Beyond livestreaming: How BYHEALTH is securing e-comm success via distributor empire, private domain management in China
Operating out of Australia, BYHEALTH International is a subsidiary of China’s BY-HEALTH, and oversees the firm’s health foods business in APAC. It also sells health foods via cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) through Tmall and JD into China.
The products sold include milk thistle tablets, melatonin strip, collagen gummies, and iron powder sachet.
According to the company, while livestreaming is a highly popular tool for companies to engage consumers, it is mainly useful for attracting first-time consumers and companies will need to tap on other means to retain consumers.
“Livestreaming is just a bonus, not the major sales channel…For instance, we can sell tons of thousands of bottles of milk thistle in two minutes using live streaming, but in fact, we can sell much more of that through our own [e-commerce] channels, so we are not dependent on live streaming at all.
“For us, it is just a way to attract new customers. It's very important to maintain and manage the private domain users after the live streaming session,” Jesse Gu, head of sales and marketing at BYHEALTH International told NutraIngredients-Asia.
The company had conducted livestreaming with Chinese livestreaming Xinba – a.k.a Lion King – on Tmall last year. Xinba, whose real name is Xin Youzhi, first made a name for himself as the “sales king” on Kuaishou video app.
Recently, the lavish lifestyles of popular livestreamers or key opinion leaders (KOLs) have attracted media attention, as some of them, including one of the most well-known KOLs, Viya Huang, was caught for tax evasion.
Against the backdrop, some companies which we had spoken with have been considering alternative options, such as building their team of in-house KOLs. Some were also concerned with the long-term profitability of livestreaming.
BY-HEALTH focused on building a distributor empire on CBEC platforms last year, which Gu said was beneficial in building brand awareness and brand credibility amongst consumers.
Under this arrangement, the company works with various distributors in selling the products on CBEC platforms.
“For some brands which don’t have a China team, they only have a flagship store, but one flagship store is not going to bring in good sales. You have to build a distribution empire.
“For example, last year, we worked directly with many distributors on Tmall and JD in China. This not only expands the sales channels but also is good for product awareness.
“This is because when consumers see that there is only one store selling a particular product, they will think that the product is not very trustworthy. However, if many stores on Tmall and JD are selling the same product, it means that the product is very popular,” Gu said.
She added that this tactic had worked for the distributors as well.
“This is also good from the business development perspective. When I was approaching new distributors last year, the first thing that they did is to go on to JD and Tmall to see how many other stores are selling my products.
“If only one or two stores are selling the products, they will not be very interested, but if many stores are selling the products, then they will be interested.
“This is good for brand awareness, sales, and enhance your market share. The next step is then to manage your private domain.”
Asked if working with various distributors would lead to unnecessary competition, she said that the company would support the distributors by allowing them to sell the products at a lower price than BY-HEALTH International’s flagship store.
“You can see this as a form of healthy competition. We provide all the distributors with the same product price and the same level of support.”
“Usually, the distributors are selling the products at a better price than the flagship store. For example, we let them sell the products at RMB$5 or RMB$10 cheaper than the flagship store so that their products are more attractive,” she said, adding that consumers tended to buy from distributor stores due to more attractive prices.
As for the flagship store, its main target is loyal or returning consumers.
In fact, the so-called ‘private domain management’ of flagship online stores is one of the most talked about marketing strategies in China.
“You have to have a way to manage your current customers so that they will become returning customers and bring in long-term benefits and profits to the business.
“For our flagship store on Tmall and JD, you can see that we have offered a lot of rewards to attract returning customers. We have a whole team dedicated to doing this.
“After you have managed to build your hero product, you need to think of how to maintain your private domain and retain your customers. You have to think of the types of on-platform marketing that you can do and how you can trade resources with JD, Tmall, Douyin (Chinese version of Tiktok).”
Some of the on-platform marketing tools include flash sales. She also pointed out tools such as ‘cost-per-click’ (CPC) and ‘pay-per-click’ (PPC) digital marketing methods.
At the moment, the company’s bestsellers on CBEC platforms are its milk thistle tables and Sleep Pro dissolvable melatonin strip.
“Having a good product is very important. For example, the BYHEALTH International milk thistle and the Sleep Pro products are highly rated by our consumers.”
Gu also pointed out the importance of identifying and riding on emerging market trends. In the case of health and wellness, she said that liver health was one of the emerging categories in China.
Probiotics brand Culturelle also pointed out that in China, there has been a growing momentum for products targeted at liver related benefits.
“You have to research the data as a whole category and find out which category is driving customer growth.
“If you already have a hero product in this category, you should plan to expand your SKUs to maintain a larger market share in this category.”
Watching videos is a favourite pastime of many in China and BY-HEALTH is riding on the trend by pushing out new videos to promote its products.
Most of the videos are only about 30 to 40 seconds long, Gu said.
“We have tested a lot of scenarios to market our products. For example, we have tested and positioned our milk thistle on individuals who stay up late or those who care about their skin health and detoxification.
“For Sleep Pro, it is positioned as a melatonin product that consumers can take before bed without having to brush their teeth after taking it.
“We are focused on our ROI. We analyze our video content every single week and then see how we can improve on the content.”