China Food

Start regimen after 00? Who’s in chocolate? We talked with five brand founders about new Chinese tonic




Contemporary young people who drink milk tea and want “ginseng water” are becoming more and more involved in a healthy life.
staying up late, socializing, irregular diet… The high-intensity pace of life makes the sub-health problems of young people more and more common. Based on the demand and desire for health, it has brought the growth of the whole health track. The penetration rate of
healthy food is also increasing year by year, from 650 billion yuan in 2015 to 800 billion yuan in 2020. China is becoming the largest healthy food consumption market in the world.
from 2012 to 2020, the proportion of functional foods in the health food market in China increased from 19.5% to 22.6%. Since 2020, functional food brands “minayo” and “buffx” have completed three rounds of financing in about a year, including Sequoia China, GGV Jiyuan capital, northern lights venture capital and other institutions.
among them, another kind of “functional food” – Chinese tonic food is quietly increasing.
from 2018, Tongrentang, a century old brand, began to launch the health coffee brand “Zhima health”, and launched a series of drinks such as medlar latte, Luohanguo American style, motherwort rose latte in the mode of “coffee + Chinese herbal medicine”. In 2020, Dong’e donkey hide gelatin began digital transformation, deepened cooperation with e-commerce platforms, created new products such as Dong’e donkey hide gelatin powder and developed new categories of donkey hide gelatin bird’s nest.
new brands are also developing their own new positions. In 2021, bird’s nest brand “xiaoxianstew” completed round C financing, and flower glue brand “guanzhan” obtained pre-B financing of more than 100 million yuan.
in the same year, another group of new players focused on a small number of ingredients such as ginseng, medlar and donkey hide gelatin, and began to enter the Chinese nourishing track.
why does everyone choose to enter the Chinese tonic track now? How do new brands think about making products? How should Chinese tonic track become a brand?
with the above questions, the sabre Institute interviewed the founders of five brands, including “neiwen”, “Tiaoli”, “Genben fundamental”, “Shan Gong Xiaoshan” and “each other”, and discussed the above questions.
Why did choose to enter the Chinese tonic track now?
if you want to understand the products of Chinese tonic track, you should first know the concept of “medicine and food homology”.
traditional Chinese medicine culture has been basically formed since the spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period, “medicine and food are of the same origin” is a concept that can not be ignored in traditional Chinese medicine culture. The book Taisu of the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic in the Tang Dynasty wrote, “fasting food is food, and patients eat medicine.” The ancients found in food and medicine that food and medicine have certain differences, but they are interlinked. Their common ground is that they can prevent disease.
in fact, ginseng, sour jujube kernel, donkey hide gelatin, wolfberry fruit, hemp kernel, jujube, ginger, Poria cocos, black sesame, etc. are all regarded as products of the same origin as medicine and food.
at present, there are two main types of players in the Chinese tonic track who use the same origin of medicine and food as ingredients:
traditional and time-honored brands: Tongrentang, Dong’e donkey hide gelatin, laojinmofang, Qilixiang and other
new tonic brands: neiwen, Tiaoli, Genben, Shan Gong Xiaoshan, each other and other
domestic players have frequently poured into the Chinese tonic track in recent years, There are three reasons: the rapid growth of market development, the dispersion of brand concentration and the change of awareness of new consumers.
the online scale of Chinese tonic industry is growing rapidly. In the past, traditional tonics were mainly concentrated in offline pharmacies or direct sales channels. Nowadays, young consumers’ demand for health care and shopping preferences have changed, so the retail channel has also undergone fundamental changes. According to the data, in 2021, tmall’s double 11 food therapy and nutritional products increased by 300% year-on-year.
at present, the brand concentration in China’s tonic market is low and the market pattern is relatively scattered. Bai Yujie, founder of
“the other side”, also told the knife art research institute that according to the data captured by the team at that time, the market share of tmall’s top 10 Chinese tonic brands in 2019 was less than 30%. Compared with the monopoly pattern formed by biscuits, chocolates and other categories with a market share of 60-80% in the top 10, Chinese tonic is a starting opportunity.
