Wandering though the library of a Chinese primary school, don’t be surprised if you encounter a 6-year old dusting up on their DNA-editing knowledge. The “Third-Generation Gene Editor CRISPR,” has made the list of recommended books for Chinese kids in elementary and middle schools, along with a host of subjects including quantum computing, drones and aerospace.
That 10-year old boy by the window – absorbing the pages of an industrial technology textbook – is 28% more likely to be obese than kids his age in 2015, and 5% more likely to be wearing glasses. Whilst increasingly affluent parents are spending more than ever on premium food and beverage with a healthy slant, busy lives and the resulting consumption of processed, packaged foods is contributing to the plumping-up of China’s future mega-consumers.
Extreme study regimes and extra-curricular lessons, topped off by a regular fix of computer gaming is contributing to increased myopia – yet all is not lost. Nine out of ten elementary students have access to a basketball court at their school to provide a breather from book work and devices. Similarly, two-thirds of middle schools have a football pitch.
At the other end of the lifecycle, China’s plus-60s are battling technical barriers, the price of gadgets and internet access, and poor eyesight, missing out on the globally-pioneering digital conveniences that make life a lot easier in China. Less than a quarter of China’s 249 million seniors are online. By comparison, 73% of pensioners in the US are internet users.
The digital divide between China’s quantum physics-literate youth and its “digital refugee” seniors represent the gaping disparities between generations in China; how far the country has come, and where it is heading. Reading the unique challenges and drivers each age group faces also presents plenty of opportunities for brands who develop products and services that cater for them, and tell stories that connect with them.
One new industry that taps into parents’ desire to give their children the best chance they can at life are DNA checks. A simple saliva swab that miraculously tells you the future academic, sporting and creative strengths of your precious child so you focus on supporting those is expected to grow 40-fold between 2018 and 2022. As bioethicist and health policy expert Timothy Caulfield states, there’s “no way a DNA test will tell you anything that’s meaningful about complex traits.” Nevertheless, it is characteristically tapping into a perceived need that Chinese parents believe and are willing to pay a lot for.
Beyond the obvious products, such as tapping into obesity and myopia support, devices for elderly, or basketball paraphernalia, a new opportunity surfaces every day in China. Many of the opportunities are likely to be relevant for your products, services and brand. China Skinny can assist in tapping into those hidden gems. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.