What's next for functional foods?
Published by: qhqgs Release time: 2023-09-14 10:38 Number of readings:0
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This article is the new consumption of the original, author: Qingling, reprint please contact the source。

This time, consumers are more and more willing to "take drastic drugs" on "internal use and external service".。

Once the big health market is not mature, consumers' pursuit of healthy diet is often a gust of wind, and now the "time" has arrived, the trend of "strong medicine" is destined to pharmaceutical companies will play an important role in the next food industry。



Photo credit: pexels

China's food and beverage industry has fully entered the "functional" era, and more and more cutting-edge products that add nutritional elements to the ingredient list and play the functional concept are rewriting the "genes" of traditional foods and eating their market。

Behind this is that consumers' choice of food has gradually shifted from "delicious" to "healthy".。Although it is difficult to tell which is which, in the past three years, such a logical shift has certainly occurred, and has affected the changes in the food and beverage industry。

So we can see the rise of functional food, even if the country has not yet defined its status in the law, but it is becoming the "popular" among consumers and investors.。

However, the problem is that functional food is still included in the category of ordinary food, resulting in its raw materials and added amounts to meet the national requirements for ordinary food, which also appearsThe dose is low, and the consumer's body sensation is not obviousPain point of。

On the other hand, functional food does not have the legal status of health care products, so its concept can not use words with specific effects in the publicity, which is alsoIt weakens the transmission effect of the efficacy。

At the same time, the lack of legal status allows functional foodsLower barriers to entryFrom food to daily chemicals to pharmaceutical companies, from traditional enterprises to start-ups to supplier companies, in the past three years concentrated into this emerging track。

This doomed the lack of research and development strength of the enterprise and only the concept of the addition of products will be eliminated。Based on this, Guanchao new consumption believes thatTechnology companies with an absolute position in research and development and products that can achieve the ultimate effect will swim upstream in the competitive landscape。

Among the existing players, pharmaceutical companies undoubtedly have an absolute say in scientific and technological strength, and it can even be said that when a series of start-ups are still doing their best to research and development for the beach landing, pharmaceutical companies have already stood on the shore。

I. Cross-border for more than two years

Looking at the world, it is not rare for pharmaceutical companies to cross over, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott and other international giants are starting from the medical business, Johnson & Johnson began to produce sterile surgical dressings, Abbott is from a small pharmaceutical factory transformation。

For Chinese pharmaceutical companies, cross-border is more logical, China has been "food therapy" since ancient times, in the long course of development has gradually formed a unique tonic culture, "medicine" and "food" in the Chinese tonic culture is the same root。

Whether following the development trajectory of overseas giants or following the ancient methods and prescriptions of ancestors, Chinese pharmaceutical companies are bound to take the cross-border road from "medicine" to "food"。

In fact, although functional food has only appeared in recent years, the cross-border food and drink circuit of Chinese pharmaceutical companies can be traced back to the 1990s, and the way of entering is not the same。

For example, the Sea King Group, which focuses on medicine and health, launched rice flour food for infants and young children in 1993, and later established a sub-brand Sea King baby to create nutrition products for infants and young children。

Also cut into the baby and child market is revised Pharmaceutical, its children's drug brand "Xiuxiu love" in 2009 launched infant formula milk powder products, becoming the first domestic cross-border business milk powder pharmaceutical companies。

In addition, Sunflower Pharmaceutical, Renhe Pharmaceutical, Wong Lao Ji Pharmaceutical, Yabao Pharmaceutical, China Resources Sanjiu and other well-known pharmaceutical companies have been involved in maternal and child nutrition products and children's nutrition products。

Starting from children's nutrition seems to be a good attempt, foreign milk powder giants Wyeth, Abbott were originally pharmaceutical companies, Wyeth's slogan is "with pharmaceutical experience to make milk powder", not to mention the impact of the melamine incident is fermented at that time, pharmaceutical companies do milk powder in safety can bring consumers a little psychological protection。

However, the audience of children's nutrition products is limited, in addition, the initial research and development ideas of pharmaceutical companies are biased towards health products, powder, tablet is the mainstream product form, affecting the frequency of consumption。Even milk powder, will be subject to milk source conditions, milk companies formula research and development strength is not as good as pharmaceutical companies, but the control of raw materials is far more than the latter。

