How elderly healthcare and rehabilitation apply in China
23 May 2013
In China, as people are living longer and the elderly population continues to rise, market demand for healthcare and rehabilitation products designed to meet the needs of seniors for home safety and physical health is fast expanding. At present, the business turnover of companies selling home medical and rehabilitation products on the mainland is growing at over 20% a year. Some enterprises are even posting triple-digit growth.
When elderly healthcare and rehabilitation devices were still in their nascent stage of development in China several years ago, consumers and even medical personnel had limited knowledge about these products. Following the development of senior services and the introduction of different kinds of elderly healthcare concepts in the mainland, the demand for elderly healthcare and rehabilitation products is bound to grow. As a matter of fact, an increasing number of old people have started to go after high quality and reliable professional healthcare and rehabilitation devices in order to bring more convenience to their daily living. This has in turn propelled the development of the medium to high-end market.
1. Population ageing in China
In 2011, there were 185 million people aged 60 and over in China, accounting for 13.7% of total population, while people aged 65 and over numbered 119 million, accounting for 8.9% of total population. According to the United Nations’ definition, China’s population is ageing. It is projected that by the year 2025 there will be 300 million people aged 60 and over in China. In other words, the senior population is growing by more than 10 million on average a year. Meanwhile, the average life expectancy at birth of Chinese people rose from 71.4 years in 2000 to 74.8 years in 2010.
In the face of population ageing, the State Council’s 12th five-year development plan for the services sector included the development of senior care services, extending from basic home care to health service, assistive devices installation and rehabilitation care. In China, most of the elderly like to spend the last stages of their life at home. According to the new model of senior care service known as “9064” proposed by the Chinese government for implementation in 2020, 90% of the elderly would spend the last stages of their life at home, 6% would spend the last stages of their life with community support (i.e. community resources and services will be provided to them at home to overcome difficulties encountered in daily living), and 4% would live in homes for the aged.
In many families in China, the children would work away from home leaving their aged parents in an empty nest. According to the Blue Book of China’s Society released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there were about 22% of households with elderly couples or seniors living alone in China in 2000, and this figure rose to 31% in 2010. Of which, the proportion of seniors living alone went up from 11% to 16%. As such, the demand for healthcare products assisting the elderly in self-care at home and rehabilitation products helping seniors to improve their physical condition is not to be overlooked.
Meanwhile, as the number of people with chronic illness in the Chinese mainland is also growing, market demand for healthcare and rehabilitation products is diversifying in type and in quantity. According to the figures released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among the people aged over 18 in 2010, 30.6% were overweight and 12% were obese. Of which, the overweight rate and obesity rate of those aged 60 and over were 32.3% and 12.5% respectively. Both overweight and obesity would increase the chance of chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Currently, there are about 94.2 million diabetic patients1 and over 200 million people with high blood pressure2 in China. The majority of people with chronic illnesses have to monitor their physical condition every day in order to adjust the dosage of the medicine to be taken. Hence, the trend of using healthcare and rehabilitation products at home will become more and more common.
2. Senior consumption: more high end and diverse
Compared with economically developed regions and countries such as Europe, the US and Japan, China’s concept of and demand for elderly products are still at their nascent stage. However, increasing knowledge of mainland consumers about the consumption patterns in advanced countries, gradual development of senior services on the mainland and introduction of different kinds of senior healthcare concepts are helping to bolster the demand for elderly healthcare and rehabilitation products.
In the past, the consumption concept of old people in China was “spend a little, save a lot” and “splurge on one's children but not oneself”. But as the education level and financial strength of the elderly rise, they are now more receptive to new ideas and new things and their requirements for quality of life have also gone up. According to figures of China’s population census in 2000, among the urban population, 18% (or 5.25 million people) of the population aged 60 and over had senior high school or above education. In 2010, the figure rose to 25% (or 11.03 million people). The consumer demand of the elderly in China is moving towards higher grade, higher quality and greater diversity. They are interested in trying and buying products specifically targeted at the senior market, especially healthcare and rehabilitation products.
