Sleep deprivation, oh how horrible. It’s the giveaway sign of new parents or someone trying to juggle a demanding job with study or other extracurriculars. It’s also increasingly likely to affect Chinese consumers.
On the surface, many Chinese appear to be among the most capable sleepers on the planet – where else do people manage to nap while standing on the subway, or within seconds on a seat anywhere, even with the lights and noise of Chinese cities around them. Yet for 300 million Chinese people – almost a quarter of the population – sleep disorders are a genuine issue according to a recent study from the Chinese Sleep Research Society. Overall, the sleep quality of 94.1% of the Chinese public does not meet the recommended healthy standard.
It’s little surprise that many Chinese don’t get enough sleep: Chinese are working longer hours than before, and there are ever-more distractions in and out of the home. A recent Accenture study found 43% of Chinese spend less time at home than they did five years ago, versus just 15% on average from the 13 countries studied. Even at home, the smartphone screen and its alluring ecommerce deals, short videos, WeChat feeds and gaming are keeping Chinese consumers from the land of nod.
China’s lack of sleep has supported the rise of related industries. Sleep-aid supplements on Tmall increased by 300% last year, for example. However, like most things in China it is far from a one-size-fits-all, with data giving us an insight into how segments approach their issues overall. Consumers aged over 40 are more likely to favour treatment-based remedies such as natural foods and supplements, while those born in the 80s aim to optimise their sleeping environment, spending large on high-end mattresses, bedding and pillows. Folk from the 90s tend to buy products such as eye masks and sprays.
The steep growth in sleep-related products and services indicates that Chinese consumers are increasingly recognising their sleep issues, which has translated to an increase in resonant sleep-assisted marketing claims. Nevertheless, many consumers are unaware of the far-reaching downstream effects of a lack of sleep such as weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cognitive function, lack of sex drive and even family harmony – all directly and indirectly related to family, success and health which are among the most important for goals for many Chinese consumers.
Brands should consider related sleep-related components when determining their product development, positioning and messaging hierarchy. Even categories that seem a little disconnected would be wise to consider it. We only need to look at Chinese tourists who claim the top reason for travelling overseas is to relax. As a hotel or airline, sleep-assisting pillows, seats or other features may increase your allure. China Skinny can assist to ensure you make the most of the opportunities. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.