Following the surge of the middle class in China, more and more Chinese people are willing to take vitamins or dietary supplements (VDS). The increasing demand for high-quality food and supplements is, therefore, a trend that cannot be ignored! A great opportunity for all those Brands who want to invest in China, to whom we strongly recommend to sell VDS products through E-commerce. Let’s learn how to sell vitamins in China!

Why are the Chinese hungry for vitamins?

The reason behind this new trend is the change in the lifestyle of Chinese consumers. Since the new middle class and young white-collar staff are working in a fast-paced environment, they have no time to cook slow food, so try to stay healthy by taking vitamins and supplements.  As a result, selling vitamins and nutritional supplements has become a leading business in China and, according to official Chinese government documents, the Chinese Vitamins and Dietary Supplements market will reach 1,29 billion dollars in less than five years. 

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Growing vitamins and supplements market in China

According to the drug website Drugdu.com, China has imported vitamin A with a constant volume of over 1200 kg every year since 2013; the same thing to vitamin C, over 215.000 kg each year since 2016.

Chinese consumers look even more interested in vitamin and health supplements this year. In February many brands decreased online prices to have more consumers during the most serious period of COVID-19. Then, the sales revenue of health supplements greatly increased from March.

As of right now, the health industry takes a portion of 2% of the total GDP, it is assumed that huge progress in market growth is undertaking. 

International vitamin brands are still leading the market in China

sell vitamins in china - chinese kols on little red book app
Kols and Shopping Notes of Vitamins & Supplements on Chinese social media app Little Red Book (RED)

Even though Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturer is producing lots of vitamins and health supplements for the domestic market, Chinese people are reluctant to buy Chinese brands health care products due to the uncertainty of quality.

This is because lots of local manufacturers cheated many Chinese consumers in the past, using misleading advertisements and not obeying the regulations of the health care industry.

However, western brands portray a totally different image with their long-term branding. Chinese people consider them more reliable because western companies use high-end technology,  make more effort on R&D, and strictly controlled the production cycle.

Diverse demand of dietary supplement products in China 

Health care consumption is not limited to Vitamin categories but has a wide range of demands. The offer has been greatly expanded and diversified in order to achieve the different but specific needs of certain consumers.

To target the different customers, there are many more functions of VDS (including but not limited to):

  • immune system enhancement
  • weight loss
  • skin whitening and softening
  • pregnancy health

Companies have also adapted their ingredients and foreign branding to meet local’s expectations.

Sell Vitamins in China became easier with eCommerce

To enter the Chinese market by selling in offline stores, companies must:

  • apply for a registration, which is referred to as “Blue Hat”.
  • send the products to the supervising institution, which must make a series of tests and reviews before approving your products.

It can take over 2 years to get permission to sell health care products in China, cross-border e-commerce and Tmall/JD partners are your alternatives in the meantime.

Cross-border E-commerce plays in a completely different scenario. It’s possible to establish a virtual store with few steps and some simple documentation. Also, it must consider that digital purchasing is already very common in the VDS sector and will far exceed offline channels soon.

How fast is cross-border e-commerce growth in China?

According to Statista, the cross-border e-commerce market is expanding rapidly. Chinese cross-border e-commerce players totaled around 10.5 trillion yuan.

Health care products ranked 3rd place in cross-border e-commerce by popularity, followed by the first place cosmetics and skincare products, and the second one, mother care products. Also with the great support from the government, cross-border trading becomes more and more popular with way more people investing in this field.

Why do you need an omnichannel strategy to sell Vitamins in China?

Using an omnichannel marketing strategy is fundamental to play in the VDS market sector since young Chinese became the major consumers of these kinds of products.

This means that if you want to play in China, your brand needs to be present on an increasing number of online platforms. In fact, the new generation of Chinese is more loyal to brands with an omnichannel presence.

To Sell Vitamins in China you need:

So, to survive in this complicated scenario, Vitamins and Dietary Supplements companies must:

  • have its own Chinese website
  • sell through Chinese e-commerce platforms as T-MALL and JD
  • do Baidu SEO
  • be on Q & A platforms as Zhihu, Wenwen, Baidu Zhidao, Baidu Tieba
  • have its own social network accounts
  • work with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers to gain costumers loyalty

How can vitamin brands gain customer loyalty through social media?

The VDS company SWISSE, one of the biggest players in this sector in China, chose to gain awareness with an omnichannel presence, and guess what – it won!

One of its strategies is to attract young Chinese to collaborate with micro-influencers.

