Vitamins and health supplements are becoming increasingly popular not just among the elderly but also among the young in China. There has been a rise in demand for products that boost the immune system and aid in muscle recovery because of Covid. Supplements and vitamins with beautifying effects are especially sought-after as well and it is expected for this trend to continue to 2023.
Nevertheless, the fast pace of development also means that companies who want a foothold in the Chinese market need to understand the latest consumer trends to develop an effective marketing strategy.
Here’s what you need to know to win China’s vitamins and healthy supplements market in 2023.
The China Vitamin and Health Supplements Market
Source: CN Food News
The Chinese government established a set of health food regulations in 2021 to facilitate the country’s new two-track system for health food registration and filing.
Chinese healthcare leader BY-HEALTH’s (汤臣倍健) all-network sales hit 700 million yuan during Double 11, a year-on-year increase of over 20%. This is strong evidence to support that in the post-pandemic era, consumers are more concerned about their health and prefer health supplements. In fact, the Chinese health supplements market is ushering in a new golden era of development.
Step 1: Identify and define your market and target audience.
The first step in selling your products in China is to understand the market and target the right audience. By failing to identify your target audience accurately, you risk not connecting with your ideal customers.
You should keep in mind that most of your potential clients are young consumer groups. The consumer groups are expanding from predominantly older people to all age groups. According to CBNData, about 40% of people who buy health supplements on Tmall are post-90s (and growing), while 30% are post-80s-90s.
In the past, most of the consumer groups who patronized health products over drug efficacy were the elderly group. Nowadays, skincare and cycle regulation, prevention of pregnancy diabetes, sleep and anxiety relief, liver protection, immunity enhancement and others all rely on health supplements for preventative purposes. Consumer groups patronizing health supplements are getting younger.
Step 2: Clear your product positioning; focus on scene marketing
Positioning helps you articulate the unique benefits of your product and why your solution is better than what your competitors are offering. One of the latest trends in China’s VMS market is more segmented consumer demand. There is a shift in consumer demand from broad categories of basic functions to more segmented and diversified categories. Chinese consumers are not only satisfied with health product benefits (vitamins, protein powder etc.), but also desire to regulate health problems effectively.
According to CBNData’s big data, products targeting immune regulation, sleep improvement and bone nutrition have the highest growth rate. Products such as gastrointestinal nutrition, oral beauty and sports nutrition are preferred by most young people.
To meet the needs of diverse consumer groups, health supplement products must clearly position themselves and do excellent scene marketing. Brands can visualize different usage scenarios for a product by marketing it in the daily lives of their consumers.
Generally, one healthcare ingredient can often be used to treat a variety of symptoms. Grape seed extract, for example, can whiten, unblock cardiovascular and cerebrovascular pathways, as well as act as an anti-allergy component, but its function is too broad. Therefore, in response to the healthcare needs arising from consumers’ daily lives, healthcare product manufacturers develop products to meet the needs of specific situations (e.g. staying up late, working overtime, exercising). For insomniacs, the market has developed melatonin instant strips that are portable, multi-flavoured (chocolate and min), and non-addictive which caters to the consumer’s needs.
For young consumers, health supplement sales require intense consumer education. Sufficient exposure is critical to product sales. Since this article is a special strategy for 2023, we strongly recommend that companies should follow the trend and choose an e-commerce platform with more younger users. In addition to the layout of traditional platforms such as Taobao and Jingdong, companies should also make efforts in social e-commerce such as RED and live streaming platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou to form an online all-platform coverage.
Because of the rise of social e-commerce (like Red & Douyin acting as a channel shopping guide), product introduction, recommendation, and consumer education functions are needed for e-commerce channels. However, the promotion for new categories is weak and unable to compensate for the shortcomings of e-commerce channels.
Step 4: Leveraging celebrities to increase brand awareness is key
Leveraging celebrities is the quickest way for emerging brands to effectively communicate with the next generation of consumers and quickly increase the brand’s social voice and awareness. According to a DT Finance survey, celebrity endorsement ranks fourth among the factors influencing consumers to buy health products, and the star-studded group’s influence is immeasurable.
Source: Caltrate Official
Caltrate is the first internationally renowned calcium supplement brand to enter China in more than twenty years. The brand collaborated three times with the top stream star Yang Mi to advertise their products. Yang Mi acted as brand spokesperson along with the same ACE products to encourage customers to buy their products.
In the post-pandemic era, the consumption habits of Chinese consumers are gradually taking shape, especially with a maturing economic power and consumer education. People are buying more health supplements with their mindset on a healthier lifestyle. Nevertheless, the still-budding yet fast-growing healthcare market will face a reshuffling of the competitive landscape and accelerated industry consolidation as market regulations tighten.
Overall, both new entrants and traditional players in the health supplements industry should reconsider their traditional strategies to cater to transforming consumer preferences. With the Internet divided, precise targeting and effective advertising and marketing are needed to boost conversion rates and increase revenue.
Having a clear market development strategy is essential if you want to conquer China’s vitamin market. If you want to target your customers more effectively, you can check out our consumer research service to better target your potential customer base. In addition to our consumer research services, we also offer other market research and digital marketing strategies. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.