In a society that has long been focused on preventative health and well-being, Chinese consumers are now more willing than ever to invest in products and services that promise to improve their physical and mental health.
While China is a great opportunity for business growth, the market is unique and difficult to navigate. Though the Chinese wellness industry is still in its developmental stages, it has a lot of growth potential. There are already many things that set Chinese consumers apart from those in other countries regarding wellness products.
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In this article, we are taking a quick look at the health and wellness industry in the Chinese market, and then we will jump into how to promote your brand in the health and wellness category in China.
How Big Is the Chinese Wellness Market?
Around the world, people are becoming more and more interested in improving their well-being. In China, this is no different. The Chinese wellness market is growing rapidly as people become more aware of the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.
With its huge population, China is unsurprisingly home to one of the world’s largest wellness markets. China’s health and wellness industry is currently valued at $683 billion, which makes it the second-largest wellness market in the world. This vibrant sector attracts increasing investment from both domestic and international players, making it an essential destination for businesses.
The Chinese wellness market is booming and expected to grow even more in the coming years. There are many reasons for this growth, including rising income levels among the middle class, increased awareness of wellness benefits, and government support for the industry.
During the global wellness summit in 2016, due to the health problems in China (chronic disease will triple among Chinese people over 40 by 2030), the World Health Organization implemented a plan called “Healthy China 2030”, to encourage people to stay healthy, showing health benefits of taking care of themselves. Preventable chronic diseases account for 70% of China.
The new Chinese consumers in the wellness industry
People who consume beauty and health products share similarities: young, (mostly) female, urban, and belong to high-income groups. These people are brave enough to try something new and stick with their belief in a healthy lifestyle.
These women prefer using beauty and personal care products that can help in improving physical and mental health conditions. In the survey, it was also found that most consumers were influenced by their friends and family members when it came to buying wellness-related items.
But it’s not only women growing wellness spending. Young generations in China are becoming the biggest consumer group in the health and wellness market in China. Although they still use some of the traditional Chinese medicine goodies, they are also getting interested in foreign brands and growing their wellness spending online.
The younger generations work long hours, very often in a seated position, in front of screens all day. They have problems with sleep, stress, and bad nutrition. They are more aware of daily work-life balance, but this growing middle class of younger consumers is doomed to a very competitive environment, that generates a lot of stress and pressure. This is why they are starting to take better care of themselves, buying organic food, engaging in physical exercise, and taking dietary supplements or using wellness and spa services.
Trends of the Wellness Market in China
Younger generations are driving the Chinese wellness market
The younger generations value and appreciate well-being that’s over and above general wealth. Well-being is important because it gives them a sense of purpose, direction, and connection with something larger than themselves, such as work or family life.
The global wellness economy is changing thanks to young people, that are becoming more conscious of their health. Those are also the first generations that speak loud about the importance of mental health, placed together, as equally important as physical health. They purchase organic food, and pay premium prices for products from international brands and local companies, offering products and services improving the overall health of brand savvy Chinese consumers.
When they do spend their money on products like health food products or supplements, they want to ensure that this purchase was not only good for their physical well-being but also for their overall career development or social contribution to society.
More People Are Seeing the Benefits of Functional Foods
Functional food has been a traditional part of the Chinese diet for years and has now gone mainstream in the Chinese market in recent years since it has been proven to be beneficial for one’s health and well-being.
A new trend is emerging with a growing number of young professionals starting to consume supplements or sports drinks after workouts before going back to work, which they believe improve their overall productivity during the day resulting from improved focus and energy levels.
Overall, functional foods and complementary medicine will become a greater part of the wellness industry in China over the next five years.
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Health-conscious consumers are becoming more sophisticated
There is a global movement towards healthier lifestyles as people become more health-conscious, DIY-oriented, and well-aware of their belongings to live better lives.
As such, companies need to adapt to this changing market environment by providing services that help consumers achieve their goals rather than just selling products like nutritional supplements or anti-aging creams that create long-term value for customers.
They also need to understand their customer’s needs better; for example, there is an increased demand for healthy meals delivered fresh to homes upon orders without preservatives or artificial additives, which meets the growing desire of consumers for healthy and nutritious food.
Chinese people are in need of customized dietary and nutritional supplement plans
Due to the fact, that the wellness and health supplements market is undeveloped in China yet, Chinese people lack knowledge about which products will be good for them and how many of which ingredients do their body need. The amount of products available on the market is gigantic, leaving potential consumers confused and frustrated.
