AI, chat bots and e-commerce taking APAC's nutrition industry to the next level

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Technology presents a host of opportunities for APAC supplement firms. ©iStock
Technology presents a host of opportunities for APAC supplement firms. ©iStock
Technological advances are having a big impact on the APAC supplement and functional food industry, with the most innovative firms enjoying "a major boon” as more consumers go online for advice and to make purchases.

According to Mintel’s APAC trends manager Delon Wang, the importance of planning for the future has seen many healthy consumers seeking ways to delay and prevent illness — a development that bodes well for supplement firms.

Wang said, “As consumers in the region are becoming time-strapped and engaged with the rapid pace of daily life, more are choosing preventative health solutions as opposed to waiting for problems to occur.”

He added that increased consumer awareness, due largely to the ease of Internet access, has made it easier to achieve this.

Tech it to the next level

“For consumers, trust issues are propelling many to carry out their own research via mobile sites and apps. Brands can look at offering such information to them in a number of ways, such as QR code-scanning on packaging to understand nutritional value and health benefits, or mobile apps that carry a database of ingredients and supplements.”

There is also potential for a variety of expert consultation channels. AI and chat bots can provide consumers with crucial information anytime and anywhere, allowing nutritional experts to influence their decisions.

Doctors and nutritionists can educate consumers via chat channels and live-streaming, and health food firms can increase overall consumer engagement by offering evidence and real-time expert advice, he said.

Healthy convenience

The hectic yet sedentary lifestyles of many consumers has made convenient, easy solutions for nutritional intake a priority in APAC.

“In Indonesia, for instance, we’ve seen the launch of Gogobli, a new online delivery marketplace for traditional Chinese and Indonesian herbal products.

“Gogobli claims to connect customers to retailers and producers of products including herbal medicine, vitamins, supplements, and cosmetics. Users who purchase via the platform will have their products delivered to them by their nearest retailer.”

Wang also said pharmacies in India had begun to incorporate the Paytm digital wallet to facilitate quicker, more convenient payment for their goods. Customers can use the Paytm mobile phone app to immediately transfer payment to participating pharmacies’ Paytm wallets.

In Malaysia, where diabetes is an area of concern, the Foodster Diabetic Meal Plan was launched earlier this year.

A subscription service that delivers meals catered to diabetics’ health needs, it includes information on diabetes in its food packages. Customers can choose from five different lunchbox menus on a weekly or monthly subscription.

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