In contrast, covering the whole age segment of food and beverage are trillion market scale, if the use of medical concepts to produce ordinary food, both to meet the public's needs for health and nutrition, and do not have to force them to eat powder, tablets for a long time, but also to bring premium space to the brand。

 When cross-boundary food and drink becomes the right choice, all that remains is to wait for enterprises to join the trend。于是,Whether it is Donge Ejiao, Tonren Tang, Jiuzhitang, or the new pharmaceutical Ruijiangzhong Pharmaceutical, Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, and Revised Pharmaceutical that were established after the founding of the People's Republic of China, they have been involved in the food and beverage track in the past 20 years。

From the perspective of product form, the food made by pharmaceutical companies is mainly divided into two kinds。One is the one mentioned aboveHealth foodBetween drugs and food, for example, Chuyuan, a brand of Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical, has launched a series of complex peptide nutrition solution, amino acid oral solution and protein powder series;Another example is the childhood memories of countless people - calcium tablets in the lid, which is the masterpiece of Harbin Pharmaceutical Group。

The other isCommon foodIn terms of formula, it may not be as difficult as the research and development of health care products, but the product form should be as close to the food as possible, and it also needs to take into account delicious and healthy, which means that the production process is more difficult than health care products。


Health food vs ordinary food morphological division

Photo source: public number @Guanchao New consumption

However, health care products and ordinary food are not at the same level in terms of volume, so although the difficulty is quite high, it still failed to block the determination of pharmaceutical companies to rewrite the "gene" of ordinary food。

For example, the revised pharmaceutical industry in 2011 to create a "Xiuzhen tea Garden" brand, launched "Xiuzi tea", "Xiuchang tea", "jujube brown sugar warm ginger tea", "longan wolfberry warm ginger tea" and other functional tea products, and then launched a fresh soup fans, Pugong grass throat lozenges and other new product lines。

Another example is Guizhou Bailing, which spent 3.The 9.5 billion yuan construction of collagen juice drinks (containing Chinese herbal herbal functional drinks) project "Love to", and advertised that its products contain Alaska cod skin collagen。In the same year, Guizhou Bailing invited Zhang Ziyi to represent its "Love to Talk"。

Looking at these products, several characteristics can be found:


Product characteristics of cross-border food and beverage track of pharmaceutical companies

Photo source: public number @Guanchao New consumption

1The product form needs to choose large categories to meet the characteristics of high frequency and rigid demand。

For example, Wong Lao Kat, Jing Xiu Tang, Tong Ren Tang have launched herbal tea drinks, which meet the drinking needs of Chinese people;For example, the monkey mushroom cookies that Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical has invested in have chosen this segment of cookies, and another product, Misi, is a direct bet on the breakfast market。

2Product formulations often focus on the concept of "Chinese health" and strengthen the "sense of science and technology"。

For example, Xiu Chen ancient prescription throat lozenges, known as the selection of pugong grass, green fruit, fat sea, dark plum, orange peel, orange, citron, licorice eight herbs of the same origin, combined with modern extraction technology, the effective ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine extracted, is a functional throat lozenges between food and drugs。

Another example is ejiao products, made of Chinese herbal medicine donkey hide ejiao, which has the effects of nourishing Yin and blood, moistening dryness and relieving cough, beauty and beauty, etc. Many pharmaceutical companies, including Dong-e-Ejiao, Tongentang, Foci Pharmaceutical, Taiji Group, have launched ejiao series products, such as ejiao cake, Ejiao film, Ejiao date and so on。

3Strengthen the publicity of the efficacy of the product, and even play the ball。

Pharmaceutical companies often strengthen the promotion of product features, and the areas of efficacy are different。For example, the rice thin of the monkey mushroom in the river is heavy in improving the stomach, so it is claimed that the product is prepared with the ancient formula for nourishing the stomach;For example, Wang Lao Ji herbal tea originated in Lingnan, its effect is to clear heat and detoxify, aiming at the local hot and humid climate problem。


