Think global, act local: The Swisse formula for healthy ageing and longevity in Asia

By Audrey Yow

- Last updated on GMT

For the first time in 10 years, Swisse takes the top spot in the Vitamins & Supplements category for Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands Australia Awards 2024, edging out Blackmores and Nature’s Way, which took second and third place respectively. © Swisse
For the first time in 10 years, Swisse takes the top spot in the Vitamins & Supplements category for Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands Australia Awards 2024, edging out Blackmores and Nature’s Way, which took second and third place respectively. © Swisse

Related tags multivitamins Dietary supplements Dietary supplement industry swisse anti-ageing Vitamin longevity

Swisse has taken the top spot in the Vitamins & Supplements category for Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands Australia Awards 2024 for the first time in 10 years. We find out how a change in its strategy proved to be crucial, and how this influences its Asia focus on healthy ageing and longevity.

In 2020, Swisse pivoted from an export-oriented focus to a domestic driven one, which successfully increased its market share within Australia. But it recognises that Asia is an emerging market for supplements, especially in the areas of healthy ageing and longevity. This coincides with consumer needs in Australia, meaning there are opportunities for product innovation to serve export markets with needs that overlap with domestic demand.

“We try to think global and act local. Where there is shared value in a product or an innovation for multiple markets, we will make that the priority. If a certain market has a local need, we will always take a local approach. It’s a hybrid model where we want Swisse to be the best it can be globally through the best local practices,”​ said Kerrie Wade, director of marketing for Swisse Wellness ANZ.

Parallels between Australian and Asian markets

The long term trends that are coming up really strongly for both markets are healthy ageing and healthy longevity. Apart from increasing lifespan, there is also a focus on increasing health span, which refers to the length of time that a person is healthy.

“How do we get the lifespan and the health span of an individual to marry up so that their quality of life is better for longer and they're able to live the life they want to lead? That's something that's very much on the landscape for Chinese customers and for our Chinese development team,”​ said Wade, who notices a lot of synergy between the Australian and Chinese markets in terms of product development.

She also observed that the COVID-19 pandemic made people put health and wellbeing as a priority.

Traditionally, VMS has always been taken by those who are over 50, and this tends to be very reactive as well – they only start taking supplements when they have a certain health problem. But the consumer base has widened, and there is an increasing interest in the beauty-from-within space, where consumers are discovering how gut health can affect stress, mood and sleep, which in turn affects our physical appearance and overall wellbeing.

“Post-COVID, with health and wellbeing becoming so important, we’re seeing younger people entering this space. The pandemic forced people to prioritise health. This has really benefitted brands like Swisse because we can help people meet their nutrition goals, and to feel and look better. Consumers are also thinking more about beauty from within, and they’re asking what are the supplements they can take for holistic health so that they can look good and feel better. So, there’s a drive towards using supplements to support gut health,”​ said Wade.

Wade also observed that in Australia and Asia, there is a demand for premium products that can meet a variety of needs.

“For example, in Singapore, consumers prioritise premium quality and range. Like in China and Australia, the per capita spending on VMS (vitamins, minerals and supplements) is high, and the penetration of VMS in these markets is significant,”​ said Wade.

However, most Asian regions are still not taking VMS as a part of their daily routine. They take supplements only when they need a boost in certain areas to help them get through daily life. Nevertheless, Wade sees an opportunity for growth in the region because it is an emerging market with a lot of potential, especially in the healthy ageing and longevity space.

Trusted solutions for healthy ageing and longevity

The term ‘longevity’ has a holistic connotation that encompasses all aspects of ageing, while ‘anti-ageing’ has always been associated with beauty brands that focus on skin health.

“Longevity is more about how we can tackle the cellular deconstruction that causes the ageing process. Healthy longevity is quite a new territory and there are lots of new active ingredients that are emerging in the market,”​ said Wade.

Anti-ageing is a part of longevity science because it is about feeling good and looking good for longer, and this is a massive opportunity for brands like Swisse.

“Ageing happens because our cellular energy starts to become less effective as we get older. In the consumer's mind, anti-ageing has always been very beauty-led, but I think they will eventually understand that ageing is actually a holistic process. There are lots of triggers – my knee hurts, my arm's a little bit sore, my head hurts, I can't see as well. It's about tackling a much broader range of needs states within healthy ageing,”​ explained Wade as she goes on to describe how Swisse strives to deliver science-backed solutions for consumers.

Every Swisse product follows the PPAE model – premium, proven, aspirational, and engaging. There are also established claims linked to clinical studies and scientific research that consumers can look up.

To further help consumers understand what each product can do for them, Swisse has started to conduct a new form of research called Real World Studies, which are human trials where participants provide records of how a Swisse product has impacted them.

“These are validated claims that we can use in our marketing so that consumers can see what others experienced when they took our products,”​ said Wade.

Upcoming plans

Adding to its anti-ageing product line, Swisse will also be launching its new nootropics range, which focusses on cognition and memory, in the later part of 2024.

It also has an upcoming campaign to promote its collagen range. Like its gummies campaign, which targets areas like hair, skin, nails, and collagen glow, the aim is to engage new and younger consumers who are generally not keen on ingesting tablets and capsules.

“The younger consumers like powders, gummies, chewables and smart melts. So a lot of innovation effort goes into different dosage formats that can engage newer consumers by offering a fun and functional way to incorporate VMS into their daily life,” said Wade.

“Typically, an Australian consumer will enter the VMS category around the age of 30. We then look at their different emerging need states like beauty from within, stress, and sleep. This is one way to engage them so they can migrate to other products in our range that meet different need states as they get older.”

As for the Gen Zs, Swisse has a range for kids and hopes to launch products for young adults as well.

“The Gen Zs are on our radar because they're very influential and their opinions are very strong. They are important because we want to be their brand of choice when they grow older,”​ said Wade.

Healthier Product Innovation will be taking centre stage at our Growth Asia Summit 2024 this coming July, which will feature insights from a wide range of industry leaders and experts. Don't miss out – register here today!

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