The brand is behind the range of kids supplements known as Kids Smart.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Airing Wang, head of marketing (China) at PharmaCare Laboratories – which owns Nature’s Way, said that sales of the firm’s eye health supplement for kids have jumped 300 per cent as compared to last year.
In FY22, the brand has sold over one million units of the supplement in China via cross-border e-commerce.
Marketed as Nature’s Way Kids Smart Vita Gummies Eye Health, the product was one of the finalists of NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2022’s Editors Award for Infant and Child Nutrition Initiative.
The blueberry-flavoured gummy contains vitamin A and a five-to-one ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin.
Wang explained that parents were investing in eye health supplements as the use of digital devices among children has become increasingly common, with their time spent on devices becoming longer as well.
Citing data from Common Sense Media, she pointed out that children under eight years old were spending over two hours a day on digital devices. This goes up for older kids aged eight to 10, who are said to spend about six hours per day, and up to nine hours for those in secondary school.
“In this digital era, young children more than ever spend a considerable amount of time using digital devices for their learning, playing, and social interactions,” Wang pointed out.
She observed a surge in demand for eye health kids supplements in China about 12 months ago.
“Bone health and DHA are still strong categories for kids, but eye health is strongly coming up with lifestyle changes.”
The product will therefore be one of the key SKUs that the company is promoting during the Double 11 Shopping Festival in China.
In fact, the company has started on heavy promotion on the category since mid-year.
“A very important learning point for us is that the eye health category is not quite promotion driven as compared to the other categories.
“The product price is not fluctuating as much or impacted by mega sales. It is a long-lasting concern and is always on demand…We are looking to establish eye health as a constant, ongoing demand.
“We have actually started to promote the eye health product heavily and deliver the messaging around eye health in the media since June, July, instead of waiting until Double 11 to promote it.
“By doing so, we can get more exposure than the peak season when all the brands are starting to make noise about their products,” she said.
On the other hand, the product has been upgraded to include clinically backed patented ingredients as well as adopting an improved coating technology.
Wang pointed out that while the formulation has all along used the five to one ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin, the firm, in its product upgrading process, has used the patented ingredient known as Lute-gen plus.
Lute-gen plus consists of patented lutein and zeaxanthin derived from marigold flowers.
In addition, the firm has adopted a coating technology known as FlexiCoat to improve the gummies’ texture.
“We are constantly improving on the product taste, and so we have done a little bit of a twist to make it more delicious, and we have adopted the FlexiCoat technology to the manufacturing process as well.
“This keeps the gummies fresh in the bottles and prevents the gummies from sticking together.”
Breaking the stereotype
Last month, the brand also launched an adult eye health gummy as part of its high strength gummy range. The aim of launching a high strength gummy is to break the stereotype that functional gummies are only as good as snacks and are inferior to supplement tablets and capsules in terms of efficacy.
Known as Nature’s Way High Strength Adult Vita Gummies Eye Health, this is a one-a-day gummy product. Each gummy contains 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin, as well as bilberry extract equivalent to 450mg of bilberry dry fruit.
“For most of the eye health tablet supplements in the market, the highest dose is about 10mg of lutein per tablet, but we can make a gummy to contain the same dose as a tablet.
“We have used a strong technology that can load so much nutrition in one gummy for this eye health product. Normally, you will need to take two or three gummies to achieve the same dose as a tablet,” Wang said.
Asked the reason for making a high-strength one-a-day gummy, she pointed that this was meant to break the stereotype that gummies were only as good as snacks.
“From our consumer insight, we found that lots of consumers do not see gummies as a serious supplement concept, it’s more like a snack to them and we want to break this stereotype.
“There’s also an industry trend showing that more and more people want to choose gummy as a supplement format, but their concern is that a gummy is not going to be as strong as a tablet.”
Other high-strength gummies launched last month include an iron and vitamin C product and a zinc product.
The high strength gummy range is now available in Australia and China.