Therefore, the market is in need of customized dietary and nutritional supplement plans. All the brands offering customized packages, consultation and other personalized solutions will have a high chance of succeeding on the Chinese market.
LemonBox is a perfect example of taking consumers’ needs into consideration, creating an online questionnaire for ingredient and products customization. The formulaire is available in the WeChat mini-program and customers are later left with a list of recommended supplements that they can purchase directly in the program.
Marketing strategy to succeed in the Chinese wellness market
Apart from following the trends and understanding your audience in China, there are some actions you need to take in order to build good branding and e-reputation on the market.
1. Chinese Social Media
The social media market in China is very important because it has not only grown by over 300% but also holds the greatest number of internet users in all of Asia. The Chinese Social Media Market consists of marketing via blogs, forums, link-sharing sites, live chats, instant messaging apps, and many more.
This fast growth means that companies are looking for ways to tap into this new source of potential customers or are trying to keep up with their competition, who have already started gaining momentum there.
Western companies should look into getting employees to participate online through blogs, forums, etc., which can help them establish an international presence. They should also use Weibo (a leading micro-blogging site) to communicate with their audience and do some marketing, such as free giveaways.
They should also make their accounts on these sites and keep them updated, especially during special occasions like Black Friday, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. The Chinese Social Media Market is a way for companies to get in touch with a large audience in a short amount of time at a relatively low cost.
They can create an international presence using Weibo and other social networking websites that have recently become popular there and tap into the market this creates by marketing their products or services online, etc. — therefore increasing their sales margin.
2. KOL Marketing
Key Opinion Leader marketing is a relatively new phenomenon, and more companies are using it as a way of reaching their customers. To properly use KOL marketing as a method of developing marketing strategies for products, it is important to understand some of the basics of how these endorsements work.
KOLs charge companies based on their ability to influence a wide number of people. This means that a broad social media following is the most effective way for celebrities to increase their ratings. Influencers post photos and videos promoting your brand and products, but they can also host live-streaming sessions, where they will present your products and talk about its benefits, encouraging people to buy during the I’ve stream.
When deciding on which celebrity will be best for endorsing a product, an important question to ask is how many followers they have and if those followers are likely to be interested in buying the product.
In some cases, there may already be a large group of fans for whatever type of product or item is being marketed, so it might not be necessary to use an outside entity. If there is already enough interest from consumers, you may not have to bring in any other KOLs.
However, sometimes only one celebrity endorsement would not be enough to create the necessary interest for consumers — especially when there is not already an existing group of fans. This leads to another key component in KOL marketing — if a product can be endorsed by multiple KOLs, that will increase its overall effectiveness.
3. Baidu SEO
Baidu SEO includes many different components, but at its core is understanding how algorithms work or how searches are performed by users online. Having a Chinese website hosted in China is the first step, and an important one, but it needs to be optimized for Baidu to bring results.
By building up a better profile based on these things, you can improve your ranking, leading to more visitors and eventually more revenue. In other words, Baidu SEO is crucial for building an online presence in China.
While rules govern the way users search through their site, they aren’t always clear because sometimes their methods aren’t consistent. The best thing a person can do is use the keywords they think will be most effective but later find out that maybe another combination of keywords would have been a better option.
This constant trial and error may seem like tiresome work, but with time it becomes easier for even inexperienced marketers to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Baidu SEO.
Join a Chinese online marketplace
China has the largest population globally, making it a good choice for companies to expand their reach. More and more businesses are considering going global by expanding to China’s rapidly growing e-commerce market, worth over 200 billion USD. Chinese online marketplaces such as Taobao and TMall offer several advantages that will give your company a competitive edge when selling cross-border.
The Chinese consumer market isn’t just large; it’s also highly competitive. To be successful, you need a comprehensive marketing strategy, including a well-planned product mix and effective communication with your target audience.
Taobao and Tmall have various types of listings allowing sellers to easily find an option that matches their product line. Each listing type has distinct advantages that give sellers several ways to approach each platform.
Sellers also can use either one marketplace exclusively or leverage both at once. Allowing buyers from different regions access to your products is more effective than limiting yourself to just one marketplace. The cost and effort involved in making sales on these sites can be offset by selling on multiple Chinese online marketplaces simultaneously.
Start your Journey in the Chinese Wellness Market
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