Pregnancy supplement sales slow but beauty-from-within gathers momentum in China - Ali Health insights

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

In terms of women's health, sales of beauty-from-within products are growing in China, while that pregnancy-related supplements have slowed down. © Getty Images
In terms of women's health, sales of beauty-from-within products are growing in China, while that pregnancy-related supplements have slowed down. © Getty Images

Related tags China ali health women's health

Sales of pregnancy related supplements, such as folic acid, have seen a slowdown in China as more women delay marriage and childbirth, according to new insights released by Ali Health.

The Alibaba health firm has published a report examining women’s consumption on health products, which shows a breakdown in the bestselling categories in women of different age groups.

The report was written based on data collected from Yao.Tmall – an e-commerce platform that specialises in the sale of medicines, supplements, TCM and medical devices.

Notably, there is a slowdown in the sales of pregnancy related health products, such as folic acid and ovulation test strips.

“The number of consumers buying folic acid supplements and ovulation test strips did not substantially grow in the past two years, with less than 3 per cent growth rate in both 2019 and 2020,”​ the report said.

For instance, in Sep 2019​, a folic acid DHA supplement from Blackmores was on the top eight bestselling on Alibaba but by Nov 2019, it had fallen out of the top eight list and the trend continued at least until April last year.

Folic acid, a supplement that could help reduce neural tube defects​ in new-borns, is taken by women preparing to conceive or are already pregnant.

The report explained that this modern work life, stress, and the rising number of single women have led to the slowdown.

Overall, women spent on average 20 per cent more than men health products each year.

Last year, women spent about 63 per cent more than men on health products, up from a difference of 38 per cent more in 2019.

The five categories that recorded the highest consumption growth on Yao.Tmall last year were 1) contraceptive pills 2) tools that help with pregnancy recovery 3) beauty-from-within products 4) medicines for post-menopausal symptoms and 5) heat patch for use during menstruation.


Total sales of oral beauty products had doubled last year.

Such products, especially meal replacement and enzymatic products, are popular amongst women born after the turn of the millennium.

Collagen drink and edible bird’s nest, on the other hand, were more popular amongst those born after 1980s.

Data on Tmall shows that there are new brands rising in the ready-to-eat edible bird’s nest sector.

Aside from the well-known Xiao Xian Dun and Yan Zhi Wu, Pao Xiao Yan from a Fujian-based manufacturer and Jihuo from a Tianjin-based manufacturer are now amongst the top sellers on Tmall.

Regional differences

There are also noticeable differences in the types of health products purchased in different regions.

In the North, women are more concerned about “beauty management”, the report said, and hence, edible bird’s nest, enzymes, and weight loss products were more popular.

In the South, “health management” is viewed more importantly, and hence, they most spend on health check-up packages, HPV vaccinations, and sun protection. 

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