FANCL first entered China’s cross-border e-commerce space in 2018, and now sells 40 to 50 supplements on its main platform, Tmall Global.
According to Takayuki Misawa, from FANCL’s Corporate Planning Office, its Age Bracket-Based supplements series have been performing well.
The series accounts for about 60% of its total sales on Tmall Global. In the first three quarters of this fiscal year, sales doubled year-on-year.
Age Bracket-Based supplements is a series of supplements for men and women of different age groups, ranging from 20s to 60s. They contain an assortment of nutrients needed for each gender and age range. For instance, the supplement for women in their 40s contain collagen, blueberry, lutein, vitamin B and C.
Misawa thinks this series is popular because, “it is easy to understand at a glance which generation and gender should take it from the packaging alone. In addition, since the supplements are individually packaged, they are also useful as souvenirs or gifts.”
Another popular FANCL brand among Chinese consumers is Calolimit, which is said to reduce postprandial blood glucose and triglyceride levels in healthy people, suppressing sugar and fat absorption.
Earlier this year, FANCL started offering a beauty supplement brand (Deep Charge Collagen) in cross-border e-commerce, citing beauty supplements as its second growth pillar, after Age Bracket-Based supplement series.
FANCL recently entered the general trade channel in China, through online (T-mall), duty-free stores and pharmacies on Hainan Island with the aid of its distributor, China Sinopharm International Corporation (subsidiary of Sinopharm Group).
Not to be confused with Tmall Global, Tmall requires merchants to register their products with local China authorities and have local entities, Tmall Global sellers have entities located outside of China and can sell their imported products into China.
In China, in order to sell health foods and supplements through general trade, permit and approval for each product is required, which is not the case for cross-border e-commerce.
This process of obtaining approval is time-consuming and costly: “We started cross-border e-commerce in 2018 in order to effectively utilise the time until we can start general trade sales,” Misawa said.
Currently, FANCL has five vitamins and mineral products approved for sale, and hopes to expand to 15 products by the end of the year.
The company is in discussions to expand into more online stores and physical stores.
Meanwhile, FANCL will continue to sell its products through cross-border e-commerce, since it would take time for a notification of health food to be accepted.
As Chinese consumers become increasing more health consciousness, the intake of supplements is expected to grow upwards at an annual rate of 10%, according to Euromonitor.
Among supplement sales channels in 2019, e-commerce (36%) and door-to-door sales (35%) make up most of the sales in China, followed by pharmacies and drug stores.
This was a jump from 2015, where e-commerce only made up 20% of sales, and door-to-door accounted for the largest share (45%).
FANCL estimates that within the e-commerce market, cross-border e-commerce makes up around 20% of the market, while domestic e-commerce makes up 80%.
FANCL hopes to tap on this huge opportunity with the latest entry into China’s general trade channels.
FANCL is currently formulating a new three-year plan as part of its Vision 2030 to support health and beauty of people. Its mid-term management plan started in April 2018, and will end on March 2021.