Sophie Stringer writes:
Stepping through Waterloo Station on my way to work the other day a sprightly looking girl in luminous green leggings and a white t-shirt passed me a sample for Bassetts ‘Soft and Chewy’ – as seen in the picture.
These energisers, the packaging tells me, are ‘delicious citrus flavour pastilles with B vitamins and CoQ10’. The packaging looks pretty feminine (and the sample pack – as someone pointed out – bears an unfortunate resemblance to a packet of condoms), and the pastilles themselves are in a blister pack, Strepsils-style. The instructions are to pop one a day, or up to three if you’re in need of an extra boost. There’s theory as well as method: the associated leaflet advises that ‘avoiding the slump’ is ‘not about a quick fix, it’s all about maintenance’.
Bassetts already makes a range of chewy vitamins for different ages, and for ‘all the family’. But this is the first time I’ve seen a specific product for adults, and also the first time I’ve seen fortification for energy promoted with a vitamin product. The inclusion of Coenzyme Q10 is also a novelty.
So why launch this now? The product certainly responds to our burgeoning desire for peak performance, along with concerns about the health effects of pick-me-ups like cola or coffee. It also speaks to the resurgence of time-pressured consumers in the wake of the financial crisis. It’s not enough any longer for supplements just to be good for us; they need to work hard and be focused about the needs they are addressing, it seems. But at the same time, there’s some pleasure to be had in the eating, unlike the yeasty smelling vitamin C tablets of yesteryear.
They are probably better for you than mopping up the spare biscuits as you leave a meeting, but I’m a bit suspicious about the proposition: things which sound quite similar to confectionery promising an energy boost might be treading close to a sugar rush, and Bassetts’ efforts to dissuade us of this – with box and blister pack – make them feel oddly medical. And Bassetts can’t help but evoke Trebor Bassett, and as it happens the Bassetts’ parent company, like Trebor Bassett, is part of the Cadbury group.
Will it take off? The trends are on its side, but it may take time to persuade consumers of the value of this particular solution. The jury’s still out.