China supplements market

Interviewing entrepreneurs in China: Distribute supplements from France to China, spread the concept of health in the meantime

Distribute supplements from France to China

China Paradigms interviewed Laurent Cibot, the founder of Organic Republic and strategic advisor at OMEY, to learn from his experience in distributing supplements from France to China, and at least a little to adopt his twenty years experience in China’s supplement market.

Laurent Cibot, an entrepreneur focused on China’s supplement market

Laurent Cibot has been in the Middle Kingdom for a long time developing French nutrition in China. With 15 years’ experience in international cross-border trade of health supplements, he definitely seems to be the right person to run this business.

Laurent Cibot started his  China’s supplement market story in 2006 when he first established his own company focusing on consulting and import-export services for the health-care industry. His interest in this field was partly decided by his early academic background: he holds a master’s degree in international relations and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which has equipped Laurent with both business acumen and an international perspective. Also, during his studies, Laurent Cibot spent two years in China for participating in an exchange program. All these experiences have brought Laurent to develop business between France and China.

China's supplement market
[Source: his portrait from Google Image, “an expert in China’s supplement market”]

He also witnessed the huge transformation of China’s supplement market.  Laurent mentioned that China has faced a large expansion of sports supplement consumption after the Beijing Olympics games in 2008. The same year, he joined Laboratoire Cooper, a French OTC manufacturer. At that moment, Laurent Cibot had the feeling that China’s supplements market had a huge potential, and, since France was a leader in this industry, Laurent has founded two other companies to distribute supplements from France to China.

Organic Republic, imported French nutrition in China

Organic republic is mainly promoting a traditionally French brand named Pimlico, which was owned by Laurent Cibot’s family. Pimlico used to be a distributor of organic products, ranging from fruits, vegetables, and daily chemicals. Nowadays It has turned out to be a new China cross-border website – Organic Republic, which aims to bring more French health-care products to China.

French nutrition in China
[Source: Company information from LinkedIn and official website, “bring French nutrition in China”]

With Laurent Cibot’s previous experience in marketing, he is helping this brand to better understand the Chinese supplement market. His idea is mainly about launching this French nutrition in China because as he explained, Chinese customers are more familiar with Australian health-care products but there are seldom companies distributing supplements from France to China:

“It’s a pity because we (France) have really great brands and that’s what I wanted to do. It was great because I have been frustrated for many years because you know most of the French brands in supplements; you can’t really find any of them in China.”

China’s supplements market, presenting a booming trend

China’s supplements market is developing dramatically recently, especially with the popularity of online shopping. Two main reasons can explain the booming trend of this market: the online benefit for foreign importers and wide-spread ‘health’ concept among Chinese.

China cross-border website, regulations benefit foreign importers

When a foreign importer first comes into China’s supplements market, it is likely to go on Tmall Global and other China cross-border websites because there are no rigid certifications required to open an online store.

“China’s cross-border website is a great opportunity for any brand in France (or from other countries) because it gives you the possibility to sell your products in China without registering them in the China FDA in Beijing.”

Some foreign brands may at first be confused about such a positive policy, compared with their local marketing regulations. According to Laurent, without China cross-border websites, general registration in China will take foreign importers from 2 to 3 years before they can actually get into the Chinese market. Since China’s cross-border websites only require tax payment for business, over 2,000 RMB, they have undoubtedly provided instant entry on the China supplements market for foreign brands.

Growing health awareness among Chinese

Laurent Cibot has been distributing supplements from France to China for many years. Therefore, he is able to distinguish the growing health awareness trend among Chinese people, which was definitely a positive effect on China’s supplements market.

“Chinese people are much more interested and they are very conscious about health. They really want to improve health, and to live longer and in a good condition. So, it’s a fast-growing China’s supplements market and it is a very interesting industry to be in now.”

Laurent gave the example of probiotic products in China. He is completely confident in developing this French nutrition in China. As Chinese customers are already concerned about their health conditions, it is necessary to educate them and make them notice probiotic products in China. Laurent helped French probiotic manufacturers to supply probiotic products into China and all over the world. He learned from the success of Australian brands in China’s supplement market: local people care about health but they do not want to take medicines in daily lives. Therefore, Laurent Cibot believes that probiotic products in China will have a large potential as it combines concepts of both health benefits and natural produced.

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