Life-Space ramps up China activity with NPD, branding boost, and dedicated daigou department

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Life-Space is is looking especially closely at different formulations and delivery formats for the Chinese market.
Life-Space is is looking especially closely at different formulations and delivery formats for the Chinese market.

Related tags: daigou, Probiotics, Australia, China

Australian firm Life-Space Probiotics is ramping up its China activity from multiple angles, with plans in place to grow its presence on the daigou platform, drive NPD, and raise consumer awareness.

The company was acquired by Chinese supplement giant BY-HEALTH​ last year, with the deal designed to support portfolio diversification, sales growth, and cross-selling of both companies' products.

Since then, it has been developing its strategies for NPD, further China expansion, and marketing and branding.

'New and exciting'

The firm has also been handed responsibility for launching some new products under the Penta-vite range, a child nutrition supplement brand that BY-HEALTH bought from Bayer for US$14.8m (A$21m) last year.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia​, Life-Space's chief compliance officer Steve Donegan said: "We've been more or less handed a brief from BY-Health on what to do with Penta-vite, so we've been spending a fair bit of our time, resources and efforts in that space in the last four to five months.

"They've given us the brand to relaunch and to roll out some new products."

When it comes to Life-Space, Donegan said there would be some "exciting"​ NPD coming to market towards the end of the year.

These new additions are expected to augment the firm's core range. At the moment, it is in the final stages of fine-tuning its manufacturing processes and finalising the formulations for the new products.

Tweaking the brand

In addition to NPD, Life-Space recently appointed Australian marketing agency Dig & Fish as its lead creative agency for Australia and China.

Life-Space — which claims to be Australia's number one probiotic brand, as well as Alibaba's number one international probiotic brand — intends to use its new relationship with Dig & Fish to not only improve and drive its marketing and branding, but also to support consumer education.

Donegan said: "We are putting our marketing efforts towards the whole issue of the microbiome, which is broader than just probiotics.

"We'll be directing about 40% to 50% of our marketing resources to education and the understanding of the microbiome and what it means, and how our products can support a healthy microbiome."

Daigou ​and diversification

The firm is looking especially closely at different formulations and delivery formats for the Chinese market, where BY-HEALTH largely controls the offline channel and handles the manufacturing and distribution of Life-Space's products in pharmacies and mother-and-baby stores.

Donegan said: "At this stage, we are formulating our products in sachet format because it's well received by the Chinese market."

However, despite China's growing sports nutrition sector, the company has decided to take a more passive approach to entering market segments it has not yet explored.

"We are looking at different formats, such as liquid probiotics, which may be packaged in a similar way to sports nutrition products. But in terms of entering different market segments, such as sports nutrition, we're not targeting anything specific for now.

"We prefer to focus on diversifying our portfolio first, and properly establishing ourselves in China before we consider setting foot in new market segments."

Donegan added that Life-Space would continue to take advantage of Australia's well-developed daigou​ market, having recently identified a need to increase its resources in the daigou ​space.

"I think it's fair to say that in the last three to four years, that channel has been a very important part of our business. But to date, we haven't had a dedicated team of what I like to call proper 'relationship managers' in this regard.

"Therefore, we will actually be putting together a more developed and sophisticated team of salespeople to manage the company's daigou relationships."

Outside of China, the firm expects to enter Italy and Spain by the end of the year. It is also eyeing Vietnam as a prospective market, and aims to strengthen its presence in Hong Kong within the next year or so.

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