Malaysian entrepreneur shows how to commercialise science
He found himself faced with the opportunity to launch a high beta-glucan oat powder, proven to lower cholesterol, supplied by DSM Nutritionals.
Mr. Ong knew he needed to differentiate his clinically-proven product from regular oats and from ordinary oat powders, which have do not have the same high content of beta-glucan.
His answer: to provide Malaysians with free cholesterol tests, so that they could see why they needed his product.
“In Malaysia there are 28 million people,” Mr. Ong explained to New Nutrition Business. “6 million of them have high cholesterol. They are aged 40 and above. But not everybody knows they have high cholesterol.”
Mr. Ong’s company provides a free cholesterol-testing service at special booths set up in pharmacies and drugstores – and since 2011 his company has provided almost 40,000 free tests.
“If people discover they have high cholesterol, they buy the product. If people want a cholesterol test they normally must pay – and the cost is about €4 per test [US$5.50]. There are people who cannot afford to pay that. We are giving it to them for free.”
Malaysian consumers have rewarded Mr. Ong by giving his brand – called BG22 – an 80% share of the oat powders segment, despite the fact that BG22 retails at a super-premium price. Based on this success, an oat breakfast cereal has recently been added to the range.
BG22 is sold only in pharmacies – meaning that it can communicate its serious message more easily and the cholesterol-testing service can be provided in the same location. It is not sold in supermarkets, where it would be under constant price pressure by comparison with inferior products.
If you are looking to commercialise a new ingredient or some piece of nutrition science, the wisdom of Mr. Ong shows you how.
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