Mark Tanner
30 March 2022 0 Comments

Health has long been one of the most important trends in China. Horrific smog in 2013 drove China-based researchers to conclude that Beijing’s pollution made the city almost “uninhabitable for human beings.” The soupy air was an unmistakable reminder of the importance of staying healthy. This, coupled with numerous food scandals, more sedentary lifestyles and the lasting Chinese tradition of being proactive about health, brought health further to the fore. That year, health was the number one concern for wealthy Chinese, mirroring findings across many consumer groups in China.

China’s pollution and food scandals have improved since 2013, but health has largely remained the top priority. The onset of Covid has seen its importance accelerate further, with a skew towards anything that enhances immunity. Beijing’s Five Year Plans and 2030 goals have consistently stated health as a key strategy going forward. They have similarly driven other related policies such as sports and fitness. Businesses have followed, offering services such as virtual health consultations with meds delivered within 60 minutes – available in the middle of the night!

Chinese consumers’ health focus expands beyond just direct health products, but an important consideration in food and beauty. Personal health is increasingly contributing to tourism decisions, is one of the biggest drivers of sustainability movements in China, and impacts industries as far reaching as cars and furniture. That’s why we find studying health preferences and trends so interesting and relevant to many of the categories we work in at China Skinny.

This week, we have officially launched our 2022 China Health Supplements Trends white paper, that captures many of those trends utilising consumer and ecommerce data from our Supplement Tracker. Whilst the Tracker captures supplement preferences, the most effective claims by brands, important and trending ingredients, functions and categories; they all shed light on wider health trends relevant to brands spanning beyond the supplement category.

One of the interesting takeouts from the study was that against a backdrop of rising patriotism and savvier local brands, foreign brands’ market share and prices increased dramatically in 2021. Domestic brands’ greater focus on curative products such as weight loss, appeared to be less effective than foreign brands’ holistic ranges and healthy, lifestyle-orientated products and claims.

Like in many categories in China, health supplements have seen a clear trend of diversification with more targeted specific products. Similarly, growth is being spurred by the cross-category expansion through more multi-purpose products. Products stuck between them have garnered less favour with consumers.

There are some case studies in the white paper too, with lessons for brands across many segments. A good example is Bio-E capitalising on China’s “lying flat” movement to sell its supplements. Similarly, By-Health’s subbrand Yep illustrates the importance of choosing the right KOLs based on your target market. Blackmores highlights how marketing can effectively be localised, even when products aren’t.

The insights in the white paper are constantly updated and available through the simple-to-use, good value interactive Tracker dashboard to enable an unhindered view into how China’s supplement preferences and perceptions are evolving. Find out more about the Supplements Tracker here. To download the white paper, click/tap here.

For our UK-based readers interested in honing their China knowledge with the latest trends and developments, China Skinny’s Andrew Atkinson makes up a trio of experts at Santander Bank’s Understanding China’s Retail Landscape and Trends webinar next Thursday, 7 April. To learn more about the webinar and register, click/tap here.

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