‘Unmet needs’: Ex-Amorepacific beauty team sets up kids supplement brand to fill market gap in South Korea

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Canteen9 is a children's supplement brand launched by South Korean firm DOTS Corporation. © DOTS Corporation
Canteen9 is a children's supplement brand launched by South Korean firm DOTS Corporation. © DOTS Corporation

Related tags: South korea, children, kids nutrition, Probiotic

A group of ex-Amorepacific nutricosmetics employees has established a new kids supplement brand and hopes to make a name for itself in what it sees as a less competitive market brimming with unmet consumer needs.

Previously from Amorepacific’s beauty-from-within brand CUBEME’s sales and operation team​, Byung Yi Hwang and two other members from the brand set up a new company named DOTS Corporation about a year ago.

Specialising in supplements for children between three and 13 years old, the company has launched a total of five SKUs at the moment.

Currently sold in South Korea via the company’s website, the products are launched under the brand name “Canteen9”.

The range addresses four health areas, namely immunity, bone and height, eye health and brain development, and intestinal health.

Canteen9 Hey Bone
Canteen9 "Hey, Bone" supplement

Despite having a background in adult nutrition, the trio decided to explore the kids supplement in their new venture as they saw more opportunities for growth, Hwang, who is now the chief marketing officer at the firm told NutraIngredients-Asia.

“Globally, the supplement market is booming because of COVID-19, and so, the small and medium size companies plus the conglomerates are focusing on the adult supplement market.

“This means that the adult supplement market is very competitive, and so, we believe it will be very hard for our small company to penetrate into that market.”

Nonetheless, there is also a different set of challenges that the company needs to tackle in the kids supplement market.

Hwang said that kids supplement was a “sensitive”​ category, as parents were highly concerned about the safety and price of the nutrition products that they give to their children.

Canteen9 Hey Mmun
Canteen9's "Hey Mmun" immune health supplement

“Parents are concerned about many things, first is the ingredients, and then price and authenticity of the brand. 

“So far, most parents are selecting products from the big conglomerates. There are a few of them, but we think the level of competitiveness is lower when compared to adult supplements market.

“We will also look at entering other parts of Asia, especially China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam market. Their kids supplement markets are increasing dramatically, at a rate faster than the Korean market, and so they are our targets in the upcoming years.” 

Products

There are currently five product SKUs, with the latest a probiotic meant for both kids and parents launched in May.

Hwang said that even though the brand focused on kids’ nutrition, it would also develop products for the entire family needs, as they observed that parents have been looking for products suitable for them and their kids.

The probiotic powder product, known as “Hey, Jang”, contains the probiotic strains L. reuteri, S. thermophilus, ​and B. lactis ​sourced from fellow South Korean ingredient supplier LactoMason. 

Canteen9 Hey Jang
"Hey, Jang" chewable probiotic tablets

It comes in grape and prune flavoured melting powder and claims to promote intestinal health and bowel movement.

There are also plans to introduce two to three more supplements catered to the family by the end of this year. One of them is most likely a protein supplement and the other is for addressing respiratory health problems related to air pollution and fine dust.

Since product commercialisation started last October, Hwang said that the best seller was its “Hey, All” product, which was an assortment consisting of the immune health product known as “Hey, Mmun (short form for immunity)”, bone health product “Hey, Bone”, and eye and brain health product “Hey, Noon (which refers to eye in Korean)”.

“Hey, Mmun” is a blueberry flavoured multi-vitamin chewable tablet. A box contains 20 packs for 10 day use.

“Hey, Bone” is a cocoa flavoured chewable tablet containing calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium. Similarly, it comes in a box containing 20 individual packs.

“Hey, Noon” is a orange flavoured chewable soft capsule containing seaweed-derived beta-carotene, vitamin A, and EPA, DHA omega-3 sourced from Norway.

About 70 per cent of the company's sales came from “Hey & All”, Hwang revealed.

“Immunity is the most important concern and with the frequent use of smart phones, children’s eyesight has been greatly affected, and this has led to the rise of eye health supplements, while height and bone health has always been a concern.”

The products are made in Korea via the OEM companies, namely Natural F&P, Cosmax Bio, and Aram.

Making it a habit

On the other hand, Hwang said the company hoped to cultivate the habit of supplements consumption amongst kids, as such, they have made the supplements into individual packs instead of bottles.

“Canteen refers to a small restaurant in school to deliver perfect and balanced nutrition for kids. We added 9 because we wanted to promote the concept of kids taking supplements at 9am and 9pm each day. 

“We want to promote our unique culture, where kids will take care of their own health.”

The product packaging consists of individual packets packed in a box, so that children can just consume a packet and have the right dosage.

Canteen9 Hey Noon
Canteen9 product packaging

“If the supplements come in individual packs, kids can recognise that a pack is just right for a day’s dose.”

Nonetheless, he stressed that product taste was the most crucial factor for driving long-term consumption.

“Taste is the most important, we had experimented with the taste for 10 times to improve on it,”​ he said.

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