The company saw a 35% month-on-month growth for Nice Dream – a functional beverage to improve sleep quality and insomnia – in the domestic market after it was awarded number one in Korea Satisfaction Consumer Index.
The firm first introduced the relaxation drink in Thailand two years ago and went into the South Korean market via e-commerce in Q3 last year – bringing in sales of KRW$2m (US$1,693) in only 10 minutes after its launch on local e-commerce site Wadiz.
The decision to go into the South Korean market proved to be a right move, as recognition overseas has sped up market growth in Thailand, CEO Suwajpong Asawathippaibul told NutraIngredients-Asia.
He said that since the product had gained the certificate of No. 1 in Korea Satisfaction Consumer Index in January this year, sales in Thailand has been climbing steadily.
Each bottle is priced at THB$59 (USD$1.90), or THB$229 (USD$7.40) for a pack of four.
“Functional drinks are considered a new category in Thailand and consumers are not familiar with relaxation drinks, meaning they may find new products less credible.
“However, Thai consumers see products on sale in Japan and South Korea these markets as being more credible. That is why I choose to export to South Korea, ,” he said.
The firm aims to expand the number of Thai drugstores that it is working with from 500 to 1,500 this year on the back of initial market success
It also sells on various online platforms and Japanese-owned retailer MaxValu, targeting three specific groups of consumers: office workers, the elderly, and airline cabin crew.
As for South Korea, it will enter the brick-and-mortar retail, starting with 20 e-mart supermarket branches from August.
“The South Korean consumer portfolio is quite similar to that of Thailand, just that there are more teenage consumers. In South Korea, we are seeing about 55% of Gen Y and 35% of Gen X consumers,” he said.
Made with 15 fruits and herbal ingredients, each bottle contains 200mg of the amino acid L-Theanine – the active ingredient for improving sleep.
Other ingredients include acai berry, ginger, cranberry, apple, grape, prune, and green tea.
The recommended dosage is a bottle (250ml) per day and two bottles for individuals with chronic insomnia.
Asawathippaibul said that the product, made from natural ingredients and free from preservatives, offered a more viable alternative to sleeping pills.
He added that in a product trial conducted with pharmacies, the firm found that 75% of the users said they were “happy” with the results after consuming four bottles of the product.
With the newfound breakthrough in the domestic market, the firm now hopes to patent its ingredients.
It has been working with The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) on a new blend of ingredients – also for a functional relaxation drink.
“Since our launch, many firms are starting to use L-Theanine to make relaxation drinks. To move to the next stage, we need to come out with a new ingredient and patent it,” he said.
He revealed that the new product, expected to launch in Thailand in Q4 this year, might take on a different dosage form, such as a powder, capsule or shot format.
“We are looking at frequent travellers and the cabin crew, consumers who are unable to bring beverage with them. We are doing a consumer research to find out the most preferred dosage formats. The findings will be out this month,” he said.
Besides Thailand and South Korea, the firm has already signed a MoU with a China distributor and is currently awaiting purchase order.
It also intends to expand into other matured markets, with the top priority going to Japan.
Other markets of interest include the US and Hong Kong, Asawathippaibul said.