CEO of Herbs of Gold ANZ, Shaun Rutherford told NutraIngredients-Asia that there has been strong interest in breastfeeding support in the Vietnamese market.
This is why the brand is planning to penetrate the market by establishing among mothers, since they are also the key decision makers for household purchases.
“Vietnam's been on the radar for us for a number of years…Similar to China, there's Vietnamese daigou who are buying the products here in Australia from retailers and sending across to their friends and families.
“We are definitely seeing an interest from a lot of the Vietnamese daigou and local retailers in Australia for products like breastfeeding support, which are seeing strong interest in the Vietnamese market,” said Rutherford who was appointed the CEO this year.
Herbs of Gold has signed an exclusive contract with Con Cưng – one of the largest mum-and-baby retail chain in Vietnam which has 708 stores and is on track to expanding to 2,000 stores by 2025.
The brand will be launched into Vietnam in the fourth quarter of this year.
The plan is to launch 12 products before widening the range from the brand’s existing 120 SKUs based on consumer demands.
Its Breastfeeding Support, for example, is a traditional herbal formula that contains fenugreek seed extract and blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) for lactation support.
“We believe it's going to be a really good fit for our strategy around education. Also, the consumer demographic that goes into those stores is predominantly females, mums, and we understand from data that they are the key decision makers in vitamin purchases for the households.
“We will continue to understand consumer demands, conduct consumer research, and understand the key areas where we have a point of difference for our brand and then we'll target those areas, just like how we do it for China.”
Described as a “low-risk environment”, the mum-and-baby stores would allow the brand to “test and learn” before entering the country’s modern chain pharmacies, he added.
Prior to the launch of Herbs of Gold, Vita Life Sciences has been selling its other supplement brand VitaHealth in Vietnam. Rutherford said that the smaller brand would be focusing on independent pharmacies instead.
In its financial results published in March, the firm said that revenue from Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia was up 15 per cent to AUD$2.34 (US$1.55m) due to good growth in Vietnam.
China: Key but not sole focus for growth
China is the other important export market for the brand, which Rutherford said was “definitely the key focus” but cautioned that it also “doesn’t solely rely on China” for growth.
The brand entered China three years ago and currently has an office in Shanghai which oversees its free trade zone and cross-border e-commerce operations.
“We only sell online in China through the main e-commerce channels like Tmall, JD, VIP, Kaola, The Little Red Book etc and recently we just launched in TikTok, which is an emerging channel.
“Our China business is definitely the key focus for us, but at the same time, like most Australian businesses, we want to make sure that we don't solely rely on China for our growth,” Rutherford said.
He explained that this was because there were risks that come along with opportunities abound in China.
“We've been taking a very measured, careful approach around growing China in a sustainable way, so I think that the area that Herbs of Gold has been able to do well is to grow our market in a sustainable, long-term with a long-term view.”
To grow sustainably in China, he said it was crucial to understand the consumer demand, as well as forecasting demand accurately.
“It's about building your supply chain to a point where you got enough inventory to meet any growth but at the same time making sure that this pulls through this consumer demand as well.”
In its first year of business in China, the brand reported 336 per cent growth. Between 2021 and 2022, the growth was 131 per cent.
Its top-sellers in China include St Mary’s Thistle for supporting healthy liver function, Quercetin, Ubiquinol, Activated Sublingual B12, and Lung Care.