and the old brand products and playing methods are relatively traditional and single. On the one hand, traditional old consumer brands have various limitations in the taste, form and composition of products. Taking Tongrentang as an example, the traditional ginseng tablets that can be taken directly will be more difficult to adhere to; Sour jujube kernel paste, jade glue paste and other paste prescriptions in the form of whole cans are not convenient for consumers to eat at any time; The ingredients such as yellow rice wine, maltose syrup and rock sugar added by Dong’e donkey hide gelatin in donkey hide gelatin cake will also be considered not “healthy”.
on the other hand, many practitioners of old brands play a relatively traditional and single brand. Many brand stores do not even open tmall flagship stores, but are still doing Taobao stores. Open the little red book to search the word ginseng. The first thing that comes out is the advertising of products of new brands such as “neiwen” and “Tiaoli”. There are almost no advertising of old brands.
The page of xiaohongshu searching for the keyword “ginseng” shows that
mentioned ginseng related products, and “zhengguanzhuang” in South Korea is a product that many consumers will think of. In June 2021, “zhengguanzhuang” ranked first in tmall ginseng products with sales of 34.76 million yuan and sales of 95000 products. However, the sales volume of “neiwen” in the first month of its launch was nearly 5 million yuan, of which the sales volume of ginseng products was close to zhengguanzhuang, a time-honored ginseng brand in South Korea. It can be said that in the online channels, among the various brands targeting niche ingredients such as ginseng, sour jujube kernel and donkey hide gelatin, there has not been an absolute head, and new and old brands are forming a new competitive pattern. The change of consumers’ consciousness is another reason for the influx of new players.
in the past, Chinese tonic was often suspected of being IQ tax because of its “long cycle and slow effect”, and many consumers did not buy it. The epidemic situation in 2020 and the help of traditional Chinese medicine to fight the epidemic have changed many consumers’ cognition of traditional Chinese medicine. At the same time, the epidemic has made more people aware of the importance of health.
Photo source: cbndata’s insight into 2020 Chinese self-care industry
on the other hand, the post-90s grew up in China’s rapid development of science and technology. Cultural self-confidence makes them naturally have a deeper sense of trust and identity with national brands. Chinese tonic is the essence of Chinese dietary culture and a precious part of Chinese culture. The report data also shows that the “post-90s” have long become the backbone of online purchase of traditional nutritional supplements, and the “post-95s” have the fastest growth rate of online consumption of traditional nutritional supplements in 2020, gradually moving closer to the main consumption force.
as more new people represented by young people join, the market of Zizi traditional nourishing track is forced to change in the opposite direction, developing in the direction of more suitable for young people’s consumption psychology, consumption habits and consumption patterns. This also provides an opportunity for new brands to enter the market.
where is the new nourishing brand?
ginseng, donkey hide gelatin and Chinese wolfberry, which have been eaten by their parents, have long planted their minds in the hearts of many young consumers. People subconsciously think that these ingredients are good for their health, which greatly reduces the threshold for consumers to buy products for the first time. However, the long-term nourishing effect of type a food is more. Based on this premise, taste is the key factor for consumers to stick to eating. On the premise of ensuring the taste, brand
keeps the ingredients of the formula as clean as possible. Compared with traditional brands that do not refuse additives, the new brand is committed to both taste and health through new technology.
, such as “Xiaoao gum”, one of the core products of “Tiaoli”, adopts new donkey hide gelatin processing technology, so it does not add yellow rice wine and sugar, so as to clean the ingredient list; At the same time, the aroma and sweetness of raw materials such as red jujube, medlar and mulberry are used to improve the flavor of the product. The products of “the other party” are extracted under pure herbs through the patented low-temperature cold extraction technology, and the taste is comparable to the “new ointment” of coffee and milk tea, breaking the impression of “good medicine tastes bitter” of the original Chinese health care products.