Donga ejiao peach blossom only food size but claimed health products

Photo source: New Express

In the era when regulations and supervision are not perfect, it is not rare to exaggerate the efficacy or even play a marginal ball。For example, Guizhou Bailing's Aituo, as a common food that has not obtained the "blue hat" certification, has been suspected of exaggerating the efficacy of skin treatment;Another example is the peach blossom of Dong-e-Ejiao, which was also positioned as "beauty and health food" in its early publicity.。

Two, cross-border success and failure

When we compare the past to the present, we find,Today's functional food is almost following the path of cross-border food and drink of pharmaceutical companies in the past, improving the intestine, losing weight, and maintaining beauty, and these popular areas have been played by pharmaceutical companies in the past。

Among them, many star brands were born, such as Jiangzhong monkey Mushroom。

2010Around the year, Jiangzhong Group's pharmaceutical health care products business began to shrink, as the founder of Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical, Zhong Hongguang turned to the "food therapy" field。

Zhong Hongguang's heart is not unreasonable, in those years,The price of OTC drugs (non-prescription drugs) in China is under the unified supervision of the National Development and Reform Commission and other departments.Especially before 2015, OTC drugs implemented the maximum retail price system, resulting in OTC drugs unable to rise with the price of raw materials, causing no small loss to pharmaceutical companies。

According to the relevant data of Gelong Hui, the price of prince ginseng, one of the raw materials of Jiangzhong Jianstomach digestion tablets, has risen from 20 yuan /kg to 400 yuan /kg between 2010 and 2011, resulting in the gross profit margin of patent medicine directly from 77% to 43%。From 2014 to 2016, Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical's pharmaceutical industry revenue fell from nearly 2 billion yuan to 15 percent.56亿元。


2014-2016Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical industry revenue

Photo source: public number @Guanchao New consumption

In addition to price controls, the difficulty for pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative drugs has also pushed them into the food and drink circuit。According to industry insiders, a new drug from the beginning of research and development to approved listing, must go through in vitro, preclinical animals, clinical I, II, III and a series of studies, 10 to 15 years is a normal time, spend at least $1 billion, profit is far away。

Zhong Hongguang has compared drugs and "diet" products:"Wong Lao Kat made nearly 30 billion, six walnuts sold 15 billion, Red Bull sold close to 30 billion.....There's no drug that can do 30 billion?”

2014Jiangzhong Food Therapy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jiangzhong, launched Jiangzhong Monkey Gu cookie, becoming the first cookie on the market under the banner of "stomach", and invited Xu Jinglei to shoot advertisements as endorsements。

With the blessing of the star's halo, Jiangzhong Monkey Aunt cookies delivered 800 million sales in the first year。You know, Jiangzhong stomach digestion tablets took 5 years to grow from 1.700 million sold to 800 million, and it took four years for the lactic acid bacteria tablets in the river to break through 200 million yuan。

At that time, China's biscuit market was in a downward cycle, data show that from 2007 to 2011, the growth rate of the domestic biscuit food industry market size remained above 20%, and from 2011 to 2016, the compound annual growth rate of the sales volume of China's biscuit market has declined to 4.6%。

At the same time, from the end of 2014 to June 2016, or 219 cookie manufacturers have withdrawn from the industry。Even Oreo, the No. 1 in the market, saw its market share rise from 9.2 percent fell to 6 percent in 2015。

At this time, Jiangzhong Monkey Gu dug out the blue Ocean category from the original Red Sea circuit with the concept of functional cookies, and quickly became the dark horse in the cookie market, and the unique concept of "nourishing the stomach" also made it the strongest brand in the gift attribute of the cookie category。

Wu Bofan, secretary of the board of Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical, said, "If we continue to follow the current sales situation, it can be considered to inject monkey Gu cookies into listed companies.。”

However, the tree was very popular, and soon there were professional fake people who sued Jiangzhong Monkey Gu for non-health products but played the banner of "stomach", suspected of false propaganda, although the lawsuit eventually won in Jiangzhong as the result, but it took 3 years, and seriously injured Jiangzhong。

