China’s growing health and wellness market—which is expected to reach nearly $70 billion by 2020—presents an enormous opportunity for forward-looking companies. But to gain a share of this market, manufacturers must understand the unique characteristics of Chinese consumers and how best to reach and serve them.
Chinese consumers are increasingly health conscious, buying a wide variety of products to treat common ailments, boost their energy, and strengthen their immune systems. The reasons for this growing trend are many: rising incomes, the stress effects of urbanization, an aging population, and the country’s ongoing issues with food safety and quality. More and more, consumers are self-medicating with health supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) health treatments—even buying brand names and higher-quality products that are more expensive.
For manufacturers of health and wellness products, the Chinese consumer market is an increasingly attractive target. But before jumping in and committing valuable resources to secure a foothold, most companies are wrestling with a variety of strategic issues, such as which consumer segments to target, what products to offer, how city size affects consumer behavior, and which distribution channels to use.
To gain more insight into these issues and to better understand consumers’ behaviors and attitudes with regard to health and wellness products, The Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight (CCCI) surveyed 2,600 Chinese consumers from the middle and affluent classes who range in age from 18 to 65 and live in large, medium, and small cities across the country. (The middle class was defined as having an annual household income of at least RMB 75,000 in real 2010 RMB.) All the consumers who participated in the survey had in recent months purchased products in the vitamins, minerals, and supplements (VMS) segment, the OTC-treatments segment, or both.