Reducose®: Marketing Health Supplements in China

Creating a Brand Presence in China From Scratch

The Opportunity

China’s booming e-commerce marketplace has opened many new opportunities for the health food market. An ageing population, a preference for natural remedies and increased disposable income has already led to strong demand for health foods. Furthermore, concerns about food safety mean consumers are often willing to pay more for foreign products. Reducose®, a patented functional food ingredient made from an extract of mulberry leaves, helps turn fast sugars and other carbohydrates into slow ones. This has implications for preventing type 2 diabetes, as well as weight-loss. We helped them develop their social commerce presence in China, by creating their accounts and running events.

The Challenge

Parent company Phynova tasked us with creating their brand presence in China, as they wanted to expand from their existing B2B market to B2C sales. This also involved creating a new B2C product specifically for the Chinese market.

Reducose® Packaging Designed For The Chinese Market. Design Based On Feedback From Focus Groups.
Reducose® Packaging Designed For The Chinese Market. Design Based On Feedback From Focus Groups.

Our Approach

We began by executing a deep-dive report on consumer purchasing habits and perceptions, based on both research and focus group discussions. For this product, we held focus groups with both ‘worried well’ middle-aged, middle-class consumers, and type 2 diabetic patients. This enabled us to gather detailed data, on both consumer behaviour and health consciousness. After analysing the data, we provided feedback and actionable recommendations to Reducose®, including specific advice on packaging, pricing and positioning as a lifestyle product. This strategic audit stripped Reducose’s China offering back to basics, questioning and testing underlying assumptions, allowing us to develop a social media strategy taking in everything we learnt about Chinese consumers and how best to approach them.

The Outcome

Starting from scratch, we used our expert knowledge of Chinese consumers to develop a new B2C product and its packaging: Reducose® pills in green and white packaging, designed to reflect the colours of mulberry leaves. Each box contains two resealable pouches of pills, which look very similar to Chinese chewing gum packets - this went down well with Chinese consumers, as they felt less self-conscious taking a pill before eating. From there, we worked with Phynova to establish a social media strategy. We started by launching social media accounts on WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book, followed by opening e-commerce stores on both Little Red Book and WeChat. We manage Reducose®’s entire China presence - from beautifully designed social media posts to customer relations and sales.

Reducose® Pouches
Reducose® Pouches

Furthermore, we used our network of UK-based photographers and designers to create images of Reducose® products. These were then used on e-commerce platforms and in promotional material.

Reducose® WeChat Store
Reducose® WeChat Store

We were particularly proud of Reducose®’s launch event in China, attended by partners Liverpool Football Club. Held in Shanghai, we helped manage the entire offline B2C event. We liaised with an agency in Shanghai to manage the logistics of the event and invited 5 targeted influencers, including Steve Li (李伽贤), a nutritionist and influencer who has over 4 million followers on Weibo. The influencers covered a range of interests including fashion, sports and lifestyle, and created a range of content covering the English afternoon tea event across channels. Media coverage, including photography, was organised by a China-based PR agency we invited. The event was highly successful, thanks to the organic coverage created by the influencers and media in attendance - there were over 2 million engagements This, along with our asset creation, helped grow over 1,000 followers on social media accounts we set up.

Reducose®’s Launch Event In China, Attended By Partners Liverpool Football Club.
Reducose®’s Launch Event In China, Attended By Partners Liverpool Football Club.

Since the launch event, we've developed Reducose®’s content strategy to market it as a lifestyle product. The Phynova team came from a very scientific background and were keen to emphasise the product’s health benefits, especially for pre-diabetics. However, after the product launch, we found that the content that best engaged consumers was lifestyle-related, such as WeChat articles focussing on healthy eating, fitness, and weight loss. Based on content engagement rates, we adapted our strategy to move away from the initial USP of diabetes prevention to present Reducose® as a natural supplement to help overall fitness.

TONG co-founder Adam attending Reducose®'s Shanghai Launch Event.
TONG co-founder Adam attending Reducose®'s Shanghai Launch Event.
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