target Chinese travelers outside of China

Daxue Talks transcript #41: Medical tourism in China as a booming business

In this episode of Daxue Talks Olivier Verot, a digital marketing specialist, talks about medical tourism in China as a booming business.

Full transcript below:

How can you promote medical tourism online in China?

It is a very good question. Online, it is extremely effective for medical tourism. I just explain what medical tourism is. It is all the tourism linked to health outside China. For example, if I need to go to another country for surgery if I have a health problem and want to cure it abroad. All these are under medical tourism; people who travel for medical reasons. In China, it is extremely developed because you have a lot of rich people that don’t trust the Chinese medial system and over trust hospitals in Western countries. There are a lot of countries where hospitals have a great reputation. For example, Israel or Switzerland as well as many other countries in Europe. They are extremely famous for doing surgery. If it is for esthetics and you want to modify your body, then Korea or Thailand are popular. Online, it is really effective. Most people when searching has a problem finding information and will thus search online. Most of the time they’ll use the Baidu search engine to try to find solutions to their problems or try to find information. When you need to go to another country, you need to read a lot of information to understand how it works, what are the costs, etc. It is an extremely complex problem so people will search for hundreds of hours to understand how it works.

Promotion on Baidu is primordial. After, everything is made from reputation. When these rich people are going abroad, they will not compare the price but compare the best services of hospitals and clinics. They will compare one clinic to the others to find to best one. Also, everything is linked to social media. You need to communicate, keep people informed and reach more people via social media. It also can be effective to drive more traffic to your company. Again, if you speak about medical tourism, there are a lot of restrictions. For instance, you cannot do an advertisement for Baidu. Most of the platforms will refuse the adds since everything has to be organic. That is their criteria. So, you are limited in terms of adds. You cannot use adds on WeChat because you are not registered in China. Everything has to be organic, so it takes more time in general.

What scandals do healthcare companies need to be aware of before they enter China?

The subject is really sensitive. Every two or three years there one or two big scandals that occur. I will explain two of them. The first one is the scandal of Baidu. Basically, they were selling adds to fake hospitals that were curing cancer. It was a really big scandal. There were fake treatments. So, people were looking for a cure, found these advertisements and paid for treatment and died later on because they were not treated. One person discovered. So, a lot of Chinese got aware of these issues and the government put a really strong punishment on Baidu to limit advertisement that is too aggressive on these fields

The second scandal was also really bad. It is about vaccination, especially for kids, so, in several hospitals, one or two companies supply all the vaccines for the kids. One of them killed kids and hurt millions of mum in China because they were forced to buy a certain vaccine for their kids and discover that the company providing the products were not doing it properly. It is a kind of bad atmosphere around the Chinese company and created a bad buzz. It was also linked to corruption. This scandal reinforces the idea that in the west, the medical. 

The sector is safer, cleaner although more expensive.

Does it make sense to target Chinese travelers outside of China to communicate one healthcare product?

It can make sense for companies. So, if you are a seller, all these products in retail travel, in the retail stores and want to attract people, then it can make sense. It is a strategy usually used in luxury. When it comes to health, people will do the first purchase but won’t buy as much, so you are investing a lot of resources to gain these customers but financially, it doesn’t make a lot of sense unless people can buy the product online later. So, it can be good to let clients discover the product, but in the healthcare industry, most of the time the product has a limited value, you won’t make money on the first purchase. You will only make money with further purchases or recommendations. You need to be sure that they can find the product when they go back to their country. Otherwise, you will only do one sale and that is not interesting. 

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