“Healthy China” was the strategy published in 2016 by China’s leaders that held ambitious goals for the improvement of national health by 2030. They already made a landmark decision in 2012 by investing in a national mental health program, but have made some other major changes since.
One goal included a 16 trillion RMB broader healthcare system to offer preventative care, health services, case management, and caring for vulnerable segments of the population (like children). At the same time, tech giants are improving the value chain and disrupting traditional models that allow healthcare concerns to slip through the cracks.
One technology giant offering healthcare solutions with a one-stop shop approach is JD.com.
In a 2020 report from ChoZan, the purchasing considerations of Chinese consumers were analyzed to predict 2021 trends. In the report, corporate innovation coach Nishtha Mehta pointed out JD Health, calling it a “great example of both speed and a variety of customized products and services. Demand for online healthcare services has boomed over the pandemic, as people avoided outpatient clinics and pharmacies.”
These types of reports show that China is trying to redeem itself from past mistakes, such as mishandling of the H7N9 crisis. The ChoZan report specifically outlined how important healthy purchases have become to most consumer groups in China – especially the younger generations.
The younger consumer is more concerned with personal wellness, the environment, and breaking down assumptions. With this change in mindset, many are pursuing a different path from their parents, including a push toward better health.
With the increased public campaigns to promote wellness, this has been a successful trend. A published health review in 2019 that had a strong focus on environmentalism, demand for sustainable and organic products and healthy living. There was a strong correlation between many of these things.
While some might think that these changes were sparked by the recent COVID-19 outbreak, they weren’t. This movement was in place in China well before the pandemic. However, the average Chinese consumer likely did feel more spurred on toward improved health habits because of the global emergency.
“Many Chinese saw COVID-19 as a sign from Mother Nature to stay in line,” noted Mark Tanner (founder and managing director of the marketing strategy firm China Skinny) in the ChoZan report.
What does this change in health look like for Chinese consumers?
“Health conscious consumers are paying more attention to their food choices, in a way that goes beyond simply ensuring food safety,” a McKinsey & Company report from 2020 noted. “This year, more consumers said they were intentionally choosing healthier food.”
When it comes to Chinese consumer behavior, McKinsey found that:
- 60% of respondents said that they regularly look at labels on food products and try to avoid buying unhealthy foods.
- 55% of respondents said that they try to buy foods with healthy and natural products.
- 75% of respondents said that they took steps to be healthier during the COVID-19 pandemic and plan to continue these lifestyle changes after.
- Most Chinese respondents prefer purchasing foods from local Chinese brands since they are fresher than those imported from Australia, Taiwan and other countries.
- 70% of respondents said that they are willing to spend more on environmentally friendly products.
More Chinese consumers are looking for online solutions to help them pursue wellness. More than one in eight consumers have a fitness app on their phones. Options like JD make it possible to order healthcare services, medications, or preventative fresh food solutions from the comfort of people’s homes.
An expected global trend for wellness has come from China’s leading example of wellness TV and ecommerce, according to the Global Wellness Summit in 2021. This includes programming for free fitness, mental health, and meditation programming.
Routine visits and checkups can also be done without physical contact in many cases. In August, JD Health launched a “family doctor” telehealth service to provide quality services for up to eight family members sharing a “family doctor” service package. This includes 24-7 access to medical consultation support from top practitioners and medical experts. The program aims to reduce medical expenses and improve healthcare treatments with convenient access.
Online health consultation services were high during the COVID-19 pandemic, due largely to in-person visits being canceled to stop virus spread. JD Health brought on more than 65,000 doctors by the end of 2020 – including both in-house and third-party physicians. This included around 300 full-time doctors that worked in the “family doctor” services. Over 92 percent of the hires had at least a decade of medical experience.
It is the personalized approach to healthcare solutions and specialized centers that is extremely important to many consumers considering online options. In the 600-page ChoZan report, digital innovation strategist and China expert Alberto Antinucci stated that “personal care will be more and more important, and Chinese consumers will continue to spend more time and money purchasing safe, eco-friendly products and eating more healthily after the [COVID-19] crisis.”
China-focused brand strategy agency The Foundation’s founder Jerry Clode notes, “I believe JD has and will continue to offer a compelling alternative to Alibaba’s mass offering by focusing on niche and personal services.” JD Health offers online consultations, which have averaged 100,000 daily participants. This has made JD Health the largest online medical consultation platform in China, and the focus on specialized medical centers is setting JD apart. By the end of 2020, JD had 14 specialized medical centers, including ENT (ear, nose, throat) centers, a Center for Heart Disease, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
JD also offers a wide range of products to help with solutions and preventative care. A huge part of the movement toward healthier living is increasing healthy habits that come from eating fresh foods and exercise. This has included a huge spike in sales of home gym equipment, like treadmills, yoga equipment, dumbbells, and exercise bikes.
McKinsey’s report pointed out that “the health-conscious movement is here to stay. A large majority of consumers say they are seeking a healthier lifestyle, which presents opportunities for companies to define what health really means.”
JD Health CEO Richard Liu has placed a big emphasis on quality deliveries – especially for its growing market of fresh foods. By October 2020, JD Health held 25.8 percent of China’s fresh produce market. Some of the most sought-after online purchases in China for groceries include meat, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, and fruits.
Richard Liu is committed to increasing the options and improving logistics to ensure that consumers can get high-quality items from JD at all times. The after-sales customer service is unmatched by competitors. The company is set to become the leading ecommerce giant across most sectors – including healthcare services and groceries, so attention to detail is crucial for success.
JD Health offers round-the-clock pharmaceutical delivery to provide consumers with fast access to much-needed parts of their health care. JD has a fleet of drones that increase its ability to deliver quickly and accurately.
With consumer focus on wellness, JD continues to offer online options for health-conscious purchasing with the convenience of a one-stop shop online. The lack of physical retail space only increases the massive selection of products and services that the technology giant can offer.
About JD Health and CEO Richard Liu
JD is the largest retailer in China and a global Fortune 500 company. The company was founded as Jingdong in 2004 by Richard Lui and is now largely known as just JD. It opened on NASDAQ in 2014 with the largest IPO to date. JD Health is just one branch of JD and became a publicly traded JD unit in 2020.
After university, Richard Liu Qiangdong worked for Japan Life as the director of computers and service for the herbal supplement giant. He became well versed in ecommerce and customer service. He founded JD as an ecommerce site, avoiding overhead costs for a retail space. Liu has seen to it that JD is unmatched when it comes to its quality customer service and huge online selection of goods.
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