Effervescent expansion: Aussie brand VÖOST targets male consumers with sports nutrition launch
Its latest move has been to sign Australian Football League star Dustin Martin as a spokesman under a three-year partnership, to coincide with its upcoming line of men's sports nutrition tablets.
In addition to its existing effervescent vitamins and mineral tablets, VÖOST carries an isotonic sports 'fast hydration' product in two flavours.
The brand intends to expand its sports nutrition range with effervescent tablets for men. The orange-flavoured product, called VÖOST Performance, comes in packs of either 20 or 40 tablets, and contains vitamins B and C, along with magnesium, zinc and calcium.
According to VÖOST, it is specially formulated for men and supports energy production and muscle performance, and reduces free radicals in the body.
Co-founder Thomas Siebel told NutraIngredients-Asia: "Our products so far have been typically more skewed towards the younger female millennial market, and Dustin Martin will attract a larger share of the male market for us."
He added that there would be a new range of products in April to help increase sales, which have seen 50% annual growth so far.
VÖOST holds about 17% of the market share in Australia's A$65m effervescent vitamin sub-category, which is currently led by Berocca. The brand's products are currently sold in Chemist Warehouse outlets, as well as in major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths.
Siebel said: "Chemist Warehouse is a great partner — it has a huge influence on the Australian market and has done a wonderful job of educating customers about vitamin brands and categories; it controls close to 65% of what is almost a A$2bn category in Australia.
"It also works very well with brands and are not really into private-label products, which is good for us — private labels can stifle innovation, and to its credit, Chemist Warehouse works really hard to offer their customers the widest range of products possible."
According to Siebel, the brand has the widest range of effervescent vitamins domestically, which includes sports hydration products that contain stevia instead of sugar.
These products are similar in purpose to the more common electrolyte-containing products on the market, but with stevia and more specific minerals to help improve athletic performance.
Outside Australia, VÖOST also has a presence in the UK in large chains such as Boots, Tesco and Waitrose, and Hong Kong in Watsons, 7-Eleven and Mannings.
Comparing both markets to Australia, Siebel said private labels tended to dominate the UK, making it difficult for brands to invest more in marketing and innovation in order to "shake up the margins".
Hong Kong, on the other hand, is a steadily growing market, thanks to consumers' general openness to learning about 'Western complementary medicines' as opposed to TCM.
"The response there has been amazing because they want to learn more about what we have to offer. A lot of the Asian region has been dominated by traditional diets and medicines for many years, but the speed and efficiency of Western products has piqued consumer interest.
"Obviously, big brands like Swisse and Blackmores have been able to capitalise on that extremely well. There's also a particular 'clean and green' perception consumers in Asia have of Australia in terms of vitamins and minerals that works to our advantage."
VÖOST's products are in fact made in Germany, which the brand considers a leader in the effervescent tablet category due to its superior technology and output.
The company also has its eye on further expansion in Asia, where its products are currently available online, via a number of key platforms in China.
Siebel revealed that the brand was in discussions with distributors in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
He added: "We've had inquiries from South Korea, but the registration process there is quite strict, so it would take a bit of time to enter that market.
"We'd also like to get into Japan — we haven't seen any effervescent vitamin products in that market at this stage, so maybe there's an opportunity there."
However, he also emphasised that the domestic market remained VÖOST's core focus, and it would "take things one step at a time" as it explored other parts of Asia.
Asked if VÖOST would consider diversifying its delivery formats, Siebel said the brand might develop powders to support its effervescent hydration products, but would not be launching any gels or protein bars.
He explained that the firm preferred to specialise in effervescent tablets due to their 'reasonable footprint' in APAC, and its steady market share of 15% to 20% out of the overall vitamin category.
Furthermore, he believes effervescent tablets have an edge over pills or capsules because of their water-soluble nature, which allows users to ingest the entire active and experience maximum benefits.
"I think our effervescent range tends to play something of a beverage role as well — it's not like your typical vitamins, because people get hydration and flavour from our products, versus typical compressed glucosamine tablets, for instance.
"To our buyers' credit, they recognised these differences long ago. Within Australia and Asia, they tend to have a presence in supermarkets as well. Educated customers often buy our effervescent vitamins as part of their weekly shopping.
"We intend to stick to our quest — which is to have the widest range of effervescent vitamins and minerals in the world."