In Japan we founded a retail focused subsidiary in 2006 called “Natureal” (now AstaReal), and began selling the dietary supplement “Astavita” made with a formula that boosts the effectiveness of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has many applications, but we focused especially on sports performance and began promoting our product heavily. In order to communicate the advantages of our products to consumers in an easy to understand way, we established a sponsored track club, the “Natureal Athletes Club,” that went on to be legitimately competitive, sending two representatives in women’s track to the Beijing Olympics for Japan, and winning four consecutive national championships from 2007 to 2010. Perhaps as a direct result, we successfully expanded our sales along with the market. That said, we at AstaReal have prided ourselves on expertise in technology and research, our successes in the retail space were not so easily won. Striking a balance between advertising costs and resultant profits proved difficult, and in 2010 we were forced to contract our retail business, and disbanded the track club in 2011. However, as the leading astaxanthin company, our stance on the importance of delivering our astaxanthin products directly to early adopting users who demand the cutting edge functional nutrition products has not changed. From 2014 on, we have distanced ourselves from mass marketing techniques, shifting our retail focus to direct communication with advanced users, and rapidly expanding with a focus on e-commerce.
So, what can be done to make further use of astaxanthin’s inherent possibilities in terms of “prevention?” We are used to hearing the word “prevention” but its concepts and methods are not yet widely known or firmly established. For an unfamiliar-sounding product like astaxanthin, the hurdles are even higher. We think the key will be getting health management and healthcare experts like doctors and other healthcare providers to understand and use astaxanthin. In 2008, we began selling a dietary supplement designed for use by healthcare professionals called “AstaReal ACT.” Our members from AstaReal visit each clinic one by one, introducing them to astaxanthin and our products. After a decade of efforts, clinics using our products have increased year over year, and now number more than 10,000. Among the doctors and healthcare professionals at these clinics, many make use of our products themselves. Their understanding of the products’ benefits from a medical point of view has led many to employ the products not just for their patients’ health management and care, but for their own as well. Interest in astaxanthin is also high with healthcare professionals abroad, and we have expanded sales of our supplements for medical institutions to 8 additional countries, including the U.S., Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore.