Vitafoods Asia 2019

BTS power: South Korean supplement firm taps on boyband appeal to gain young consumers

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Nutrione has obtained a one-year exclusive license in using BT21 designs in its product packaging. © Nutrione
Nutrione has obtained a one-year exclusive license in using BT21 designs in its product packaging. © Nutrione

Related tags South korea Probiotics Collagen

South Korean dietary supplement firm Nutrione is leveraging on the popularity of K-pop boyband BTS to attract young consumers.

The firm has recently sealed a one-year exclusive licensing deal of BT21 with Naver Line for use on the packaging of its supplement products in April this year.

BT21​ is a series of cartoon characters co-created by instant messaging app LINE FRIENDS and South Korean boyband BTS.

With the license, the firm has launched a series of dietary supplement with eye-catching packaging designs, also sold under the brand name BT21, in June this year.

At present only available in South Korea, the product series range from vitamin C chewable tablets to multi-vitamin gummies.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia ​at Vitafoods Asia in Singapore, Deokyoung Choi, the product development manager at Nutrione, said that with the worldwide popularity of BT21, the firm hoped to attract young consumers to consume dietary supplements.

“In South Korea, most of the people who buy dietary supplements are over the age of 30. We want to open up the young consumers market,” ​Choi said.

In fact, the concept is also meant to help the firm break into markets outside of South Korea, and Vietnam, where it operates via the branch Nutrione Vina.

We have to work on expanding into overseas markets. We will start with selling BT21, since BT21 is popular in Asia…After that, we will launch our other brands, such as BB Lab.”

Collaboration between BT21 and consumer products has been one of the key marketing strategies in recent years. 

South Korean skincare brand Innisfree launched a limited edition of volcanic clay mousse mask featuring BT21 cartoon designs on the product packaging in Singapore about three months ago.    

Probiotics and inner-beauty

Similar to many other firms, Nutrione has created different brands to target different consumer groups.

Besides BT21, the firm has two other supplement brands, BB Lab and Nutrione Life.

Launched in July this year, BB Lab focuses on pre, probiotic powder and fish collagen jelly, shot, and powder sachets for beauty benefits.

The brand is similarly backed by celebrity endorsement, with South Korean movie star Ji-Hyun Jeon fronting the label.    

It has four probiotic products under the brand, using bacteria strains such as lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus, and lactococcus to improve bowel movement or immune system.

Other ingredients, such as selen and zinc are used to protect cells from free radicals and maintain immune system respectively.

To increase the rate of bioavailability, the firm uses a seamless microencapsulation technology for one its product ‘BB Lab Seamless Probiotics’.

Coming in a mixture of prebiotic powder and probiotic micro-capsules, the prebiotic will be delivered to the stomach, while the probiotics which are microencapsulated would survive stomach acid and be delivered into the intestines.

Choi said that the technology provided a bioavailability rate of 90%.

Nutrione Life, on the other hand, is a premium brand that is targeted at older consumers with its lutein and zeaxathin-based supplements.

“We separate the brands to make it easier for consumers to choose the products. BB Lab is for inner beauty, BT21 is targeted at the younger generation, and Nutrione Life is a range of high potency products,”​ Choi explained.  

He added that the firm was collaborating with universities and research centres in conducting clinical studies on the firm’s products.

Beauty concerns and trends

Asked the beauty supplement trend in South Korea, Choi pointed out that most Koreans were more focused on moisture solutions.

“Most Koreans are fair, so whitening is not the key concern for them. Because most Korean women apply make-up, they tend to look for products that can maintain their make-up in the day time, and repair their skin at night.

“And so products that provide anti-wrinkle and moisturising effects are more popular.”

As for the dosage format, he said that jelly packs were the most popular due to the ease of convenience. However, females over the age of 40 years old would prefer liquid products.

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