Daisy Li
Daisy is an Associate Director with the Mintel Food & Drink team, speciliasing in the China market. She monitors and reports on the latest innovation and trends impacting the Chinese food and drink market.

The vitamins and supplements (VMS) category in China is experiencing strong growth, fuelled by changing attitudes among consumers. The focus for health supplements is no longer solely treatment of ailments, but also on prevention. This new approach encourages more frequent consumption of health supplements.

Young consumers as active supplement takers

Young Chinese consumers nowadays are increasingly interested in health maintenance and are translating this interest into action. Mintel research on health supplements in China reveals that there is a growing number of young consumers purchasing single vitamin and mineral supplements, indicating that they are seeking vastly different products and formats than older generations.

Another huge difference from the traditional way of maintaining health lies in the fact that younger generations believe in ‘playing hard, supplementing hard’. They choose to take supplements as a way of compensating for their indulgent way of living, instead of achieving a balanced inner-body status. For example, these consumers may stay up all night and then take pills claiming to have anti-ageing benefits daily. In this case, we see an opportunity for brands to tailor their positioning and communication to younger consumers by tuning into their lifestyles and attitudes.

Fun-seeking in health supplements formats

Young consumers’ health supplements needs are different. As well, the format of the product can make a difference. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), the most widely-seen format of health supplements is in tablet form, while consumers are looking forward to more products in capsule and liquid formats. Mintel research on health supplements confirms that capsule and liquid formats are most preferred when it comes to Chinese consumers.

In the meantime, gummies, chews and effervescent tablets seem to have more potential among young consumers, probably because they are convenient and also fun to take. Therefore, brands can dive into developing innovative and appealing formats that suit the taste and lifestyles of these young consumers.

Vitafusion Power C Immune Support Gummy Adult Vitamins, US
This product from the US provides as much vitamin C as 10 tangerines and is recommended to be taken at home and at work.

The Good Vitamin Co. Good Biotin Skin Hair Nails Dietary Supplement, New Zealand
This product from New Zealand is said to offer strong, full hair, healthy nails as well as radiant skin, and is suitable for men and women on the go.

What we think

The Chinese VMS category is growing as new foreign brands flood the market to meet increased consumer demand. The category is no longer the domain of older generations, as a new breed of young modern consumers is using health supplements to help balance the excesses of their modern lifestyles. Building more relevance, from product benefits, formats, and communication, will help brands and companies stand out among this new generation of consumers.