Launched in first quarter 2022, NOOCI specialises in Chinese herbal supplements. Its range spans capsules and powder sachets addressing women’s immune support, menstrual relief, and nasal relief.
Its founder Stephanie Tan told NutraIngredients-Asia that it was building NOOCI to be a global brand, and explained why the US was an ideal launchpad for the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) supplements brand.
“The US market is a very mature market in terms of people looking for more natural solutions and supplements. Through COVID-19, they understand it’s not about quick fixes and they’re willing to invest more on the foundational aspects of good health and make a change in their lifestyles.
“Looking at [consumer] acceptance, the target US consumers understand the different modalities of TCM, like acupuncture and guasha. TCM herbs are probably less known and harder to access, due to the lack of transparency [around conventional TCM], so we hope to be at the forefront to unlock this for them.”
NOOCI first launched via its website and with US’ largest distributor of acupuncture supplies Lhasa OMS. Earlier this year, it launched its practitioner’s program – with over 100 healthcare practitioners signed up thus far – to promote understanding of TCM and expand its offline distribution.
E-commerce constitutes a significant share of its revenue, with up to 65% to 70% of its customers on subscription basis.
It launched offline in Hong Kong about two months ago at 20 TCM clinics owned by its manufacturer PuraPharm, as well as online distribution via Cathay Pacific airlines. PuraPharm is involved in the herbs sourcing and manufacturing for NOOCI.
Tan added that South East Asia has its potential due to high consumer acceptance around TCM, while China was a saturated market for TCM.
For other East Asian markets like Japan and South Korea, localised marketing and language are key obstacles to overcome, and the firm does not want to stretch its resources too thin.
On a quest to modernise TCM, Tan wants to make TCM 1) more palatable in terms of taste and format and 2) more accessible in terms of clinical evidence behind its ingredients and labelling.
Conventional TCM is known to take a few hours to prepare and synonymous with a bitter taste. To tackle that, NOOCI chooses to pack them in a powder sachet or a capsule to make it easy for one with a busy lifestyle to take.
Its powder sachets also come in green tea and mint flavours, which Tan said that it can be “easily integrated into their lives” by mixing the powders in a smoothie, coffee, or cereal.
Tan added that information around conventional TCM was “very sparse and fragmented.” Today’s consumers are also seeking out for more information behind what they are consuming.
Its website features an ingredients dropdown and information about its sourcing and manufacturing process.
“We really wanted to bring a research-backed element to it. We have a scientific advisory board made up of TCM experts and integrative health practitioners to build up our clinical evidence around our products.
“NOOCI is very east-meets-west positioning. While we draw ancient wisdom and some of the classical formulations of these herbs, we also look at modern science to see how we can update these formulations.”
Some of its key ingredients include fermented ingredients like soybeans, Coix seeds, and brown rice; alongside other ingredients such as Perilla leaves, Reishi mushroom, and cinnamon.
Tan said that fermented ingredients have its value in gut health and digestion – an area that came up as one of consumer trends guiding its new product development.
NOOCI is planning to launch a gut health supplement in the third or fourth quarter this year.
“It’s a product we’ve been working for the last year and a half. Gut health is something that people really struggle with and are looking for when we talk to our customers. When we did a product survey, it was at the top of everybody’s concern.”
Tan added that it would be a convergence of TCM and probiotics.
She also explained the firm’s focus on women’s health: “When I looked at the way people buy supplements, it’s women. They tend to be the decision-makers at home and more willing to try new things.
“So, I really wanted to reach them to get their buy-in by creating products for them specifically, especially like menstrual support. TCM has also played a significant role in helping with women’s menstrual cycles from the beginning.”