China Fertility Outbound Tourism Craze

The number of Chinese women who are traveling abroad to undergo fertility treatment has skyrocketed in recent years, and the trend is only expected to grow. The idea of going on a vacation while undergoing medical treatments can sound like an appealing proposition for some people, but there are considerations before taking such a drastic step. There are various factors worth considering when deciding if outbound fertility tourism is right for you: medical costs, cost of living abroad vs at home, language barriers, and safety concerns. In order to attract Chinese couples seeking fertility treatment abroad, you’ll have to address those concerns and convince them that your clinic is the best choice for them. To do so, you’ll have to invest in promoting your services in China using locals channels and localizing your content. In this post, we will have a look at China’s fertility outbound tourism market, the reasons why these kinds of services are such in high demand, and finally, we will share with you our best tips to conquer this market.

What drives the Fertility tourism in China?

The 1 child Policy and its long term consequences

In 2016, the Chinese government put an end to the famous one-child policy introduced 30 years earlier. While the mass of the population may have appeared to be an asset during the Maoist era, it is now perceived both as a constraint (housing, food, employment) and as an argument in international competition (mirage of the huge Chinese market, abundance of labor). 

Efforts to rapidly reduce the birth rate have significantly slowed the rate of population growth, with serious long-term social consequences: an imbalance in the sex ratio at birth with an increase in infant mortality in favor of boys, and an aging population with 487 million people aged 60 and over in China in 2020.  According to sinologist demographer Isabelle Attané, “China is characterized by an exceptionally high proportion of men in its population; with more than 106 men per 100 women, it has become the most “male” country in the world.

Today there are no more restrictions, but birth rate keep plumeting

Faced with an aging population, China has in recent years dismantled its so-called “one-child policy”, which it introduced in the 1970s. Since the end of 2015, all couples have been allowed to have a second child. But many Chinese people find the education of a second child too expensive. In the end, the problem still does not seem to be solved, but it is no longer as worrying as it was before. The number of births fell in 2017 in China: a total of 17.23 million babies were born that year, compared to 17.86 million in 2016. Now China aims to encourage large families. 

Beijing effort to improve China’s birth rate

In mid-August of 2019, a newspaper affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, the Xinhua Daily, published an article that caused a bomb to go off in China. The article by two economists from Nanjing University proposes to introduce a tax on couples under 40 who have only had one child, while the one-child policy has been lifted in order to encourage births again. Then, the funds raised would be used to subsidize parents who choose to have a second child. After the article was published, many Chinese expressed their reaction with skepticism and derision on China’s most popular microblogging site: Weibo “So now I get a fine because I’m single? “one Internet user got angry or “Not so long ago, we were forced to have an abortion and now I have to pay for a second child I didn’t even have,” squealed another.

The main driving factor for the industry is China’s Fertility problem 

According to the Chinese Population Association, more than 40 million Chinese people have fertility problems, representing 12.5% of people of childbearing age. The rate was only 3% 20 years ago. The first test-tube baby from mainland China was born in 1988 at the Centre of Reproductive Medicine at the Third School of Clinical Medicine at Peking University, where about 1,500 patients wait to see a reproductive expert every day. According to Qiao Jie, Director of the center, many working women delay their marriage and childbearing in favor of their professional careers, but once they decide to have a child, their fertility has deteriorated.

The ideal age for a woman to have children is between 20 to 35 years old at the latest, beyond this age, fertility and the quality of pregnancy can be altered. However, more and more Chinese women are working and they prefer to prioritize their professional development over procreation. In addition, there are ever-increasing infertility problems in China. According to Guo Yihong, Deputy Director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the Zhengzhou University Hospital in Henan Province, more than 150,000 patients are reported to have received treatment at the medical center in 2011. According to experts, living conditions can also cause infertility, such as urban pollution, formaldehyde in new furniture, and the radiation from everyday electronic devices.

