going to reap the benefits of a quick-fix where you lose weight in seven days or gain focus and clarity every morning before you hit your desk for work, [Memore] is really marketed as a long-term health solution,” Lepczyk said.
She acknowledged that selling a product that consumers can’t “feel” working will be the startup’s biggest challenge, but she hopes to work with key partners, including health advocacy associations, influencers and others in the cognitive health space to convince consumers that prevention is better than treatment.
Memore's ingredients "are timeless, never trendy"
Memore uses ingredients it says are backed by credible science and, therefore, "never go out of style," including:
Organic agave inulin
A plant-based protein blend of pea and rice fermented with shitake mycelium mushrooms
“As a country, we’re continuing to focus on short term fixes, but to the detriment of our long-term health. And so we need to better balance between preventive health and treatment,” she said. “I think this will be our biggest challenge, but we are going to take that risk and hopefully find a following and community of people who actually trust and admire that we’re not trying to sell something that promises a quick fix or fad solution to what is a serious long-term problem that needs a long-term sustainable health solution.”
Lepczyk explained Memore’s go-to-market strategy will focus on capturing its “home bases,” including communities engaged around the Mediterranean diet’s holistic approach to health and nutritionists and influencers who are trusted in those circles. The brand also will work with and target Alzheimer’s advocates and caretakers, and followers of the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (or MIND) diet, which combines aspects of the Mediterranean and DASH diets to create a dietary pattern focused on brain health.
Memore straddles two fast-growing markets
The trio of product is launching at a time when many people are more focused on their mental health and wellness due to the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic over the past year. As such, Lepczyk says the brand is able to tap into two fast growing markets: functional beverages and cognitive health.
“The cognitive health market is around $7b and growing 8% annually, and the functional beverage market is, I think more vastly known and more of a trend, but worth $100b and is growing 7% annually. So, we kind of straddle the line with Memore of both those high growth markets. So, that is a huge advantage for us to ride,” Lepczyk said.
Even though these markets are growing fast, many mainstream consumers don’t understand that role that nutrition plays in each of these segments, which is why Memore will focus on education through its partnerships and its website, where it currently sells subscriptions.
“Our intention and goal of this product is to create a memorable customer experience and we think that is crucial, which his why we will stay direct-to-consumer online until we’ve built a consistent base of monthly subscribers or customers,” Lepczyk said.
Eventually, though, she said, she wants to expand distribution with the right partners. However, she says, that likely will take investors, which she is not in a rush to find.
“We’re going to be really patient about finding the right investors because we’re going to need investments, but its really important for us to gain traction prior and get that loyalty and customer base first. And once we do, I only want to partner with others who are just as passionate about our mission” and value consumer education, Lepczyk said.
As the business grows, she adds that she also hopes to partner with nonprofits that support the caretakers of people with Alzheimer’s dementia, who often are overlooked but are essential to those who need them.