Punk Health Market in China: How to Approach Younger Consumers?

Amid ongoing uncertainty, consumer demand for wellness in China is soaring. While the idea of “yangsheng” – a traditional Chinese term for maintaining one’s mental and physical health has been popular among older cohorts, it is now the younger generation of “punk health” aficionados who are fueling the market.

The term “punk health” is used to define the phenomenon of young Chinese trying to find easy and quick fix solutions to stress and other health related issues derived from hard work and pulling all-nighters. With the market thriving, different industries are seeing the potential to further expand their market in the health/wellness field.

In particular, healthcare brands are experiencing a surge in sales of vitamins, minerals, nutritional and herbal supplements, with an increase of nearly 20 times YOY on health management products in 2022 on JD.com. 

F&B brands, traditionally health-oriented or not, are hopping on the health bandwagon as well. Traditional Chinese health foods such as bird’s nest (Yanwo – 燕窝) and donkey gelatin (Ejiao – 阿胶) have been huge hits recently. Brands such as Dong’e Ejiao (东阿阿胶) and Xiaoxianduan (小仙炖) have managed to make these ancient health products easy and convenient to prepare and have been very well-received by younger Chinese consumers. While F&B brands that used to have nothing to do with wellness are now entering the game through new product launches – mini Oreos with assorted nuts and dried fruit – or brand collaborations – Pacific Coffee collaborating with Dong’e Ejiao for Ejiao coffee.

Besides traditional healthcare brands and F&B brands, luxury brands are also seeking opportunities in this fast-growing field. In June, Dior expanded its bid on China’s booming wellness sector by opening its Dior Beauty Retreat at Shanghai’s IFC Mall. Now, customers can enjoy the house’s salon-exclusive products, from tissue massages to specialized treatments for men at this new outpost, in addition to its widely available beauty line.

In order to reach this audience, brands need to find different approaches than they do for the older generations. Brands must capture subtle psychological factors and develop both products and communication channels based on an understanding of the mindset of young people. 

An example of a brand that is successfully reaching younger customers is Swisse, a Melbourne-based company that offers a range of supplements. vitamins and skincare products. Swisse opened a milk tea shop in Shanghai-a fusion that combines healthcare products with trendy style. It also redesigned its product to release "small Q bottles", which are better suited for young people to carry around. The company also chose to communicate with this younger group in a more joyful way via more social media interaction with customers, making use of platforms including Douyin, Kuai, Little Red Book, Weibo and other social apps that young people like to use.

Brands can also use public relations to boost the legitimacy of the brand but as the Chinese market is highly competitive, it can be difficult for a brand to stand out. The internet-savvy young audience is often skeptical of new products and services, and it can be challenging to win their trust. Effective PR can help a brand shape its image and create a positive perception among consumers. By communicating the right messages through the right channels, a wellness brand can raise awareness and drive sales.

Last but not least, young people's emphasis on their wellbeing creates a market full of potential, the involvement of brands and marketing is also the result of market orientation. However, a brand’s usage of the concept of “yangsheng” is essentially a response on the anxiety young people have regarding their health. When brands keep creating unnecessary and excessive anxiety in their marketing strategies to pressure consumers to purchase their products, and when the final product effect is unsatisfactory, the results could backfire.

If you would like to learn more about how you can properly and effectively market your products in this thriving market, feel free to get in touch with us: info@eastant.it.

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