In recent years, the Chinese government has been attaching increasing importance to social welfare, raising the level of social security such as elderly care, medical service, social insurance and minimum standard of living system. Since 2005, the Chinese government has been raising the basic old-age pension of enterprise retirees for eight years consecutively from an average monthly sum of Rmb7003 per person to Rmb1,721 in 2012. This helped to ensure that the living standard of enterprise retirees will remain steady while going up gradually. Some retirees, in addition to receiving old-age pension from the government, would work again. Moreover, they may receive pocket money from their children and have their own savings, thus their purchasing power is strong. According to a survey conducted by the China National Committee on Aging (CNCA), among the urban seniors, 42.8% have savings; and among the senior population aged 60-65, 45% would opt to work again, which means that they would have income apart from their pension. Figures of CNCA show that senior consumption demand in China in 2010 already exceeded Rmb1.4 trillion. It is estimated that by 2050 this figure will reach Rmb5 trillion.
Average annual total income of Chinese residents, by age
|Aged 65 and over||14,279||15,556||17,568||20,233||22,285|
Source: Euromonitor International
3. Rapid development of healthcare and rehabilitation products market
At the early stage of development of elderly healthcare and rehabilitation products in the China market, consumers and even medical personnel had little knowledge about such products. According to Yeh Yun-Hsiu, president of Shunde Power Up International Co Ltd, an enterprise engaged in the production and export of medical devices for over 30 years, the company first entered the domestic market in 2009. At that time, the majority of the elderly in China did not have the habit of using healthcare and rehabilitation products. For instance, they would use an umbrella for a walking stick. But thanks to the education provided by doctors, nurses, rehabilitation therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, the market has gradually taken shape. In the past few years, the mainland market has been developing rapidly with the market size expanding and product grade rising. It is estimated that currently the mainland elderly healthcare products market grows at an annual rate of over 20%.
|Walking sticks: different styles.|
In the past when China’s senior products market was immature, the choice of products on offer was limited with most of the items being low to medium range. This has somewhat kept the purchasing power of the elderly under wraps. But in recent years, as China’s ageing population continues to grow and the healthcare and rehabilitation products market gradually matures, consumers are gaining more product knowledge and are beginning to realise the importance of professional products. For example, they would look for professional walking sticks which offer stronger support and have their ends fitted with non-slip rubber cap to reduce the risk of falling. In fact, an increasing number of elderly people are going after professional healthcare and rehabilitation products which can bring them greater convenience in daily living. As the purchasing power of seniors increases and they go after healthcare and rehabilitation products of higher quality and reliability, the medium to high-end products market is beginning to boom.
4. Consumers’ consideration factors for choosing healthcare products
In view of the increasing demand of the mainland market for medium to high-end healthcare and rehabilitation products, many foreign brands, especially elderly healthcare products from countries and regions where population ageing took place earlier, e.g. Europe, America, Japan and Taiwan, have been flooding into the China market in recent years.
As development of the senior products industry in these countries and regions is mature and the brands and products from different regions have different characteristics and merits, their entry has enriched the choice of products in China’s senior market. For instance, elderly products from Japan, which are diverse in range, meticulous in workmanship and superior in quality, mainly target the medium to high-end of the mainland market. Japan’s TacaoF, which specialises in the manufacture and sale of elderly products, set up Guangzhou TacaoF Trading Co Ltd in Guangzhou and established its own production plants in Dongguan in 2003, manufacturing wheelchairs for export to Japan and Korea. The company began to tap China’s domestic market in 2010. The price of TacaoF wheelchairs made in Dongguan is 30-40% higher than that of domestic brands, but since their wheelchairs have been accredited jointly by United Kingdom Accreditation Service and Japan’s Consumer Product Safety Association, and have been awarded SG quality certification, they have gained the confidence of mainland consumers, who are willing to pay a higher premium for the product. Compared with European and American designs, mainland consumers find the design of Japanese brands more human-centred and more suitable for the physique of Asians.
