China debut: Bayer’s maternal health brand Elevit diversifies into infant nutrition

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Elevit has debuted its infant nutrition supplements in China, namely Elevit Vitamin D soft capsules (left) and Elevit Calcium Zinc Vitamin D soft capsules. ©Bayer
Elevit has debuted its infant nutrition supplements in China, namely Elevit Vitamin D soft capsules (left) and Elevit Calcium Zinc Vitamin D soft capsules. ©Bayer

Related tags Bayer Elevit Infant nutrition

Bayer’s maternal nutrition supplement brand, Elevit, has made its debut in the infant nutrition space with new products launched in China last month. Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Bayer Consumer Health China has also outlined the new product pipeline that it has planned for its infant nutrition portfolio, including the launch of DHA and probiotics next year.

A brand under Bayer’s Consumer Health range, Elevit is known for its pre-conception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding supplements.

Asked the reason for incorporating infant nutrition into Elevit, Jessie Gu, Head of Nutrition, Bayer Consumer Health China, told us that this was in line with the brand’s proposition.

“The brand purpose of Elevit is to give every baby the best start. Introducing an infant nutrition portfolio fits into this proposition and will help us better achieve and realise our brand purpose.

“Moreover, we already have a strong user base of two million consumers purchasing our prenatal nutrition products each year. Consumers already trust Elevit and there is a desire to use Elevit’s products,”​ Gu said.

Elevit’s infant nutrition product innovation is based on the understanding of how the first 1000 days of life is a crucial period for a child’s growth.

The first 1000 days is counted from the beginning of pregnancy to the second birthday of the child.

For its first ever infant nutrition products, Elevit is focusing on the importance of bone health.

Elevit infant line

Launched in March via pharmacy retail, the products are 1) Elevit Vitamin D soft capsules and 2) Elevit Calcium Zinc Vitamin D soft capsules.

Vitamin D is a common ingredient in the two new products as it benefits bone health by supporting calcium absorption.

Each Elevit Vitamin D soft capsules contains 200 IU of vitamin D.

As for Elevit Calcium Zinc Vitamin D soft capsules, each capsule contains 100 IU of vitamin D, 100mg of calcium citrate for bone development, and 1mg of zinc to stimulate the child’s appetite.

For this product, calcium citrate was used as it could improve the dissolution and absorption of calcium as compared to calcium carbonate, Gu explained.

To help the infants and toddlers consume the supplements, it is suggested to mix the soft capsule – which has a liquid filling – with complementary foods or infant formula. 

The products were made into soft capsules as this dosage format has the highest acceptance rate amongst Chinese parents, said Daisy Ding, Category Lead of First 1000 Days Nutrition.

“Based on our consumer research, soft capsule has the best acceptance rate amongst the consumers​. Soft capsules have a stronger product stability than liquid products and are also more convenient for storage,” ​she said.

Having completed the market research, Gu said that the local China R&D team has spent about 17 to 20 months developing the new products from scratch.

The two products also do not contain sugar, artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives.

Following the launch of these two products, Gu revealed that Elevit planned to introduce two other SKUs in the beginning of next year – a DHA soft gel and a probiotic powder product.

Chinese parents’ top concerns

Aside from bone health, the other two important concerns to Chinese parents were their babies’ gut health and cognitive development, Gu said. This is also why the company will be launching probiotic and DHA products for infant health next year. 

In the case of bone health, she said Chinese parents viewed then as one of the “key indicators of growth”.

Ding added that bone health was on top of mind for Chinese parents also because their kids’ height and weight were routinely assessed during health checkups.

“Our consumer study findings show that there is a strong desire amongst parents to give their kids the best in life. However, parents do not know how to choose the supplements, as there are too many products out there in the market.

“Also, there are feedback on how some of the existing products lack efficacy and convenience,”​ Gu said.  

Ingredients wise, it was found that the Chinese parents were most familiar with calcium, vitamin D, and DHA when it comes to infant nutrition, said Ding.

Retail strategies

The two new products, which are ‘blue-hat’ certified, are currently sold in large pharmacy chains across China.

These pharmacies include Nepstar Drugstore, Guoda Drugstore, Gaoji Pharmaceuticals Group, Dashenlin Pharmaceuticals Group, SYPM Drugstore, and LBX Pharmacy.

Bayer aims to introduce its infant nutrition supplements into 15,000 pharmacies across the tier 1 and 2 cities in China by March next year.

Currently, the products are not yet available for sale in the e-commerce platforms.

“If we compare the online and offline sales channels, the offline channel is actually bigger than the online one and there are more users in the offline than the online space,” ​said Gu, on the reason for focusing on offline retail.

Nonetheless, she said that e-commerce was important and there were plans to introduce the products online after they were rolled out in offline retail.

The products are also not yet available for sale in the mother-and-baby stores, but there is a plan to enter this particular sale channel in the next two to three years.

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