The firm raised raised US$6 million in a series B funding round led by Unilever Ventures at the end of last year. Existing investor DSG Consumer Partners and several undisclosed new backers also participated in the round.
Youvit, which previously specialised in gummies, first tested the Malaysia market in 2021 with a limited range of vitamin products in small seven-day packs.
But the funding windfall has since seen it expand into 1,500 stores in the country, spanning wellness stores, major pharmacies such as Watson and Guardian, and supermarkets. The brand has also since increased its product range to cover beauty gummies.
It is now turning its attention to new product formats, and has already launched a high fibre powdered drink and a collagen powdered drink.
CEO Wouter Van Der Kolk said that some of the limitations of the gummy format had driven its innovation strategy.
“In terms of active ingredients, it may not be possible for us to incorporate them in gummies.
“That’s where we wanted to experiment with different formats by looking at what are the nutritional deficiencies in the population. If we can’t do it in a gummy form, maybe we can do it in a powder format. [With powder], there is also an added dimension of the hydration and refreshing to the taste.
“In gummy, it would not be possible. You would need some ridiculous dosage from five to six gummies a day, which is not a good idea. A drink can do better than a gummy when it comes to digestive and gut health”
Its high fibre powdered drink aids digestion, and contains ingredients such as prebiotic inulin, probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis, psyllium husk, vitamins B12 and C, and five super greens to aid digestion.
Its collagen drink helps with skin glow, and contains vitamins C and E, fish collagen tripeptide, niacinamide, saffron and antioxidant glutathione.
Some other targeted concerns the firm is eyeing at include energy and immunity.
“There are plenty of lifestyle issues we’re looking at that are somehow rooted at deficiencies in nutrition. We’ll continue to develop the gummy range as well, and there’ll be more on the new formats side. We started with these two powdered drinks, but the overall vision is to build that in a wider portfolio alongside the gummies.”
Expansion potential in home market
Its best-selling products is its beauty gummies spanning its biotin for stronger hair and collagen for glowing skin. There has been an increasing demand for beauty-from-within supplements in South East Asian markets generally.
In Indonesia, while it claimed its presence in more than 20,000 stores, it sees greater potential for brick-and-mortar expansion in independent pharmacies, beauty and cosmetic stores, mother and baby stores and local supermarkets.
Notably, van der Kolk pointed out that Youvit’s advantage in developing markets is also in its online presence: “Our competitors are generally traditional companies like big pharma, and not start-ups like us. It’s in our DNA to be very strong online, in terms of digital marketing and direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels from our website sales. We manage everything online directly in-house, and don’t use agencies for it. That is really another core strength of the business.”
Tik Tok is currently its fastest growing online sales channel in Indonesia.
Targeting developing markets
Youvit hopes to position itself as a major South East Asian brand targeting middle-income consumers.
“We’re going to explore other markets that fit into the narrative. Specifically, we’re exploring Thailand. It’s not very soon, but we recently returned from Thailand from talks with potential partners,” 'van der Kolk added.
“We were designed for these middle income or upper-middle income markets. That’s what differentiates us from a lot of the other brands that come from developed markets like US and Australia.
“They have bigger pack sizes with high price points. They may not account for things like the humid climate [to store the supplements] and the spending power of customers here. That’s why we have the seven-day packs here.
“But these [middle income] markets are still important. We managed to find a way to make affordable premium products – while the price is a bit lower, the quality of the products is still good.”