Taiwan, which joined the ranks of ageing societies in the 1990s, has accumulated rich experiences in developing and designing elderly products. With its industrial foundation built on OEM carrying out OEM for the American, European and Japan markets, Taiwan has mastered the necessary production technology and product design skills. Compared with the elderly healthcare and rehabilitation products manufactured in other countries and regions, Taiwanese products can better meet the needs of mainland elders. This, coupled with the fact that Taiwanese products have good quality assurance and their price is generally lower than that of their European, American and Japanese counterparts, has resulted in the impressive sales performance of Taiwanese elderly products on the mainland in recent years.
|Oxygen generator imported from the US.|
The manufacturing technology for senior products in Europe and America is advanced, especially for various types of meters and home use medical devices, and the safety and accuracy level of their products is high. Some European and American brands already made their way into the China market years ago and many mainland consumers recognise and have high regard for these foreign brands. Where home use medical devices such as blood glucose meter and insulin pump are concerned, Roche of Switzerland and Abbott of the US are brands well-known to mainland consumers. Although the price of imported blood glucose meters is higher (the price of an imported brand is about Rmb500 while that of a domestic brand is about Rmb200), many mainland elders still prefer to buy foreign brands because accuracy of measurement is very important as the meter reading directly affects the dosage of medicine to be taken.
Nevertheless, mainland consumers do not blindly go after imported products. For example, in recent years, the number of consumers using oxygen generators at home is growing because they believe that inhaling pure oxygen can improve their sub-health. An oxygen generator of a domestic brand sells for about Rmb2,000-3,000 while one of an imported brand has a price tag of around Rmb5,000-6,000. According to a mainland salesperson, many consumers would choose domestic brands because, apart from lower prices, their repair and maintenance cost is also less. Imported brands do not only fetch higher repair and maintenance cost but also take longer to repair as the spare parts and components required may have to be ordered from abroad.
|Different models of wheelchair.|
Where living aids are concerned, since both the physical build and living habits of mainland consumers are different to those of foreigners, the design and products of Asian brands normally suit mainland elderly better. Take wheelchairs for example. Since European and American seniors have a larger and taller build, the size and design of wheelchairs of European and American brands may not suit mainland Chinese seniors. If an elder sits in an over-sized wheelchair, his/her body would lean to one side and as time goes by he or she may develop spine curvature disorders. Also, most of the pavements in China do not have an even surface, hence the tyre width of the wheelchair should be larger in order to give greater stability to the wheelchair. Moreover, since the elderly have decreasing finger dexterity, they need aids such as assisted chopsticks when they eat. But European and American brands may not offer such products. As elderly products from Japan and Taiwan are more suitable for mainland Chinese seniors and their prices are lower, they are more popular with mainland consumers.
5. Greater confidence in imported and joint-venture brands
In order to lower production cost and better meet the needs of the mainland market, many foreign brands have set up factories in China. According to a salesperson in the mainland, when consumers purchase elderly products, they would carefully enquire about the country of origin of the brand and the place of manufacture of the product. As the choice of elderly healthcare and rehabilitation products available on the mainland market is becoming diverse, consumers would normally compare the price, place of manufacture, and country of origin of the brand of like products.
Mainland consumers’ overall impression of imported brands is better than that of domestic brands, while their acceptability of joint-venture brands is also higher than that of domestic brands. According to a survey on the Characteristics of the Chinese Middle-class Consumers conducted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in 2012, mainland middle-class consumers tend to use “imported brands” and “joint-venture brands”. Among the respondents, 52% indicate that “I prefer imported products to domestic products, even though the prices are higher”. This is particularly the case with respondents in Shanghai (86%) and Guangzhou (69%). It is probably due to the fact that mainland consumers have more confidence in the quality of imported brands.
Although the products of some international brands are actually made in China, this fact does not weaken the confidence of mainland consumers in the brand. 58% of the respondents indicate that “I now tend to use foreign brands more so than before, even though I know that these foreign brands are produced in the mainland”. Again, respondents in Shanghai (88%) and Guangzhou (78%) agree more with this statement than the overall respondents. Apparently, mainland consumers reckon that under the supervision of foreign companies, factory and staff management is more regulated than that in mainland companies and the quality assurance of their products is also better. Also, 60% of the respondents indicate that “I prefer joint-venture products to domestic products even though they are both made in the mainland”. This shows that mainland consumers are not greatly confident in domestic brands and they would rather choose imported or joint-venture brands where financial conditions allow.
