The market is currently dominated by probiotics targeted at the needs of adults, the general population, and children.
This is according to the findings of Lumina Intelligence report, the market insights platform is operated by William Reed, the publisher of NutraIngredients-Asia.
In the report “China: Probiotic supplements in e-commerce”, Lumina Intelligence tracked the consumer engagements sold on China’s e-commerce websites between 2017 and July 2020.
Data on 161 products was tracked and analysed.
One key point was that there was a “clear gap in the probiotic offering for seniors”, said the report.
Out of the 161 products tracked, only one product – Life Space Probiotic for 60+ Years – is targeted at the seniors.
With over 34k consumer reviews and a high satisfaction rate of 4.93 over a total score of 5, Life Space has set a strong foundation for the expansion of the senior category, said the report.
“Given the scale of the demographic, social and economic impact of ageing in China, couple with heightened government interest in healthy ageing, this may be a category worthy of further new product development,” said the report.
However, it also noted that online product marketing towards seniors will need to confront a number of issues.
They include seniors not wanting to associate themselves with the term ‘senior’, pill fatigue, and the resistance to the online shopping.
As compared to other categories, probiotics for seniors are not well-developed.
One of the new launches in APAC is Menolacto by South Korean company Huons. The product claims to alleviate menopausal symptoms and was launched in the country in April.
“The situation [lack of probiotics for seniors] is by far not unique to China, this is the case in most other countries. A pretty big gap in the market overall,” said Ewa Hudson, director of insights at Lumina Intelligence.
“My recommendation would be to either take the macro view and work with the concept of preserving the gut flora diversity that naturally diminishes with age to appeal to the senior audience or focus on very specific benefits such as constipation that disproportionally affect seniors.”
Out of the 161 products tracked during the research, most probiotics are targeted towards adults (33 products), the general population (32 products), and children (31 products).
Pregnant, breastfeeding women
There is also a lack of probiotics targeted at the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding women, according to the report.
Nonetheless, there is a growing consumer interest in such products.
The number of online consumer reviews for such probiotics hit 61k as of July 2020, which was a CAGR growth of 124% (between 2017 and 2020).
Findings showed that consumers’ satisfaction with this category of probiotics could be further improved.
Across the board, consumers’ rating is highest for probiotics for seniors, followed by infants, the general public, children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, adults, and women.
The rating for probiotics for women’s health is the lowest at 4.83 out of five.
At the same time, there is also a fast-growing number of reviews for women’s health.
Between 2017 and 2020, the fastest growth in consumer engagement in China was recorded by probiotics to support urinary tract infections.
One of the new probiotic launches for breastfeeding women is Aptamama by Danone. The product, exclusively sold in China at the moment, is said to prevent lactation mastitis.
“This category is going to continue to grow as the focus goes back from COVID-19 to the first 1000 days nutrition…There are opportunities in both developed and developing countries. There is research around eczema, for example with the prevention [of diseases in infants] starting in the womb,” said Hudson.
Highest rated dosage format
Probiotics in the form of caplets have received the highest online rating in China, with 4.92 stars out of five.
Chewable tablets had the lowest rating at 4.82 stars.
Overall, probiotics sold in the form of packets, sachets, and stick packs have garnered the most amount of consumer discussion online.
Between 2017 and 2020, such products have accumulated over 2.1 million consumer reviews.
On the other hand, liquid probiotics are fast gaining consumers’ attention, with the number of reviews up by 186% in the first half of 2020.
Most common health claims
Out of the 161 products tracked, the most prevalent health claim is digestion, with 109 products making the claim.
Also, this category received the highest number of consumer reviews at 2.86 million pieces of reviews as of July 2020.
Immune health is the second most prevalent claim, with 46 products making such claim, while 1.4 million pieces of consumer reviews have been recorded.
The report, which includes expert industry commentary from NutraIngredients-Asia editor-in-chief Gary Scattergood - also analyses the price points, probiotic suppliers and brands which received the highest number of consumer reviews and more.
Find out more about the report here.