These insights were gleaned from an analysis of over 2,100 probiotics products sold online across some 1,000 brands and over 800 companies, said Lumina Intelligence Director of Insights Ewa Hudson.
“Although the United States probiotic supplements e-commerce market size remains the largest worldwide at some US$384mn (45% of the total global market), the second and third largest markets hail from Asia: China at US$172mn (20% of global) and Japan at US$134mn (16% of global),” Hudson told the audience when speaking at our recent Probiota Asia 2019 event in Singapore.
“Here, the importance of consumer reviews shines through, and the numbers prove it: Other research has shown that products with reviews are 270% more likely to be purchased, and 72% of consumers will wait to read reviews before deciding to make the purchase.
“The reasoning here is simple – consumers have already tried many products and found that some work and some don’t, so they want reassurance that it works before making the purchase.”
When it came to country-specific data, it was found that the correlation between review numbers and successful online sales were found to be the strongest (0.7 and above) in China and South Korea within Asia, as well as UK, Germany, Belgium and Spain outside of Asia.
How much is enough
In China, Hong Kong-headquartered firm Biostime leads the charge in Chinese probiotics with over 2.5 million online product reviews and an average of 4.9 stars, far ahead of its closest competitors in terms of review numbers (below 500,000).
“That said, Culturelle which comes in second place with 250,000 reviews has an average of 4.8 stars. In fact, all the probiotics that had over 3,000 reviews scored 4.8 stars or more,” said Hudson.
In short, in the China probiotics market, the advice for product manufacturers is to aim for to achieve over 4.8 stars in order to even think about competing with current market leaders.
“It is very important to get this in order to increase consumer engagement in order to achieve growth – the stakes are very high here, so companies must keep this in mind,” she said.
However, she cautioned that although this pattern was clear in China, it might not be so straightforward elsewhere – for example, in Taiwan even products that scored 4.8 might not get more than 2,000 reviews, whereas in South Korea products with a 4.4 rating might get about 3,000 reviews.
“The star rating requirement for reviews is different elsewhere – In Japan it must be 3.5 stars and above, in India this is 3.9 stars, in South Korea this is 4.2 stars and in Australia this is 4.5 stars. Products with lower ratings are likely to be delisted,” she said.
What does Asia want
In Asia as a whole though, she emphasized that the region is ready for Life Stage probiotic products, as opposed to general types.
“This is especially clear for children products, which are way in the lead with an average of 20,000 reviews,” she said.
“Other areas that are gaining traction include bone health, eczema and gut-brain target probiotic products.”
Additionally, she advised companies to look at products containing more probiotics strains, proprietary strains, or which also had prebiotics or enzymes added, as these tended to see good ratings and review numbers from within Asia as well.
Future Outlook – India
India was also highlighted as an important future market for the probiotics industry, based on high online interest.
“Moving forward, it is also predicted that as growth in China slows down, India will be the next strategic market for probiotics e-commerce,” said Hudson.
“Our data shows that it has the fourth highest number of reviews amongst APAC countries at 16,000, behind [the mature e-commerce markets of] China (3.96mn), South Korea (212,000) and Taiwan (27,000).”