6. Home safety and pain relief: good prospects
In recent years, the choice of elderly healthcare and rehabilitation products in terms of model and feature has increased markedly on the mainland market. However, the market is still dominated by basic products. The fact that mainland consumers have little knowledge about products designed to prevent elderly accidents and ease chronic pain has created business opportunities for Hong Kong companies.
|Non-slip bath chairs.|
Old people often stay at home alone. But since their muscle is weak and their limbs are not agile, they are prone to accidents. With the availability of safety protective products designed to prevent elderly accidents and enhance the self-care ability of seniors, their children now can go to work with peace of mind. Some bathroom assistive devices, such as wall-mounted shower benches, non-slip bath chairs with suction cups, anti-slip mats and grab bars, serve to prevent the elderly from having accidents and sustaining injuries while taking a shower or bath. Also, some adaptive eating utensils, such as eating utensils whose shape can be adjusted according to the mobility of the elders’ hands and bowls with non-slip design which can be fixed on the table, can help to prevent elders from losing grip of the utensil while eating as well as enhance their self-care ability and confidence.
Hong Kong-based Cheuk Yip Plastic Factory Ltd, which manufactures and sells children’s home safety products on the mainland, points out that compared to their European, American and Japanese counterparts, mainland consumers do not attach much importance to home safety products for the elderly. The main reason is that the concept of “preventing” elderly accidents is not popular. Usually people only come to realise the importance of home safety after their aged parents have had an accident. Although some more established homes for the aged in China would install home safety devices specially designed for the elderly, such as bumper pads on the edges of tea tables and cabinet doors as well as rubber bumper protectors which help prevent the seniors from hurting their bodies or heads when slipping, the use of such home safety devices at the homes of most elders is still limited. In the long run, as elderly safety awareness heightens in society and the number of seniors having to take care of themselves increases, the demand for home safety equipment and other living aids will grow.
Old people often think that as their physical conditions deteriorate, it is inevitable to have pains in different parts of their body. So they normally would not actively find ways to ease the pain, which will in turn make matters worse. While there are products on the market which are specifically designed to ease body pains and improve physical conditions, the elderly may not buy them because very often these products have therapeutic effects and the elders are not sure about the usage and efficacy of these products. According to the retail department of pharmacy chain Cai Zhi Lin of Guangzhou, elders often only go to see the doctor when the pain in their body persists and most of them would only buy the pain relieving products recommended by the physician. When the elderly realise that there are various kinds of pain relieving products on the market, they would then take the initiative to look for the right product. As the ageing population grows and the elderly know more about pain relieving products, the demand for such products is bound to increase.
7. Emergence of new sales channels
The principal sales channels of elderly care and rehabilitation products on the mainland include medical equipment stores, pharmacy chains, sports equipment stores, independent counters and online stores, where the product mix and target consumer groups of each are different in characteristics.
Medical equipment stores
Medical equipment stores are the major sales channel of elderly products on the mainland and they are generally located in the neighbourhood of hospitals. Their product mix is rather comprehensive, covering electrical medical equipment, rehabilitation and treatment supplies, assistive and care tools and daily life assistive products. As compared with other sales channels, the healthcare and rehabilitation products sold at medical equipment stores are larger in size and more sophisticated in treatment uses. For example, products like electric nursing beds and cervical vertebra tractor require the guidance of professional salespersons for use directions. Purchasers of these products are mainly patients and seniors that need to receive treatment at hospitals. They generally make the purchase for long-term care and rehabilitation purpose under the recommendation of medical or nursing staff. As these products are the daily necessities of some patients and seniors, sales are brisk. As for some healthcare and rehabilitation products that are relatively simple such as compression stockings and massage devices, they are also available at these medical equipment stores.
