Opportunities for Small and Niche Supplement Brands in China

The new trend in China’s dietary supplement market

China’s millennial generation is looking for new and small brands. As of the development of the Internet and e-commerce in China, it is easier for them to know this kind of brand and product. In the meanwhile, it is also a great opportunity for small brands that provide special and new products to reach their targets.

Reuters released a new survey report on Chinese beauty consumption in 2019, which indicated the new face beauty in China. The report interviewed hundreds of beauty consumers in first-tier cities across the country. The study found that Chinese beauty consumers have preferences evolution from well-known beauty products to new niche brands, and this is similar when it comes to the food supplements industry.

The comprehensive retail experience and the increased buying influence of the “millennial” generation mean that international nutraceutical brands must keep relevant with China’s quickly changing market, the world’s second-largest market, and its consumers’ new tastes and expectations.

China’s giant dietary supplements market

Content about skincare food supplements on Chinese social media

China’s dietary nutrition and health products industry has developed for nearly 40 years since the 1980s. At present, the types of health products in China mainly include:

  • Dietary supplements
  • Sports nutrition
  • Weight management products
  • Traditional nourishing products.
  • The new trendy one: skincare products

In particular, products for special medical purposes, antioxidants, probiotics, sleep aid, and infant nutrition products are the fastest growing categories in the Chinese market.

According to statistics, the market size of China’s health food industry reached 261.33 billion yuan in 2016, and the market size in 2017 was 293.89 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 12.46%. The health care product market in China continues to expand. In 2019, the size of the health care product market in China is about 397 billion yuan. According to the country’s economic development and industry development trends, the market size of the nutraceutical industry in the world’s second-largest country is expected to exceed 450 billion yuan in 2020.

Foreign nutraceutical products are in high demand

Due to the late development of food supplements compared to Western countries, and also because of scandals that happened on the Chinese market, Chinese people have browsing behaviors and are very wary of unknown brands and domestic food supplements. This is mainly why overseas nutraceutical is so popular in China and Chinese people try all their ways to procure them.

Tmall and JD’s top food supplements brands during the Double 11 shopping festival

According to data from Alibaba and JD, during the past Double 11 shopping festival, food supplements are bestsellers among all imported products and six out of ten top nutraceutical brands on Tmall Global are overseas brands and on the JD platform, there are even 9 foreign brands are among the top 10 best-selling nutraceutical brands!

What’s more, overseas nutraceutical products with Omega-3 from seal oil containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were exceptionally well-received products in the Chinese market and this type of food supplements are very popular in China.

Chinese e-commerce giant JD. Com announced that it has launched food supplements from more than 6,000 overseas brands on its platform in the past two years, of which two-thirds are still selling on the platforms. Son competitor Tmall Global planned to invite 1,000 new brands in the next 12 months and principally supplement brands.

E-commerce: very important in food supplements sales

In 2020, China’s cross-border consumer users will exceed 200 million, and online cross-border consumption has gradually become a routine for Chinese people. 35.3% of China’s retail sales occur online and China represents more than half of the world’s e-commerce.

SWISS (The most popular overseas food supplements brand in China)’s flagship store on Tmall

Among all the cross-border e-commerce platforms, Tmall Global has been ranked first for four consecutive years and is the most trusted by consumers. More and more consumers choose Tmall Global to buy health products.

The demand diversification is driven by Generation Z, urban blue-collar workers, and small-town middle-aged and elderly groups in China. The proportion of small and niche brands has increased significantly on these cross-border e-commerce platforms and there are exceptional opportunities for foreign small and niche nutraceutical brands.

Selling through platforms like Tmall Global can not only save brands time and money but also is a way for small companies to test the market before the physical entry if it is in the future plan. Since there are so many users on these platforms, it can help brands to reach more targets as well.

Before selling on cross-border e-commerce, don’t forget the most important thing to do…

As has been explained earlier in this article, Chinese people have browsing behaviors, meaning that if they want to buy food supplements, they will go on the Internet to find as much as information before making the decision.

If they can only find bad reviews or nothing about your brands, then they will abandon your products and look for another one. This is not cool but this is the truth! Yes, branding is everything in the Chinese market. Brands awareness and reputation building can bring in traffic, therefore, an increase in sales.

How to promote your brand awareness and build your brand’s reputation?

The official account of BY-HEALTH (No.1 in food supplements sales) on Weibo – the largest open social media (equivalent to Twitter) in China

Chinese people are highly connected with the social media, and they rely on the former users’ reviews on social media to make their purchasing decisions. With the increasing users and the giant user base of Chinese social media, more and more businesses use it as an important marketing channel and now it has developed into the most essential tool in the Chinese market.

However, for those companies who are familiar with Western social media, marketing via social networks in China may be different and more challenging, since it is completely another social media ecosystem. In China, people use WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu, etc. Moreover, in recent years, Chinese short-video social media like Douyin (TikTok in China) are trendy and are gaining a lot of attention and those social platforms have almost all transformed into social e-commerce.

Through community management and marketing on Chinese social media, brands can promote their awareness and get more exposure cost-efficiently. Businesses who can take this opportunity can get a lead over our competitors.

GMA, an expert in the Chinese market and the digital marketing in China since 2012, is capable to help big or small businesses with suitable strategies.

With a passionate team having a multicultural background, including China and Europe, we are your perfect partner in your step into the Chinese market.

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1 thought on “Opportunities for Small and Niche Supplement Brands in China”

  1. Very interesting article! I used to study niche markets in China and actually heard about dietary supplements, ports nutrition, weight management products, traditional nourishing products, but not really about skincare products. Thank you!

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