SINGAPORE: The ongoing urbanisation of Asia, combined with higher disposable incomes and heightened consumer interest in health products is boosting sales in the category, according to new research.

A report from the Asian Institute of Consumer Insight has revealed that while sales of probiotics in particular are set to soar across Asia-Pacific, international brands must be aware of the different food cultures in Asian markets which could impact the customer purchase journey.

"Many dietary supplements imported into Asia from the US and Australia are in tablet form and stored in capped bottles, while some are sold as capsules to be mixed into beverages," notes Cyndy Au, a Fellow of the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight, in an exclusive article for Warc.

"While these products may be convenient, they may not be market drivers for the purchase and consumption of probiotics in Asia." (For more, read Warc's exclusive article: Heritage, innovation and growth: marketing probiotics in Asia.)

"Most Asians still perceive swallowing tablets to be associated with treatment for sickness rather than for the maintenance of good health," says Au.

However, the most important driver in most Asian countries is likely to be affordability, particularly in emerging markets. Consumers may also be driven to purchase by marketing strategies such as influencer campaigns, or the use of technology such as apps or websites.

Discerning Asian consumers are also likely to to look closer into the probiotics' specific functional health claims during purchase.

"In Asia, value for money is a way of life for most consumers and more is always perceived or accepted to be better," observes Au. "This is evident in supermarket shelves with packaged foods and beverage featuring food labels that are filled with multiple added ingredients."

Ultimately, "Asian consumers will buy new innovative products if they have a reason to believe that the product is safe, tasty, nutritious and affordable".

Data sourced from WARC