There are many time-honoured pharmacy chains on the Chinese mainland. They basically sell Chinese medicines and drugs, and have gained the trust of the seniors. As the medical cost on the mainland is on the high side, most consumers want to enhance their immune system so as to reduce the chance of falling sick. “Precaution” is a very popular concept on the Chinese mainland and thus many pharmacies also carry health products and nutritional supplements. Since old people are experiencing additional minor health problems as time goes by, their demand for healthcare and rehabilitation products on top of medicines and health products are obviously on the rise. In view of this trend, pharmacies have gradually expanded their inventory of elderly supplies to facilitate one-stop shopping by the seniors.
According to the sales department of Jianmin Pharmacy in Guangzhou, there has been a significant growth in the sales of home care and rehabilitation products such as blood glucose meters, hearing aids, walking sticks and oxygen generators in recent years. There is also a stable demand for refills such as the spray nozzles of atomisers and blood glucose test strips. In the past, the customers of pharmacies are mainly seniors. Yet in recent years, more and more working people purchase health food and nutritional supplements at pharmacies as precautions against certain urban diseases or being sub-healthy. As this is the case, the customer groups of pharmacies have expanded to cover the young generation. During traditional festivals, Chinese consumers usually give parents health food or healthcare and rehabilitation products as gifts, thus turning young consumers into target customers of pharmacies also. As old people like to make purchase in the company of their children, the old and young customer ratio of pharmacies is about 6:4 at present.
Although pharmacies and medical equipment stores are the major sales channels of elderly care and rehabilitation products, some brands choose to sell their products at independent counters in department stores or shopping malls so as to build up the professional image of the brands. The Japanese brand of TacaoF has set up its independent counters at Jusco on the mainland. Its products are made in China and its target customers are the mid- to high-end consumers. Still at its initial stage of development on the Chinese mainland, TacaoF only sells walking sticks and wheelchairs at its counters although other elderly products such as clothing and accessories and adaptive eating utensils are also available in Japan. Nevertheless, its online flagship store on the mainland does offer a wider range of products including non-slip bath chairs and adult diapers.
|Various body care products.|
Sports equipment stores
Healthcare and rehabilitation products sold at sports equipment stores are mainly for bone and muscle care purposes, particularly some rehabilitation products for wearing. These products can also assist and correct the body movement and posture of old people as in the case of ankle sleeves and posture correction belts. Besides, some cardiopulmonary testing devices and muscle exercise / reinforcement equipment such as mini jogging machines and exercise bikes are suitable for daily exercise and use by seniors. Although the varieties of elderly products carried by sports equipment stores are limited, their body care products are basically for rehabilitation and treatment purposes.
Online sales business is thriving on the Chinese mainland and some elderly product brands and retail stores have set up online sales platforms to develop their markets through both online stores and physical stores. Some pharmacy chains and medical equipment stores have set up independent online sales platforms such as Guangyao Jianmin (http://www.gyjm.com.cn/) jointly operated by Guangzhou Jianmin Pharmacy and Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, as well as TacaoF flagship store (http://mall.jd.com/index-22293.html) set up at Jindong Mall. Some enterprises point out that although online sales only constitute a very small portion of their overall sales, online stores are expected to become the major sales channel in the days to come. In fact, online sales have become both an important growth pole in the mainland consumer market and a new channel for Hong Kong companies to develop their domestic market. This is because online sales are not only free from geographic or store size constraints, but can also allow round-the-clock operation across the country.
Not many seniors on the mainland will go online to purchase healthcare and rehabilitation products because old people may not know how to shop online. At present, the target groups of online elderly supplies stores are people that buy elderly products for their parents. As young people have the habit to shop online4, they usually purchase some daily consumables for the seniors online, such as the test strips for blood glucose meters and disposable diapers. They will also do some online research to identify suitable healthcare and rehabilitation products for the seniors in their families. After gaining an understanding of the products, they will either take the seniors to physical stores for purchase, or directly make the purchase online for them. Online stores are not only sales platforms, but can also serve as the promotion channel of enterprises and products to convey more product information to consumers. The comments made by buyers regarding the online stores can allow consumers to understand more about the products. In the long run, when this group of online shoppers grow old, they will purchase elderly products online for themselves. So it is now the right time for enterprises and brands to build up their image and clientele at online platforms.
