Golden Age For Health Care Firms In China

China’s Healthcare market is predicted to reach 400 billion RMB by 2021.

Let’s take a look at the main factors of the healthcare growth in China:

  • Living standards growth, that is increased spending;
  • Environmental problems, that is increased caution;
  • Baby Boomers, that is increased concern.

Let’s see what this means.

The main reason for the steady growth of this market is that Chinese people tend to increase their spending on healthcare together with the increase in living standards.

Another point is that China suffers from pollution, and the local population is now largely concerned with the effects it has on their health.

It is also true that China has up to 400 million so-called Baby Boomers who are the seniors born in 1946-1964. These are the people who are now starting to have health problems and that’s going to reach its peak by 2029.

What is particularly interesting about China is that people here are staying active until their 70-ies. Before that they consider themselves to be pretty young and not to have any serious health issues. So keep up like that they prefer to get the treatment that would enhance their immunity and help to stay healthy and fit for a long time.

Healthcare in China has now also entered the digital era. This is clearly seen through the existence of more than 2000 apps for healthcare. They offer facilitated health service via giving medical advice, appointments, managing patients, etc. however, there is still room for improvement with a lot of aspects needing optimization.

Why is it a big niche for foreign healthcare firms?

Of course, first, the market is huge.

Apart from that, it should be noted that Chinese people are looking for high-quality healthcare service, as well as for high-quality health industry machinery or pharmaceuticals. However, in China, they are often staying cautious because of loads of fakes in the internal market.

With that being said, foreign healthcare firms are able to win more credit in that respect. However, it should be remembered that this industry is subject to many regulations. When it comes to China, where the regulations are changing fast and they should be strictly followed. Otherwise, it might be detrimental to your business.

There are already a lot of players in the field

The recent China International Import Expo in Shanghai has witnessed a whole of 300 foreign healthcare firms, which is a mere tenth of all the exhibitors. Around half of them, in fact, say not minding the regulations creates business barriers and results in missed opportunities. Sometimes it might even cost a quarter of annual revenues.

Shanghai, China. 7th Nov 2019. Visitors learn about a pediatric MRI system at the Medical Equipment and Healthcare Products exhibition area during the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, on Nov. 7, 2019. Credit: Wang Peng/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

It is also true that Chinese companies are looking for partnerships with pharmaceutical companies all over the world. This is a great chance to develop completely new effective medication and devices. It is to mention here that mutual benefit wins over anything on this market. Despite recent tariff disputes between China and the USA, the latter still had 18 of its healthcare companies displayed at the expo. The condition was that a product sold in the expo is not subject to the new restrictive regulations. So good business prospects can overcome the barriers, which means that it is essential to make the Chinese believe there is a good business prospect for them in cooperating with you or buying from you.

All in all, once China gives green light to foreign investment this opportunity should be taken and used at its best.

What about Digital in healthcare in China?

You might well wonder if healthcare in China gives a lot of prospects because of seniors mostly, then the question if they can be targeted online.

The best thing here is that the government is promoting all the newest facilities for the seniors online. So they are easily adjusting to that. Around 80% of seniors can be targeted through social media as they have their own accounts.

They basically spent around 40 hours per month online in general, including searching for healthcare services and products for themselves and their offsprings as well.

Apart from that, not only the seniors but people of other age groups are also going online to address to the health industry.

So how to get into Chinese healthcare market?

Regardless of whether you are into pharmaceuticals or you manufacture medical equipment or you are providing health service, once you aim to reach out to the Chinese, there are a few things to take care of in the first place.

  1. Website Development

Chinese people are very meticulous and careful when they are going to buy anything. They want to have access to as much information about a product or a service as they can. Health is about one’s life, so it is even more important for them, in this case, to know exactly what your company and product are about.

For this reason your website has to be designed specifically for the Chinese:

  • It should be designed in Mandarin language;
  • It should be accessible in China with China/Hongkong/Singapore hosting;
  • It should have Click-to-Chat tools to provide instant service;
  • It should contain as much visual and verbal information about you as possible;
  • It should feature your license and certifications for trust.
  1. Online Visibility is the key to boost Brand Awareness

When the Chinese are looking for the information they are going to Baidu – a Chinese search engine. They will look for medication or services or devices if they want to find a B2B partner. So the task is to be on top there. For a short-term effect, you can pay to Baidu and get Pay-per-Click ads to generate quick attendance for your website. However, to build a long-term strategy you can to a lot 6 months and act as follows:

  • You can use keywords on Baidu;
  • You can create a page on Baike – Chinese Wikipedia;
  • You can get backlinks from Zhihu which is similar to Quora.

This is something to make you noticeable on the Chinese web.

At the same time, you might start working on your product availability. Once they see you on the web, they will definitely look not only for the website but also where to make a purchase.

You have to act according to the exact niche in the health industry that you occupy. An official account on Weibo and Wechat are highly recommended. This will open an audience of hundreds of millions of users to you. WeChat is a great way to make an introduction of your healthcare company with an e-brochure and keep up with that by making regular updates of the content.

If you want to start selling pharmaceuticals or medical devices, for instance, it is advisable to get a store on Tmall for that.

You can also get on WeDoctor – a popular Chinese app for anything in healthcare from selling medicine to providing service to seniors.

  1. Reputation is Vital when matter to health

Reputation is the most important thing you have to develop once you are in the Chinese market. Why? Because Chinese people never want to explore on their own and they don’t accept any possible risks. Especially, if we are talking about healthcare. They want a third party to certify your worth. This is true for individual consumers, for distributors, for any service that needs your medical device, etc.

Earning a reputation is time-consuming but it is worth it. You should let them talk about you and let as many people hear about you as possible. This would create a positive image of you and raise their awareness.

How to do it?

  • Get articles about you in health-related e-magazines;
  • Get into Q&A feeds on health-related websites;
  • Get reviews from health-related media;
  • Get a KOL – key opinion leader – in healthcare to speak about you;
  • Get influencers on WeChat, Weibo, Douyin.

This all will help you to create a positive buzz around you.

What reputation gives you on a Chinese market?

So once you have taken all the previously mentioned measures you are expected to gain trust among the Chinese audience. What it gives to you is:

  • Selling medicine to individual consumers who already know your brand, heard a lot of positive opinions about it and are therefore sure this medicine will get them a good effect;
  • Selling medical devices to other services who also have a lot of trustworthy information about you, they sure the quality is high and will only contribute to their own reputation as well;
  • Selling any of that to the distributors who only want to work with respected and highly reputed brands not to lose their face, not to take care of marketing, but only to sell big, and help you sell big;
  • Providing services like insurance, treatment, etc, to individual customers in China who also trust their organism to you as to someone who is confirmed to be good for that.

What we can see is that reputation in the health industry opens all the doors to you. So it really important to understand the Chinese healthcare market along with their national mentality.

These are your first crucial steps in China

We have all the relevant experience to help you with going through these steps. Our previous clients include the following:

  • Vitabiotics (we have done short-term ad campaign for them along with Weibo and WeChat campaigns and KOL marketing);
  • Arkopharma laboratories (Website set up and WeChat);
  • Pharma Deal (PPC and SEO, Social Media Campaign, KOL marketing and e-Reputation).

We have a lot more case studies with Coswell, Primalac, inFat, Veeda, and many more to tell you.

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