On the other hand, since September 2013 when it was listed, Jiangzhong Monkey Gu dried cake in response to the impact of various imitation products, it has continuously launched litigation on patent rights, Tianye check shows that so far, Jiangxi Jiangzhong Food therapy Technology Company has involved 502 disputes over trademark rights。


Jiangxi Jiangzhong Food therapy Technology Company involved 502 disputes over trademark rights

Photo credit: Tianeye Check

"Jiangxi Jiangzhong Dietary Therapy Technology Co., Ltd. capital increase Announcement" shows thatFrom 2014 to 2017, the operating income of Jiangzhong Food therapy increased from 6.500 million yuan fell to 1.300 million yuan, 2015 to 2017 three consecutive years of losses。

Although in 2016 and 2020, Jiangzhong launched new products such as Monkey Gu Rice and kohiko Rice drink, and also mentioned that rice dilute products should be built into hundreds of billions of single products, but it has never been able to repeat the glory of Monkey Gu cookies。

But in any case, the monkey Gu series in the river is a star case of cross-border food and drink of pharmaceutical companies, in contrast, more cross-border pharmaceutical companies have stopped abruptly without even setting off a splash。

For example, Guizhou Bailing's Aito, which claims an investment of nearly 400 million yuan and an annual production capacity of 200 million bottles of collagen juice drinks, ended in a hurry in less than 2 years, and Guizhou Bailing's sales expenses in 2012 were as high as 3.5.4 billion yuan, the second year beverage and oral liquid revenue was only 2.69 million yuan。

The advantages of pharmaceutical companies entering the food and beverage circuit are:

其一,Compared with start-ups, the financial advantages and brand assets of pharmaceutical companies have been formedThe cross-border belongs to the extension of the border, rather than the gamble of all one's life, to put it bluntly, with the capital into the group, not afraid to burn money。

其二,The difficulty of drug research and development and strict quality inspection system are much higher than ordinary foodThis means that the food developed and produced by pharmaceutical companies is more secure in safety, at least in the brand mind can add a layer of filter。

Third, pharmaceutical companies often do food based on the original capacity to extend, which meansThe products they make are often more health attributes, pay more attention to medical nutrition in the formula, and essentially conform to the trend of consumption upgrading。

However, there are exceptions, such as Tai Chi Group Chongqing Guoguang Green Food Co., LTD., its products involved in mustard, sunflower oil, beef sauce, soy sauce vinegar and other condiments series, but the official website did not mention any concept related to medicine or health, its cross-border original intention may be related to it and Fuling mustard is Fuling。

But their disadvantages are just as obvious:Drug companies have little experience in addressing C-end consumer demand。

Pharmaceutical companies use hospitals as sales channels, and their users are patients, but it is doctors who decide whether patients use them. Therefore, drugs need TO consider the needs of hospitals and doctors, while OTC products face the demands of pharmacies and shop assistants, which is essentially the business logic of TO B。Food needs TO face the C-end consumers, which belongs to the business logic of C。

The transformation of business logic means that from products, to channels, to marketing, supply chain, the business ideas of pharmaceutical companies need to be adjusted in all aspects。

For example, how to balance the "delicious" and "efficacy" of food, when the two conflict, who should take priority;For example, food is mainly e-commerce and offline retail channels, while pharmaceutical companies are more familiar with such channels as hospitals and pharmacies, and know little about the former。

Taking the revised pharmaceutical industry as an example, its launch of "Xiu Xiu love" baby powder in the channel of play is similar to its main brand "Starshu", using the model of "advertising + ground activities + sales rebates"。

The dairy enterprise's playing method is more complex and more refined, such as flying Crane once mentioned in the 2021 annual report that the total income of dairy products is 85.5% from the national distribution network of more than 2,000 offline customers, including mother love seminars, carnivals and road shows, "face-to-face seminars" are the company's main marketing strategy, which are unimaginable and reach the pharmaceutical companies。

In the final analysis, drugs are rigid demand, and health products, functional foods are selectively purchased products, consumer demand is created by enterprises to a certain extent, and when it comes to the understanding of consumer demand, pharmaceutical companies are far less than the old guns in the field of FMCG。

