No competition: Under tapped SEA oral care segment holds ‘most potential’, says NZ’s ukiwi

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

ukiwi is setting its sights on South East Asia for its natural toothpaste. [ukiwi]
ukiwi is setting its sights on South East Asia for its natural toothpaste. [ukiwi]

Related tags Toothpaste Oral care South east asia New zealand

New Zealand-based oral care brand ukiwi is setting its sights on South East Asia, which it believes holds the most untapped potential for ‘new and innovative’ players.

In 2020, parent company NZ Skincare Company told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that it was ramping up ukiwi’s expansion in Asia, with a focus on Japan.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the company managed to launch in Japan through LOFT and Tokyu Hands last year and has been garnering a lot of attention from consumers

“There are not many new or innovative brands and products in the market like us. With the big brands, they also don’t launch new products often, so when the consumer sees something new, they will immediately want to try it,” ​said Emily Yin, international business director, NZ Skincare Company.

The interest in natural products is also causing consumers to gravitate to its products which feature natural ingredients like propolis to replace conventional synthetic ingredients the company claims are milder yet effective.

Aside from Japan, ukiwi is also available in Korea, China and Malaysia.

This year, the firm is turning its attentions towards SEA, where it hopes to tap into the growing economy and increasing buying power among consumers, especially younger consumers.

“Our brand draws in the young consumers – 18 to 24-year-olds – with products like our macaron toothpaste. This generation needs something new and with good design to take photos with,”​ said Yin.

Yin highlighted that like Japan, the SEA market lacks options in the oral care segment and consumers are growing increasing bored of the same few brands on the market.

“In China, the competition is very strong with many players on the market. We think Korea is following this trend but in SEA not so much, which is why we view this market as the one with most potential.”

Watsons debut

The firm has inked a deal to health and beauty retailer Watsons to expand its presence into Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines while increasing its footprint in Malaysia.

It hopes to leverage on Watsons’ extensive retail footprint and established online platform – an important factor with the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Yin said.

Additionally, a partnership with Watsons may also help the brand enter new markets such as Europe in the future.

“We are finalising product registration for the European market. Once it’s done, we will think about entering the market because with COVID-19, the situation does not look very optimistic at the moment,” ​said Yin.

Moving forward, the company plans to focus on strengthening its retail footprint in SEA and raise brand awareness through marketing campaigns and events.

Yin added: “Our goal for 2021 is to maintain the business. We’ve had a lot of success in China and we want to continue growing the brand and the brand awareness. In Japan and Korea, we hope to expand into more retail chains.”

Aside from ukiwi, the company also owns a skin care brand, Geoskincare. Last year, its business grew rapidly in China, helping to triple the company’s sales overall.

The success of Geoskincare in China is pushing the company to think expanding the brand further in APAC.

“We are talking with retailers like Watsons, Guardian and Sephora to expand the business in APAC before going global.”

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