Joint development of multiple sales channels
According to Liu Zilin, president of Guangzhou Create Article Trade Co Ltd, the retail channels of home medical and rehabilitation products have gradually become diversified on the mainland over the past one to two decades. With a view to allowing its products to approach different consumer groups, the company adopts a multi-pronged strategy where the South China region (comprising Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Hainan) relies on pharmacy chains and nationwide sales are entrusted to wholesalers and online stores. From their experience, online sales actually deal a blow to physical stores. For example, customers may make the purchase online with reference to the model number after viewing or trying the product at physical stores, thus affecting the sales of products at physical stores. Guangzhou Create Article Trade proposes that manufacturers may use the strategy of “model control” under which products with different model numbers are distributed to different sales channels. For example, separate model series can be set up specifically for online channels and physical stores such as pharmacy chains and medical equipment stores so as to minimise the direct impact of online sales on physical stores. The growth of online transactions has dealt a blow to the physical stores. For instance, many customers now visit physical stores to look at and try out the products, jot down the model number and then place their orders later with online shops. To mitigate such adverse impact, Liu suggested that manufacturers adopt a strategy to control and make available different products in different distribution channels, say with a series of models specially offered in the online network and other series in the physical stores (such as pharmacy chains and medical equipment stores). By doing so, the impact of online shops on physical stores can be minimised.
8. Means of publicity
In China, the traditional virtue of filial piety is advocated and the young generation will shop for suitable supplies for the seniors in their families. Hong Kong companies should use dual publicity to target at both the young (buyers) and the old (users) and build up the loyalty and confidence of the young consumers (who will also be the prospective users) on the brands and products of elderly supplies.
Advertising at elderly newspapers and magazines
Among various publicity channels, newspaper advertisements may have the greatest influence on the elderly. There are various kinds of elderly publications on the Chinese mainland, such as Elderly Weekly (Laorenbao), World of Seniors (Laoren Shijie) and China Elderly Post (Zhongguo Laoningbao). According to some salespersons, elderly customers usually bring along some newspaper advertisements to the stores for the purchase of specific products. Yet it is important that the advertisements should not be exaggerating so as not to fail the consumers and thereby undermine their trust in the brands.
Talks at community centres
Chinese seniors prefer enjoying their retirement life at home. In recent years, there are many newly constructed day care community centres for the elderly and elderly service organisations that provide services for local seniors. In these centres, there are elderly restaurants, multi-function activity rooms, gardens and other facilities that provide room for elderly recreation and relaxation. Hong Kong companies may cooperate with the community centres to organise talks on healthcare knowledge where professional nursing staff will introduce the functions and uses of various healthcare and rehabilitation products so as to promote the understanding and interest of seniors in these products. Hong Kong companies may arrange to have the seniors try out the products on the spot so that they may personally experience the effects of these products. Hong Kong companies may also hand out publicity leaflets in the community with a view to enhancing the popularity of their brands and products in the elderly circles through the seniors’ referral to their friends and companions.
First-hand experience in using the products
The concept of accident prevention for seniors is not yet popular among mainland consumers, and thus the demand for elderly home safety products is not significant. Hong Kong companies may cooperate with community centres, non-profit-making organisations and homes for the aged by providing and installing elderly home safety products for them such as table corner cushions, anti-slip mats and railings so that the seniors and their children can personally experience and understand the functions of these products. With such additional safety equipment, community centres and homes for the aged can reduce the chance of elderly injury and thus enhance the impression of the seniors and their children on these institutions, achieving win-win results. Similarly, the market of other suitable elderly products such as adaptive eating utensils can also be developed through the first-hand experience of users.
With their children going to work every day, the seniors shop for elderly products at stores by themselves. Since elderly people mostly yearn for care and concern from others, salespersons may chat more with them and recommend some suitable products to them according to their health conditions. It should be noted that seniors are rational consumers who are slow in perception. So the salespersons need to explain the uses and functions of their products to them patiently and let them try on the products so as to enhance their confidence. When purchasing products that are more expensive such as those over Rmb500, some seniors tend to shop for them and subsequently make the actual purchase in the company of their children. As this is the case, even when the seniors have not made the purchase right away after the salespersons’ promotion, the latter should not pursue further and force them to buy. Otherwise, it may arouse their resentment.
