Selling health, wellness using the Filipino lens | Inquirer Business

Selling health, wellness using the Filipino lens

/ 02:06 AM February 23, 2024

Ralph Ray Chua


Ralph Ray Chua serves as president of Immuni Global Inc., manufacturer of Immuni herbal drinks packaged in rectangular sachets. Recently honored with the Mansmith Innovation Awards for product innovation, Ralph provides valuable insights into the development and launch of Immuni.

Question: Can you share the backstory of your startup and what inspired the launch of a herbal drink in individual sachets?

Answer: My background spans various industries, including food and nonfood manufacturing, real estate and construction. I’ve been particularly involved in manufacturing gulaman or jelly powder from natural seaweed extracts, widely used for making refreshing palamig (cold) drinks by street vendors, aligning my work with the early morning industry. During my travels, especially in the early morning and late night, I observed the challenges faced by hardworking Filipinos, experiencing noticeable fatigue from the demands of their work.


This firsthand experience highlighted the harsh reality of balancing work demands with the essential need to support their families. Simple illnesses could disrupt a family’s livelihood, risking financial strain and potential impoverishment. Illness not only means physical discomfort but also a day without food for their families. Moreover, the financial burden of hospital expenses can lead to formidable debts that take years to resolve, limiting options for medical treatment due to insufficient funds for initial admission fees.


In response to these challenges, our mission became clear—to develop a solution that addresses the physical strain and fatigue of working Filipinos while safeguarding their health. This led to the creation of Immuniplus, an all-natural liquid supplement designed as a steadfast health companion, actively boosting vitality and resilience. We recognized that good health is proactive, aiming not just to treat illnesses but to protect and ensure resilience for fulfilling responsibilities, not only for one’s self but, more importantly, for families and loved ones.

Q: How did you strategically approach both the formulation of your product and the packaging to ensure a blend of effectiveness and consumer appeal?

A: Being Filipino-Chinese, my upbringing revolved around traditional medicine, fostering a deep appreciation for natural ingredients and ancestral wisdom. Drawing on this background, the formulation of Immuniplus considered Filipino preferences and the familiarity of traditional remedies. Extensive research into natural ingredients rooted in Filipino health practices allowed us to create a product that is culturally relevant. The strategic formulation became a harmonious blend of effective health-promoting elements, seamlessly extending to the packaging. Immuniplus, as a liquid and ready-to-drink solution, aligns effortlessly with the on-the-go lifestyle of modern Filipinos, providing a quick, effortless and portable health companion for their busy daily routines.

Q: Can you highlight any unique herbal ingredients or combinations that contribute to the success of your food supplement?

A: Immuniplus strategically addresses the transitional phase of feeling “unwell,” signaling vulnerability before full-onset illness. This involves discomfort, fatigue and a general lack of wellness, and it acts as a proactive solution to mitigate these symptoms and restore vitality. Beyond being a reactive remedy, Immuniplus serves as a daily health partner, offering comprehensive support for consistent well-being. The blend of ginger, turmeric, spirulina and moringa or malunggay is designed not only to address symptoms but also to fortify the body’s defenses and promote overall health with regular consumption. This dual functionality reflects our commitment to a transformative health solution that adapts to dynamic individual needs, ensuring a holistic and sustained approach to well-being.

Q: What distinguishes your food supplement, especially in the herbal drinks category, from others currently available?

A: Immuniplus distinguishes itself in the herbal drinks and food supplements category by offering a robust health solution deeply rooted in Filipino heritage. By incorporating traditional Filipino ingredients, it goes beyond being a remedy, standing as a testament to the rich wellness traditions of the Philippines. The commitment to purity and authenticity, reflected in its all-natural composition, sets Immuniplus apart from synthetic alternatives, aligning with traditional Filipino health practices.

Another distinguishing factor is the convenience that Immuniplus provides. With its ready-to-drink format and portable individual sachets, it caters to the fast-paced lifestyles of today’s consumers, aligning seamlessly with Filipino preferences for hassle-free health solutions. Beyond being a supplement, Immuniplus proves to be a practical wellness companion, easily integrated into daily routines, offering instant comfort by addressing various symptoms associated with feeling unwell, positioning itself as a dynamic health partner that provides both proactive and reactive support.

Q: How did you identify there was a market for your product?

A: Our identification of the market for Immuniplus was fueled by a keen observation of a notable gap in available solutions—the absence of products specifically targeting the transitional phase between optimal health and illness, known as the ‘unwell’ phase. This gap became the focal point of our mission to provide a purpose-built solution that caters to the specific health concerns faced during this often-overlooked period. By addressing this clear void in the market, Immuniplus was meticulously crafted to meet the unmet health requirements of individuals in the ‘unwell’ phase, offering a preventive approach through natural ingredients. Our commitment stems from the understanding that a successful product not only meets existing demands but also addresses latent needs overlooked by current offerings in the market.


Q: Your initial launch faced challenges, requiring a swift change in direction. Could you shed light on the mistakes encountered during that phase and elaborate on the corrective measures implemented?

A: Our initial phase presented challenges, notably skepticism around a new brand and a new product. Prioritizing safety and efficacy, we obtained FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and halal certifications before launch, and engaged third-party laboratories to ensure the highest standards. Initially targeting sari-sari stores, we faced resistance due to the unfamiliarity of the product. This prompted a pivot to supermarkets and pharmacies, where hesitancy and high listing fees posed additional hurdles.

Recognizing the limitations of traditional distribution, we strategically shifted to a comprehensive approach, blending grassroots marketing with online initiatives. Launching a livelihood program and collaborating with local barangays, we raised awareness at the community level. This grassroots-driven strategy, combined with initial penetration into local pharmacies, paved the way for organic growth and captured the attention of regional pharmacy chains. Encouraged by consumer demand, major retailers proactively sought to include Immuniplus on their shelves, establishing our foothold in the market. From a modest start in four local pharmacies in Cebu, we’ve expanded to over 1,500 retail outlets across 40 provinces in the Philippines, showcasing the impact of our strategic adjustments and grassroots-focused initiatives, positioning Immuniplus as a trusted health solution. —CONTRIBUTED

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Josiah Go is the chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. The search for the 4th Mansmith Innovation Awards is ongoing. Details at

TAGS: Health, wellness

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.