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Fuel for Thought: Real-World Effects of Energy Drink Consumption on Cognitive Performance

Backed by science, ThinkAlike Laboratories, recently discovered that a proprietary beverage formula improves consumers’ cognitive performance.

When a business wants to understand the real-world value of its product, it is often impossible to take that task on from within the company alone. Instead, prominent brands often need a third-party team of research and marketing experts who can accurately define the question, design a study, gather data, and interpret the results. By choosing a marketing research firm that can implement the right tools and applications, a business is equipped with the knowledge of its actual impact in the marketplace.

That’s why a popular beverage producer selected our neuroscience marketing group at ThinkAlike Laboratories to study their drink's real-life impact on consumers. Through research, Breinfuel developed and designed a proprietary blend of ingredients that enhance mental and athletic performance. While the individual ingredients in their formula had a history of mixed results in previous laboratory settings (Szot et al., 2022), the company wanted to test their unique formula. Therefore, we asked, “Can consumption of Breinfuel improve cognitive performance in a natural consumer setting, and if so, what areas of cognition does it improve?”

At ThinkAlike Laboratories, LLC, we use scientific approaches, implementing the latest methodologies in cognitive neuroscience and market research to provide research-based evidence that deciphers a product’s impact in the marketplace.

We designed a randomized, placebo-controlled study to answer the question. To ensure we were adhering to the highest ethical standards, we obtained approval from an external Institutional Review Board. Even though the study took place during the early restrictions of COVID-19, we would not let the circumstances stand in our way. Instead, it encouraged even more flexibility and creativity than traditional study designs. Over one hundred participants aged 19-58 were recruited and selected using a phone-based third-party service. The participants were asked to join a two-day study, which they could complete in the comfort and natural setting of their home or a quiet location, allowing for total social distancing.

To make this at-home study possible, each participant received a beverage sent directly to their residence. Half the participants received the original beverage formula, containing the company’s proprietary blend of thirteen vitamins, plant extracts, and supplements. The other half of the participants received a placebo drink containing flavor and sweetener but no additional ingredients. All beverages were produced by Breinfuel, safety sealed, and contained the same flavor and sweetener content.

We administered a previously validated neurocognitive assessment, thoroughly assessing various mental agility and performance domains. The test had to be fully accessible remotely, and this one was. On the first day of the study, participants logged into their personal computers and took the test to assess their baseline cognitive function. They were free to take the test in any setting; most were done at home, while others were done at work. On the second day of the study, participants drank the beverage sent to their home, and an hour after consuming the drink, they took the same cognitive assessment.

The flexibility of at-home testing enabled us to capture true-to-life results. Participants were in settings where their cognitive performance was relevant, not in a research lab. Additionally, rather than instructing participants to consume the entire beverage, we left it open for participants to consume as much of the drink as they wanted. We did this to remove any influence on the way consumers would naturally decide to drink a beverage. The flavor didn’t disappoint because over ninety percent of all participants chose to consume all or most of their beverages before testing on day two.

So, what was the outcome of cognitive performance after consuming the proprietary blend of ingredients? Our study showed that for young adults, consumption of Breinfuelcreated significant improvement in two cognitive domains -- complex attention and cognitive flexibility -- when compared to the placebo group. This means adding supplements increased participants’ ability to shift their attention quickly between tasks. It significantly increased their capacity for selective attention, as well as their capacity to maintain sustained attention on tasks. In other words, consumers benefit from the “energy” of enhanced attention and cognitive flexibility. These claims are attributable to their unique formula alone, backed by science. And that’s something Breinfuelcan firmly stand behind. Equipped with knowledge of their product’s real-world impact on improving consumers' cognition, the beverage brand is now empowered to advertise how it enhances consumer performance. That’s a real win.

What questions do you have regarding your product’s effectiveness? At ThinkAlike Laboratories, our marketing and neuroscience research expertise gives companies access to the real-world data they need backed by the strictest scientific rigor.


Author: Victoria Egedus Hernandez, DO

Szot, M., Karpęcka-Gałka, E., Dróżdż, R., & Frączek, B. (2022). Can Nutrients and Dietary Supplements Potentially Improve Cognitive Performance Also in Esports? In Healthcare (Switzerland) (Vol. 10, Issue 2). MDPI.


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