3. A Rock from another Mountain

Looking at the world, there are not a few successful cross-border cases of pharmaceutical companies, which is worth learning from Japanese companies, after all, the consumption environment of the two countries has a high degree of similarity, only from the surface, it seems that there is only a time difference distance。

Otsuka Pharmaceutical is one of the earliest cases of traditional pharmaceutical companies entering the FMCG industry across the border, and has been regarded as a classic in the pharmaceutical circle。

Like Abbott, Otsuka Pharma started out as a pharmaceutical company, and in 1921, Otsuka founder Takesaburo Otsuka made magnesium carbonate from salt farm residue and marketed it。

At first, the processing profits of raw materials were meager, until the "World War II", the world's major pharmaceutical companies devoted themselves to the research and development of antibiotics, and Otsuka Pharmaceutical was the opposite way, entering the lower threshold but weaker competition in the field of large infusion, and became the leader in the field of large infusion in the following hundreds of years。

After gaining a foothold in the pharmaceutical field, Otsuka Pharmaceutical began to touch the FMCG field, in 1965, Otsuka Pharmaceutical launched Olomih C, which has maintained the record of the first cool beverage sales in Japanese supermarkets for six consecutive years。

However, the most familiar Chinese consumers, but also have to be Baomining power。


Bao mine power water special

Photo source: Jingdong @Baokuang Lishuite flagship store

1973On a business trip to Mexico, Otsuka Pharmaceutical's then-head Rokuro Soba found that the local doctor picked up a bottle of saline and drank it all at once during the break.The embryonic form of a functional drink that can be drunk and supplemented with nutrition sputtered in the heart of Bomo Rokuro。

After years of research and development, before and after the modulation of thousands of prototypes, in 1980, Otsuka Pharmaceutical launched the Baogonli electrolyte water, which has become the only choice for many young people to supplement water after sports fitness or fever and cold。

The success of Baokerli in Japan is inseparable from Otsuka Pharmaceutical's deep cultivation of the C-end channel for many years。Japanese medicines and health products can be sold not only in hospitals and pharmacies, but also in retail channels such as small shops, grocery stores, and food stores。

Otsuka Pharmaceutical seized the channel opportunity, at the peak of Otsuka pharmaceutical products into Japan's 40,000 retail pharmacies, 1.6 million food stores, and even bars, clubs have become their target channels, after all, frequent visitors here both need to supplement nutrition, and do not want to take medicine directly。

In terms of publicity strategy, Otsuka Pharmaceutical is adept at the use of TV advertisements and stars, boldly using funny stars, changing to the national route, and being accepted by consumers while sales continue to rise。

2002New Baomineri entered China, but electrolyte water has always been a niche category in the Chinese beverage market for a long time, until the concentrated outbreak of the epidemic at the end of 2022, so that Baomineri, which has been silent for 20 years, has the opportunity to be discovered.Prospective Industry Research Institute data show that in 2022, Baomineri in China's electrolyte beverage market accounted for more than 20%, second only to the vitality of the forest's aliens。

There are also many successful cross-border cases in China, such as Wong Lao Kat。

Unlike the half-way home of Baojianli, in the hot and humid climate of Lingnan, Wang Lao Ji's herbal tea has been inherited for nearly 200 years, and belongs to the gene of "great health"。

Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is a subsidiary of Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical Group Co., LTD., a subsidiary of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Group,According to Baiyun Mountain 2022 annual report information,At present, it has four parts: Great Southern medicine, great health, great business and great medical,Among them, the big health sector is the one with the highest revenue contribution among the four businesses,The main force in this sector is Wong Lo Kat herbal tea。


Baiyun Mountain 2022 main business sub-industry profit statement

Photo source: Baiyunshan 2022 Annual Report

Wong Lao Kat's successful experience is similar to Bao's, namely,"Super single product + advertising marketing + channel deep cultivation": First of all, Wang Laoji is a time-honored brand, making herbal tea for more than 200 years, and the product force is needless to say;Secondly, through the "fear of fire, drink Wanglaoji" advertising clear brand positioning;Finally, multi-level distribution is carried out through the three-level sales model to consolidate the coverage ability of the product。

Another example, such as Yunnan Baiyao toothpaste, although Yunnan Baiyao toothpaste is a daily chemical, but its cross-border experience is still meaningful。