Swisse Vitamins Little Red Book Kols China Campaign
Kols Campaign via RED by GMA

To have its own official Chinese accounts is highly recommended as well as working with micro-influencer. Young Chinese, in fact, seem to be more loyal to micro-influencer rather than to Macro ones. This is because they appear more sincere.

Choose the right Chinese eCommerce platform for your vitamins brand

Keep this in mind, China is huge and has many different types of consumers that shop on different platforms. Before you get started, think to yourself: Who’s your target audience, what is my price range, I’m high-end or more casual? What is my budget?

Answering these few questions will help you narrow down the options and make the right choice when choosing an eCommerce platform.

Generally speaking, the vitamin segments are doing very well on Tmall, JD, and Xiaohongshu. Those platforms appeal to a wealthier group.

Blackmore: an Australian vitamin brand that won the Chinese market

Australian brand “Blackmore” has succeeded in China market through E-commerce.

Chinese people don’t know this brand 2 years ago, but by gaining e-reputation and building their E-commerce store on Tmall, China’s biggest e-commerce platform, this brand stretch to every corner of China.

Right now, everyone knows this Australian brand and its online selling keeps impressing numbers.

Selling on Tmall: Earn customers loyalty and reduce acquisition cost

Tmall has a strict policy when picking the brand to open on their platform. This is to ensure the quality of their platform as well as to guarantee the authentic value of brands.

That is why more and more health care international brands would like to establish a store on Tmall since it delivers a trustworthy image of the brand that can attract lots of traffic.

When selling on Tmall (or any eCommerce platform), work on your brand awareness to increase your conversion rate, and retain your existing customer base with not only great products but also innovation and dynamic marketing.

Some useful instructions to open your online store on TMALL

The open e-commerce platform, Tmall provides an infrastructure to decorate your e-shop and resourceful access to hundreds of thousands of shoppers. Managing your Tmall e-shop is much like operating your own B2C website, there is plenty of setup design to operation to fulfill your need and accomplish logistics.

Even with lots of autonomous decoration helps, it is more welcomed to tailor-made your store in the top banner, your products menu, and the product image. A well-designed store and customized advertising/marketing strategy are the keys to attract more traffic.

How vitabiotics reached success on Tmall

Vitabiotics, like Blackmore, has entered China market by an increase in visibility, reputation, and building their e-commerce. Now, it is a popular brand for pregnant Chinese women that purchase on their official Tmall Global.

Let’s take a look at its strategy to success.

  • Maintain a distinctive British Brand

International brands need to keep announcing their western identity to customers. A foreign brand is equal to high quality. Thus, Vitabiotics explains that is a renowned foreign brand on its official TMALL, where all the product images are presented in English to emphasize its British identity.

  • Briefing of Company History

In the company introduced the brand highlights its establishment and development, tells a story of a long-term established enterprise that reaches over 100 countries. This makes customers believe this is a trustable brand since it has been built for so long.

Listing a number of rewards and certificates in health care can win the Chinese’s trust also. It indicates the products passed testing and reviewing and are safe and efficient to be used, unlike those shown in the fake Chinese advertising. 

  • Professional Information

Vitabiotics also provide professional information associated with pregnancy and baby care in order to help first-time parents to take care of their children. With these professional materials, the brand stands for a more authentic role. People take advice and buy their products.

  • Clear Ingredients Information and Procedures

Each product introduction page clearly describes every detail of the products and the volume of each ingredient. It makes customers feel more comfortable when knowing what they are taking in.

  • Targeting Different Audience

Vitabiotics has an extensive and multiple ranges of products for the different customers, divided into baby, mother, adult man, and elderly. You can find different categories on the front page when entering the store. By clicking different topics, it indicates the expecting type of products without wasting too much time on browsing.

  • Adapt to the Chinese language and norms

Product introduction is in the Chinese language and Chinese norms are applied to directly attract Chinese customers. Customers can get a better understanding of the products and feel this is close to their daily life.

  • Track on Logistics

It shows on the ordering page how products are transported from England to China tax-free warehouse and then to your home. The logistics are so well-established that only takes 3-7 days to the destination from overseas. As well, customers can monitor the logistics status after making the purchase.

This is really important to Chinese people because they are reluctant to wait too long for the delivery of the product, otherwise, they will give up purchasing.

Want to introduce your vitamin brand to the Chinese Market?

GMA has worked with more than 800 overs the years. We have the insights that you need to successfully enter the Chinese market for health care products and supplements in China.

Read more about the healthcare sector in China:

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3 Comments

  1. My company is looking to sell health products and services in China. Please advise how you can help.

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