many brands of products have also adopted new formulas. “Wengan ginger”, one of the main products of “Genben fundamental”, adopts compound formulas such as saffron, red clover, medlar and longan, and confirms the content of each component through laboratory tests, so as to optimize the effect. Even if you choose to add sugar related components, you also choose the 0-calorie natural sugar substitute “siraitin” extracted from plants.
“the other party” also adopts the compound formula. Taking the main product Mengdie as an example, the main formula comes from the ancient book synopsis of the golden chamber, but for the sake of effectiveness, the formula is adjusted to use sour jujube kernel, Angelica sinensis, Poria cocos, Lily and other ingredients. For the content of the core component of the brand, jujube kernel, it is also tested repeatedly in different concentrations, and finally the best 40% ratio is selected.

Compared with the relatively single products in the past,
brands have also made new forms of innovation. For example, the “ginseng chocolate” of “Shan palace Xiaoshan” takes into account the inconvenience caused by the product form and taste of ginseng and the difficulty of sticking to eating, resulting in no effect, so it is subversive to make it into the form of whole piece of freeze-dried ginseng wrapped chocolate, which is fun, delicious and convenient to eat. Tiangong fun is to choose to make adult ginseng powder, so that everyone can drink in water directly.

Another interesting point is that some brands deliberately choose forms or formulas similar to previous products for upgrading iteration. The reason for this is to make consumers more familiar with the product and reduce the cost of purchase decision-making.
for example, neiwen’s products are positioned as herbal “cream formula”, but the products look more like honey with a lot of natural nourishing ingredients. Its familiarity makes it very easy for the public to accept and buy.
“Tiaoli” also adopts this strategy. At present, the best-selling “Xiaoao gum” products are similar to traditional old-fashioned brands such as Dong’e donkey hide gelatin in basic formula composition and form. Consumers are familiar with the product form, which naturally enhances their sense of trust.

new technology, new formula and new form, this new nourishing brand, have made differentiation and innovation in different dimensions and old brands.
however, the brand founders also mentioned that it is very important to constantly iterate the product to test the feedback of consumers at the stage from 0 to 1. The most important thing to make a product is not to fall into self hi. The quality of the product ultimately depends on the purchase behavior of consumers.
how to make brand differentiation?

in the regular track, some categories, such as beauty, will win over consumers through low customer unit price, so as to drive product sales.
in the Chinese tonic track, consumers are not oriented by absolute price. For example, neiwen’s current products are divided into two price bands. Ginseng Bulao berry honey cream, Manuka brown sugar ginger honey and donkey hide gelatin red ginseng honey cream are located at 80-90 yuan. At the same time, the brand is still three products with similar layout in the price band of 37-54 yuan.

