‘Functional and tasty’: Kirin on ‘bridging the gap’ between awareness and action in immune category

By Si Ying Thian

- Last updated on GMT

Kirin launches new immune care product, aiming to close gap between consumer awareness and action for immune health © Getty Images
Kirin launches new immune care product, aiming to close gap between consumer awareness and action for immune health © Getty Images

Related tags Immune health Probiotics Yoghurt

Japanese beverage giant Kirin says it wants to close the “gap between consumer awareness and action” in immune health on the back of a new product launch and tweaks to two of its existing products.

The firm will roll out Kirin Oishii Immune Care across the Japanese market in March, and has made changes to the design and taste for two of its existing immune care products – Kirin iMUSE Immune Care Water and Kirin Nama-cha Immune Care.

Kirin Oishii Immune Care 100ml PET bottle © Kirin

Yuta Konishi, senior brand manager at the marketing department of Kirin Beverage, told NutraIngredients-Asia​ that the products contained its proprietary functional ingredient Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma​ (LC-Plasma), and the priority was to combine both function and taste.

“Taste is a new thing to the [immune care product] category. The products tend to be named after bacteria, so maybe it’s boring [for consumers]. This [Oishii Immune Care] has a right amount of [yoghurt] sweetness and acidity – being satisfying and drinkable. 

“Also, you can see from the design that it has curves, and the blue and white colours express a refreshing taste of yoghurt.” 

For iMUSE Immune Care Water, the words ‘immune care’ and ‘plasma lactic acid bacteria’ gold mark were accentuated on the packaging to emphasise the product benefits.

For Nama-cha Immune Care - a green tea-flavoured product, the team enhanced “the sweetness of the tea leaves, making it easy to continue drinking it every day.​” They also claimed to have revamped the packaging design to “make it easy to tell at a glance that it is an "immune care tea."​                                                                     

Mainstreaming immune care

The results from the consumer survey conducted by Kirin in 2022 elicited a large gap between awareness and behaviour among the respondents – a potential market opportunity that Kirin wants to tap on.

The survey found that an estimated 85% were aware of the importance of immunity for good health but only about 11% of them had immune care habits.

This immune care [product range] is all about creating new market. We want to create new habits and bringing these habits to into our consumers’ lives​,” Kirin told us.

Evidently, the delivery formats, for this product range, have been intentional to convey its functional benefits.

Kirin Oishii Immune Care is only available in 100 ml PET bottles, and the small delivery format, as Konishi tells us, is intended to convey that the drink is more nutrient-packed.

Compared to its other best-selling products - iMUSE Immune Care Water and Nama Cha – packaged in 500 ml PET bottles, they are purposed for occasions where consumers can easily pick them up and “drink them wherever and whenever they want.​”

We are working to develop a broad line-up of products that can be easily picked up to suit a variety of situations. If consumers have a heavy interest in health, they go to medicines or supplements,

“But most people do not have that heavy interest as they are usually healthy, so availability is key to reaching out to [these consumers],​” Konishi added.

Expansion strategy

Kirin outlined plans to continue expanding its product pipeline by focusing on improving the availability of its immune care products.

The firm recently announced a 40% growth in their sales of its LC-Plasma for 2022 compared to previous year.

Aside from conducting surveys to better understand their consumers’ needs and preferences, academic peer reviews used to dominate much of Kirin’s strategy to better reach its consumers.

Since November 2022, we initiated new strategy of improving interest and building credibility through third-party voices, such as academia, social media influencers and actual customers; and restructuring the advertisement framework.​”

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