Fi Asia-China 2019

Appealing to young Chinese consumers: Four mega trending health issues driving the health food market

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Four major trending issues are driving the health foods market in China today, with a combination of strong national pride and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) influence having particular sway over the younger generation of local consumers. ©Getty Images
Four major trending issues are driving the health foods market in China today, with a combination of strong national pride and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) influence having particular sway over the younger generation of local consumers. ©Getty Images

Related tags: China, Health food

Four major trending issues are driving the health foods market in China today, with a combination of strong national pride and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) influence having particular sway over the younger generation of local consumers.

Andrew Atkinson, Senior Marketing Manager of Shanghai-based marketing agency China Skinny, highlighted these when speaking at the Fi-Asia China 2019 conference in Shanghai.

The four mega issues were:

1)      Sleep issues

Chinese consumers were found to clock much less sleep time than the global average, as a result of high stresses and anxiety issues.

“In addition, we found that there is a lot of time spent on digital services and gaming, cutting sleep time for Chinese consumers even shorter than the recommended amount,”​ said Atkinson.

“We have seen this trend reflecting back into local brands, products and marketing for supplements and health foods. For example, many campaigns are now targeting the education of Chinese mothers about this issue, and teaching them how to mitigate these, [e.g. via supplement consumption].”

2)      Obesity/Diabetes

According to the agency’s research, about one out of ten adults in China are diabetic, and only 25% have actually been properly diagnosed.

“The situation is so serious that the World Diabetic Organisation is considering diabetes in China to be a ‘crisis’, but not much is known about the local government’s handling of the situation,”​ said Atkinson.

That said, consumers in general have been found to show increasing awareness of the situation, and are looking for ways to prevent and help control diabetes for themselves and those around them.

“In one of our studies, diabetes and related health issues [such as obesity] were found to be the principal reason that consumers were looking to switch to sugar substitutes.”

3)      Dental issues

Atkinson added that over the past decade, although Chinese consumer access to an ever-expanding range of food products has increased rapidly, education with regard to these has not kept up.

“This [lack of education] has resulted in worsening rates of dental health within the country, particularly in children – less than 25% of Chinese children actually brush their teeth twice a day,”​ he said.

“We have even seen some of these consumers take up to 35 cans of [high-sugar products] such as Coca-Cola products in a week.”

That said, dental health has been increasingly recognized as having a major effect on public health, and the Chinese government has implemented several public policies to target this​ as well as raise awareness.

4)      Immunity

Influenza in particular was highlighted to be a rising issue in China, especially with regard to the handling of viruses and germs to prevent illnesses.

“China has not been too knowledgeable so far about [sanitization methods and awareness],”​ said Atkinson.

He added that this may be changing, as recent food safety scandals in schools and food service outlets have prompted vaccination implementations, e.g. for norovirus, and this will hopefully lead to increased knowledge and awareness.

Targeting young consumers

In addition, Atkinson emphasized that utilising the strong influence of national pride and TCM that has been seen in young Chinese consumers are crucial factors to capturing this market.

“Young consumers today really have very different spending behaviour as compared to previous generations – this has been influenced by factors such as urbanization, education and the previous one-child policy,”​ he said.

“Many of this generation have an extremely strong sense of national pride, and [rising governmental focus on TCM] has also led to this having a strong influence on this group, [so these and the trending health issues, are major factors to consider] when looking at innovation and development.”

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