The three products corresponding to the two price bands of
have the same effect except for different packaging, slightly different ingredients and different drinking restrictions. However, according to the sales data of Taobao in February and March, the products with low price are not sold better than those with high price.
a similar situation also occurs in other brands. The average customer unit price of the “other party” is 220 yuan, which is far higher than the average customer unit price of 58 yuan for its category. It can be seen that consumers accept Chinese tonic and are willing to pay a higher premium.
this means that when consumers consume, they will pay more attention to the brand’s products, services, contents and ideas. In the early stage of development, the brand can guide consumers to buy through product power. From the perspective of long-term development, if you want to be irreplaceable in the hearts of consumers, you need to make consumers loyal to the brand through brand differentiation. In the early stage of
, there were not many marketing actions at the brand level, but they still had slightly different focus on brand strategies and playing methods according to their audience and ideas.
at the service level, the core factor to retain consumers and ensure product iteration is to do a good job in the operation of users through the private domain.
the “other party”, officially announced in early 2022, has begun to provide 1v1 services for users who have purchased on wechat. Its operator is known as the “conditioner”, who knows the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine. In addition to the conventional product Q & A, it will also answer the sub-health problems encountered by consumers.
in daily interaction, “the other party” will also understand the physical condition of consumers through questionnaires. Take the “Mengdie” product, which is mainly used to help sleep and calm the mind, as an example. If the physical condition of consumers is too complex, they will advise consumers to go to the hospital instead of buying products according to the actual situation, and even give recommendations to experts in this field.
although consumers are not unfamiliar with these ingredients and categories, they are not so clear about the complex cultural system and product mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine. When encountering some symptoms and problems, the brand continues to communicate with users with professional people, and provides more than expected services to further help users understand products and deepen their sense of trust, which also brings high repurchase rate and high recommendation rate.
and Julin, the founder of “Tiaoli”, who came from a financial background, once worked as a blogger in her spare time and accumulated a group of fans. She said that during the cold start of the brand, the first batch of traffic largely came from her fans, and in the community of Tiaoli, the suggestions and ideas of fans gave the brand a lot of inspiration and helped her complete the co creation and iteration of products.
in addition, Julin said that the imagination space of a brand is very important. She hopes to find a balance between style and being close to the people, win the love of a larger circle of people, and want to make Tiaoli a “national brand” in the future. Meanwhile, Tiaoli will go to sea this year. The first stop is to enter the Southeast Asian market through shopee. The content and concept of
brand is the core that can ultimately help make differentiation.
behind the overt pain points, the real pressure source of consumers is psychological pressure. After Chinese tonic products solve the overt problems of consumers, brands need to think about how to deeply insight into consumers’ inner pain points, and further arouse consumers’ empathy at the spiritual level through identity, cultural shaping and value binding, Endow the brand with emotional added value, so that consumers can truly recognize the brand concept and attitude from the bottom of their heart.
observe the names of these brands, “neiwen”, “Tiaoli”, “each other” and “Genben fundamental”. With its cultural meaning full of Oriental philosophy, it increases the association degree of the brand and better enables consumers to perceive the Chinese health care concept carried by the brand. Bai Yujie, founder of
“the other side”, also said that in the future, he hopes to convey the complex Oriental health culture in a new way through a complete content system and link it with contemporary young people.
“Shan Gong Xiaoshan” has jointly launched Shenqiao special tune with coffee brand “double win”, which aims to reach the white-collar class, one of their core groups, so that nourishing can also be daily and happy. As for the future plan, Cece, the founder, also considered to continue to break the circle. In the past 38 festivals, Cece has launched a joint gift box with the fragrance brand “me ft. we tranquility”. In the future, it also plans to seek the linkage of brands with the same health concept such as yoga and meditation, so as to make consumers have more associative space for the brand.
“Genben fundamentals” also took action in this 38th Festival. In this 38th Festival, “Genben fundamentals” launched the theme of “she is at ease”, starting with two health ambassadors. Meanwhile, founder Xinjie Ma invited four guests, including the founding partner of Sogal venture capital fund and the CEO of jewelry brand “Yin”, to conduct the first round table live broadcast, in order to convey the concept of healthy life of the brand.
the core tenet of Cao Peng, founder of neiwen, is to cover the crowd by sales and measure the brand by repurchase.
in October 2021, “neiwen” was launched live on Li Jiaqi. In the first month, it sold more than 5 million sales, and now its monthly sales are nearly tens of millions. Cao Peng, the founder of
“neiwen”, said that they were product driven companies. As the founders of two brands that had incubated “Smeal” and “light eater”, they tested “Smeal little yellow ginger honey liquid”, the predecessor of “Manuka brown sugar ginger honey” in Smeal’s flag ship store for nearly a year. After obtaining the purchase and re purchase feedback from the market through data, Just started to officially launch the brand of “neiwen”. Cao Peng said that to judge whether a project is good or not, the repurchase rate will be ranked first, and the best way is to test through the market and data feedback.
when talking about his views on the brand, Cao Peng, founder of neiwen, expressed his views that the real brand, core competitiveness and barriers are not his product ability or his marketing ability, but the cognition and ideas of the team, which will directly determine the direction of the brand. In the early 3-5 years of the project, the company value is greater than the brand value, and the brand value is greater than the company value five years later. They hope that in the future, the internal inquiry can be built into a new “Tongrentang”.
analyst comments
at present, the whole market is still in the blue ocean period. It is an incremental rather than a stock market. At the stage from 0 to 1, brands are more empowering each other, educating consumers together and making the track bigger.
however, whether the products derived by the brand side according to the market conditions and the pain points of consumers can meet the core needs of consumers and adhere to long-term use depends on the further verification and feedback of the consumer market. However, the audience of Chinese nourishing track is much larger than expected. The new products of
Chinese tonic track not only provide a better alternative product for consumers who will eat these Chinese tonic ingredients in the past, but also provide another new solution for all contemporary consumers seeking health.
take “Shuiguang berry” of “Genben fundamental” as an example. It focuses on antioxidant function. People who used to buy vitamin C fudge or Cranberry powder may turn to buy this product in the future. Take the “dream butterfly” of “the other party” as an example. Its main function is to calm the nerves. People who will buy melatonin, GABA sugar, sesame Ming and other products in the sleep market may come here.
and in the long run, the Chinese nourishing track actually has a good soil to be a brand. Intergenerational dividends cannot be ignored. It is said that when grandma and mother are using a brand, the younger generation will naturally enter the “potential user pool” of the brand. Although there is intergenerational rebellion, this rebellion sometimes deepens recognition. The culture of traditional Chinese medicine, which stretches to this day, has virtually increased the recognition of contemporary consumers for Chinese tonic.
in the future, if the brand wants to be irreplaceable in the hearts of consumers, it can focus on combining the long-standing Chinese health culture with the brand to create a unique Oriental health culture.
in the categories of cosmetics and aromatherapy, together with summer viewing and huaxizi with oriental culture as the core, may also become a reference for the brand. Fashion trends are always changing, and consumer groups may change their identity and values with age. More and more people’s pride and recognition of China’s culture for thousands of years is the only one.
original title: health preservation after 00? Who’s in chocolate? We talked with 5 brand founders about new Chinese tonic | track observation
Author: green; Editor: Siete; Source: knife Research Institute (ID: digipontclub), reprint has been authorized.
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