The key to its success is to target blue Ocean opportunities from Red Sea markets:At that time, traditional toothpaste has entered the stage of homogenization competition, but the pain points of consumers such as oral ulcers, swollen gums and bleeding have not been explored by toothpaste companies, and consumers themselves often turn to drugs or health products to solve such problems。

At this point, Yunnan Baiyao jumps out of the traditional competitive relationship, the main gingival hemostasis effect, it should be pointed out that Yunnan Baiyao itself is good at doing the pain of swelling, promoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis external medicine, so its concept of hemostasis has long been deeply rooted in people's hearts, and this brand effect can naturally migrate to toothpaste。

The market sales of Yunnan Baiyao toothpaste reached 300 million in 2006, and the sales reached 11 million in 2011.600 million, a nearly four-fold increase in five years。In 2022, Yunnan Baiyao's share in the toothpaste market reached 25%, ranking first, and the revenue of the health products division with toothpaste as the business core exceeded 6 billion yuan in 2022。

Aside from the usual channels and marketing methods involved in management, we believe that the success of pharmaceutical companies across the border also needs to do the following:

First of all, cross-border entry is best combined with the parent brand's own positioning:

For example, Foci Pharmaceutical has launched a Ganmai health beverage brand "Xiao Assistant", its effect is to promote digestion, but this and Foci Pharmaceutical's main products concentrated Angelica pill, Liuwei Dihuang pill in the effect of weak correlation。

Another example is Mayinglong eight treasures eye cream, although Mayinglong was originally applied to eye care products, but for a long time in the hearts of consumers has already been marked with hemorrhoid cream, from hemorrhoid cream to eye cream, to complete the cognitive transformation of consumers is not easy。

In contrast, Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical's main single product stomach digestion tablet is more in line with the subsequent launch of monkey mushroom biscuits, rice and other products。

Second, the timing of entry is equally important。

Whether it is Jiangzhong Pharmaceutical pushing monkey mushroom cookies, or Yunnan Baiyao making toothpaste, it is to create a new category from the original homogenization competition, and gamble on the trend of consumption upgrading, in order to become an epoch-making super single product。

In contrast, after Guizhou Bailing launched the "Love to" collagen drink in 2011, the collagen market immediately ushered in a cold winter, and a number of companies were exposed to false publicity and even illegal additions, one after another, damaging consumers' desire to buy。

In addition, Foci Pharmaceutical has also launched a series of ejiao health food, but the ejiao market is not short of players, in addition to the traditional players such as Dong-Ejiao, Taiji Group, Hongjitang, Tongrentang have launched ejiao products, Foci Pharmaceutical cross-border advantages are not outstanding。

In the final analysis, the market gives the "right time and place" and the "people" of the management team are indispensable。

Iv. Conclusion

Past successes and failures should not be the basis for debating whether it is worthwhile to cross over today, after all, consumers 10 years ago and consumers today are two different groups of people。

Whether it is the beauty track's emphasis on effective skin care and ingredient skin care, or the value of functional foods in the food field, or even the pet food track has begun to appear the rise of the "component party" force。

These signs all highlight that this consumer is more and more willing to "under fierce medicine" in the "internal use and external service".。

Reese Consulting "2023 China snack Beverage Category Research Report" pointed out that the consumption characteristics of generation Z are: stronger health awareness, favor healthier and cleaner raw materials, ingredients, ingredients, and even have a higher interest in trying effective ingredients。

Simple functional satisfaction has not solved their anxiety about health, coffee with wolfberry, beverage with ginseng "entry-level health" will become a thing of the past, and now more and more young people begin to take the initiative to eat vitamins and calcium tablets。

According to the white paper of "Food Nourishing - Health Food Consumption Trend", 48% of people are willing to try additional nutritional supplements such as health food, and the factors such as nutritional composition (52%), effective ingredients (50%), organic/green/no addition of ingredients (44%) are the most concerned by consumers。

Once the big health market is not mature, consumers' pursuit of healthy diet is often a gust of wind, and now the "time" has arrived, the trend of "strong medicine" is destined to pharmaceutical companies will play an important role in the next food industry。

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