Nestlé Health Science acquired Vital Proteins last year and the brand was introduced to China during the Hainan Expo held between May 7 and 10.
Vital Proteins specialises in collagen supplements for a variety of benefits, including supporting hair, skin, nails, bones, joints health, and workout recovery. Its products come in various formats, such as powder, shots, bars, and capsules.
At the moment, there are two Vital Proteins products available to the China consumers via cross-border e-commerce on Tmall. They are the 1) Original Collagen Peptides powder, unflavoured and the 2) Marine Collagen powder, also unflavoured. Both are the brand’s bestsellers in the US.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, senior brand manager Ronnie Wang said the focus for the brand in China would be to drive home the message that collagen products could confer benefits beyond beauty.
“Collagen supplements are relatively well known and can be considered as a mature market in China. Collagen drinks and powder products have been sold in both online and offline channels and there are many local brands selling these products as well.
“Most consumers understand the benefits of collagen for skin health, such as better hydration or to improve the elasticity of the skin.
“But we think we need to educate the Chinese consumers that collagen can do more than skin health, including supporting joint health and sports performance.”
He said that Vital Proteins has been considered as a lifestyle brand in the US where consumers would take it for sports and skin health.
“In the US, Vital Proteins is considered a lifestyle brand, you can consume it with your coffee together with your physical exercise. You can also drink it if you want to improve your skin.
“The consumers in the West understand the different benefits of collagen, while for the Chinese consumers, there is still a long way to go. “
“Collagen is not only for beauty and it is not something only for the females but is also important for men and consumers of different ages.”
Wang emphasised that the collagen powder does not contain any excipient and consist of collagen sourced from an international collagen ingredient supplier and manufactured based on the technology from Vital Proteins’ US team.
Upcoming product launch
Vital Proteins aims to introduce a total of 20 product SKUs in China by the end of this year, said Wang.
The new products are meant for different uses, ranging from the classic, pure collagen peptide range for general wellness, to collagen peptide powder for beauty, where ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are added to promote the body’s collagen production.
Other new products will also come from the lifestyle and immune health range.
Matcha collagen is an example from the lifestyle range as it could serve as an alternative to coffee with its caffeine content, while its immune range includes an immune booster stick pack containing L-glutamine, vitamin C, zinc, patented ingredients Wellmune from Kerry and Immuno-LP20 by House Wellness Foods.
“As a leading health brand in America, Vital Proteins offers a professional portfolio with various product solutions. The brand purpose is to help consumers maximise their overall wellbeing, from the inside out,” Cecily Gu, regional business head of Nestlé Health Science Greater China said.
The brand is planning to work with key opinion leaders to educate consumers on the ways of consuming the collagen products, such as adding the collagen powder into milk tea and desserts.
There are also plans to work with healthcare professionals on article write-ups and video blogs (vlogs) to educate consumers on the multiple health benefits of collagen.
Collagen trends in China
According to Wang, liquid and powdered collagen are some of the most common formats for collagen in China.
A reason is because liquid and powder formats are more convenient, while liquid collagen is also more quickly absorbed by the body.
“Besides liquid and powder, we are also seeing the rise of new formats, such as gummies and jellies.
“These formats are still quite small in terms of their market presence, but the interest from consumers towards those formats has caught the attention from other brands, including Vital Proteins.
“Vital Proteins also has collagen peptide in the gummy format, currently sold in the US. The problem is whether the supply chain can deliver the gummy products in a good shape, which is a problem which we will need to solve first when bringing it to China.”
In addition, consumers, especially the female consumers, prefer marine collagen to bovine collagen.
Wang said this could be due to the belief that marine collagen, being sourced from the seas, are associated with a clean, pure image.
However, he pointed out that from the scientific point of view, there is no difference between the two, since collagen peptides from both sources could be further hydrolysed into amino acids for the body to absorb.