Chinese people are known for having strong attachment to their families. Many people work hard for providing a comfortable and affluent life for their families and themselves. According to HKTDC’s report entitled Middle Class Consumers in China, 93% of the respondents are willing to provide the best material life for their families. People will shop for suitable healthcare and rehabilitation products for seniors in their families. As this is the case, advertisements of elderly products may target at the children of seniors. Since young people have the habit of shopping online, Hong Kong companies may publicise their brands and products online through advertising banner, sponsored link, keyword bidding, etc. so as to draw the attention of consumers.
Building up the image of “Hong Kong brand” at exhibitions
Hong Kong companies may take part in various exhibitions to introduce their brands and products to the market on the Chinese mainland. For example, some Hong Kong manufacturers and distributors of elderly products participated in the Style Hong Kong Pavilion in Changchun (September 2012) and Style Hong Kong Show in Nanning (January 2013), both organised by HKTDC. As mainland consumers prefer imported brands, Hong Kong companies may take the opportunity offered by these exhibitions to build up and reinforce the image of “Hong Kong brand” as well as understand the purchasing power and demands of consumers of different mainland regions. During the exhibitions, Hong Kong companies may also identify suitable partners for developing the market on the Chinese mainland through the business matching service provided by the organiser.
9. Oversight of medical devices
The medicine administration authority under the State Council is responsible for the administration of all medical devices across the country and for the enforcement of the classification regulations of medical devices, whereas the health administration authority is responsible for the formulation, adjustment and promulgation of the related regulations.
Hong Kong companies should note that any entity or individual engaged in the research and development, production, operation, use and administration of medical devices on the mainland must comply with the Measures for the Administration of Permits for Medical Device Operating Enterprises. The medical devices stated in these measures refer to the instruments, equipment, apparatus, materials or other articles separately or jointly applied to human bodies for the following expected purposes:
(1) Precaution, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and alleviation of sickness;
(2) Diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and compensation of injury or disability;
(3) Study, replacement and adjustment of anatomy or physiological process; and
(4) Pregnancy control.
10. Advice to Hong Kong companies
As the population on the Chinese mainland is aging and their life expectancy is getting longer, the demand for elderly care and rehabilitation products is on the rise. Besides, with the increase in the number of senior singletons and patients with chronic illnesses, Hong Kong companies should build up the market of elderly home safety and pain relief products. There is a rise in both the education level and the acceptance of new products among the seniors on the Chinese mainland. They now have better financial strength and relatively higher expectation on the quality of life. Even for products manufactured on the mainland, they still prefer those of imported brands or joint-venture brands. Their preference is thus advantageous for Hong Kong companies to develop their own brands or become distributors of foreign brands.
Mainland consumers always have confidence in the products of Hong Kong companies. Many Hong Kong companies are the manufacturers and distributors of foreign healthcare and rehabilitation products which have already passed the certification and inspection of foreign countries and their safety is thus ensured. Hong Kong companies may cooperate with the distributors or dealers on the mainland to introduce their products to the mainland market and provide the related after-sale services, such as product maintenance and servicing, and staff training for marketing or nursing organisations. As mainland authorities will actively develop the service areas of elderly care, the demand for assistive tools and installations, rehabilitation and healthcare products will be growing continuously.
Although old people still prefer to shop at physical stores, online sales and publicity will become the growth pole of the elderly care and rehabilitation products market. Hong Kong companies may also cooperate with community centres, non-profit-making organisations and homes for the aged to organise some talks on healthcare knowledge so as to promote seniors’ awareness on healthcare and rehabilitation products and to enhance the professional image of their brands. The market of elderly products is still at its initial stage on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong companies should therefore seize the opportunity to develop the mainland market.
1 Figures of Beijing Diabetes Association and Chinese Center for Health Education’s diabetes education center
2 National Health and Family Planning Commission
3 Unless otherwise specified, all the currency used in this report is Renminbi.
4 According to Survey on China's middle-class consumers (HKTDC), 83% of the respondents have the habit to shop online.
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