Carol Huang
Aug 14, 2020

Punk wellness: Chinese healthcare marketing targets anxious youth

Young Chinese are becoming the main target for healthcare products and brands need fun ways to communicate.

Punk wellness: Chinese healthcare marketing targets anxious youth

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, members of the younger generation in China are showing, unsurprisingly, heightened concern about their health. This translates to opportunity for companies offering health and wellness products, but they must learn how to reach and communicate with these consumers, according to agency and brand executives. 

A paradox exists among young people as they pursue healthier alternatives. Although they are worried about issues such as insomnia, hair-loss and ageing, they also want to maintain a lifestyle consistent with their age, including activities such as clubbing.

Healthcare brands thus need different approaches to reach this audience than they do for the older set. Brands must capture subtle psychological factors and develop both products and communications based on an understanding of young people's mindset.

"After the pandemic, consumers are much more focused on their physical and mental health," Henry Shen, chief strategic officer of McCann Health Greater China, told Campaign. "There is an opportunity for us. For healthcare brands, it is a hint. While keeping the physical health for consumers, how to maintain the mental health of consumers is something people can work on."

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. The brand has seen more young customers in China, but with a slightly different demand from traditional health product buyers.

"We notice a concept of 'punk wellness' among young people," said Suseka Li, managing director of Swisse Wellness China. "So when we are developing the product we need to cater to their need. They want both fun and health at the same time."

As more than half of the customers of Swisse are under 30 years old, Li feels it is important that healthcare brands use a joyful way to communicate with young customers. Swisse chose more social media in China to interact with customers, making use of platforms including Douyin, Kuai, Little Red Book, Weibo and other social apps that young people like to use. The brand also makes short videos to match the trend, as young people are spending more time online rather than offline.

Other fun methods include transboundary brand cooperation and new product launching. 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.

Apart from mental health, the young generation nowadays also has more compassion and love for the universe, said Shen. This is another thing that brands can work on to show that they can do more about the society and to win more trust of young people.

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