Online China expansion: Nestle’s personalised nutrition brand Persona reveals e-commerce strategy

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Persona's new biodegradable vitamin pack.
Persona's new biodegradable vitamin pack.

Related tags Persona China personalised nutrition

Persona, a Nestle Health Science-acquired personalised nutrition brand, will be opening flagship stores on Tmall and JD to make its products more widely available to consumers in China via e-commerce.

The questionnaire-based personalised nutrition programme has been made available to consumers in more than 60 countries since March. The three-year-old firm was acquired by Nestle Health Science last August.

Users are required to complete an online questionnaire that assesses their health and nutrition status and a set of dietary supplements will be recommended based on their needs. Each set of recommended supplements comes in a 28-day dosage format.

The company told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that the domestic US market contributed the lion’s share of sales, followed by Canada and UK. APAC countries Australia and Singapore also made it to its top five markets. 

Speaking about the APAC markets, Alex Lindsay, VP of international business development, said Australia had the best response in APAC, partly because there was already a common habit of taking supplements.

If you look at the data in where Australia is, it is the largest consumer of supplements in APAC in per capita terms.

China is the biggest supplement market in APAC but in terms of how much each person spends a year on supplements, Australia takes the cake,” ​he said.

The JD and Tmall flagship stores are expected to operate next month. At present, it offers its service in China via its official website.

With the new retail channels, the company plans to take on a slightly different approach, where consumers can purchase the essential packs without going through a health assessment, Lindsay said.

Adopting this strategy helps the company reach out to more Chinese consumers which may not be familiar with the concept of personalised nutrition.  

This is also the first time that the company is taking such an approach.

"We believe that offering and opportunity to try some of our core protocols through channels such as Tmall and JD, will give our brand greater visibility and allow Chinese consumers an opportunity to trial our program through channels they know and trust.

"Since it is a channel very familiar to them, they are more likely to try Persona and start their wellness journey with supplement programs tailored to their needs," ​he said. 

To do so, the company will be offering ‘essential packs’ customised to the needs of people of different age groups and gender, such as a set of supplements for men’s health, women’s health, healthy ageing, and improving energy, sleep quality.

Depending on the packs, the company offers L-theanine and melatonin for the sleep-aid range and green tea extract, vitamin B-12, cordyceps capsules for an energy boost.

Moving forward, the company plans to focus on online expansion but remains open to physical retail options.

Drug-nutrient interaction

Another focus of the company is on assessing potential drug-nutrient interaction, so that the supplements recommended could be effectively absorbed in the body.

To date, the company has examined drug-nutrient interaction in more than 2,000 prescription medicines.

We are also working with a partner in China to learn more about what Asian people are taking and looking at whether there's any medications could strip the nutrients away and what the company can offer to complement the nutrients that are deficient,”​ Lindsay said. 

Biodegradable pack

The company also recently changed all of its plastic supplement packs to biodegradable materials.

The vitamin packs are made of moisture-proof cellophane derived from wood and other plant-based materials, polybutylene succinate with rice powder, organic solvents, and biodegradable ink.

The packs will start to break down in 80 days when they are thrown in the garbage, garden, or compost bins.

The dispenser box containing the vitamin packs, on the other hand, is entirely made from post-consumer waste. 

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