The fertility market in China: a market of the future 

In total, China represents more than 40 million potential customers for the fertility market. Two years ago, the Chinese domestic market for fertility services reached $670 million. By 2022, this figure should stand at USD 1.5 billion, more than double. China’s In Vitro Fertilization market is expected to be more than US$ 2.8 Billion by 2025. . For the economic and financial information site Bloomberg, medical reproductive assistance will increasingly be a “flourishing market” in China.

Clinics were already offering artificial insemination, egg freezing, and embryo freezing services to foreigners from Southeast Asia and southern California. But with the end of the one-child policy, it is the Chinese women themselves who want a second or third child, the business paper explains. This will encourage investors, foreign and local companies to open more clinics. Moreover, another danger is emerging: the population is aging and not renewing itself enough.

Why do Chinese Couple go abroad for fertility treatments?

Chinese fertility tourism, a segment that is already a reality, has been strengthened by China’s decision to lift restrictions on family size. Older women, with one or two children, adds to the list of couples facing fertility issues. Other factors come into play, for Chinese couples who can afford to go abroad:

  • The freezing of ovocytes, embryos, or gestational surrogacy is strictly prohibited, as is the determination of the sex of a child before birth.
  • Not to mention the restrictions for single women, unmarried couples, and homosexual couples who are forced to seek an alternative outside the country. Many are now turning to clinics abroad to escape Chinese legislation.
  • The third point being, that the infrastructure in China for this type of services is still lagging especially compare to the demands.

Those reasons profit foreign fertility clinics

In Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and even Russia, more and more Chinese are seeking the services of foreign clinics to help them have a second or third child. According to France-Presse Agency, in some clinics specializing in vitro fertilization in Thailand, four out of five clients are Chinese couples. Currently, companies based abroad are benefiting greatly from this. In 2016, Chinese patients spent 7.400 billion Chinese yuan (about $1.1 billion) on fertility treatment tourism abroad. This is relatively close to what the financial forecasts had announced for the Chinese domestic market in 2022.

What are the opportunities and challenges for foreign fertility clinics ?

Among the numerous destinations that are willing to enter this market, Malaysia particularly stands out. In order to answer the demand, the Malaysian government has made efforts to attract Chinese medicals tourists, introducing new e-visa directed towards them. This visa allows Chinese tourists to reside in Malaysia for a period of 30 days, however, the period can be extended if documents are provided by a doctor to illustrate the need for more time.

Yet a problem arises, despite Malaysia’s high-quality hospitals and clinics, it appears that Chinese citizens tend to view Malaysia’s level of development in a bad light compared to that of China… Quite ironic when considering that Malaysia’s HDI is higher than China’s ( United Nations’ Human Development Index also known as HDI – HDI utilizes a variety of metrics to rate a country’s economic and social development, including life expectancy, education, and per capita income). As of 2019, China was ranked 85th among all countries in terms of HDI, while Malaysia was ranked 62nd.

Trusts issues do not apply only to Malaysian clinics. Chinese consumers do not accord their trust easily and medical professionals will have to put the effort into working on their reputation if their want to profit from this market.

Popular destinations for Chinese couples looking into IVF abroad

The main downside of fertility treatment in China: the lack of clinics and hospitals, restrictive regulation for non-married women. When unavailable in China these procedures can be done without problem in other countries for those who want a child but cannot do so in China. Traveling abroad for fertility treatments may be an option if they’re not eligible for treatment in China.

Besides Thailand and Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada have also shown interest in the Chinese IVF market. To Chinese citizens, these countries are potential IVF hubs. For Canada and the United States, Chinese medical tourism regarding birth services is definitely not a new phenomenon indeed the United States has been a popular fertility tourism destination, especially for tourists from developed nations. But why are Chinese people traveling to other countries for fertility services? Because compared to other nations the aforementioned countries tend to have fewer restrictions regarding fertility treatments than in China.

How to attract Chinese Medical tourists to your Fertility Clinic? 

First Steps Baidu + Mandarin Website:

One of the most cost-effective ways to reach Chinese consumers is through advertising on search engines. Baidu, which controls nearly 80% of the market share in China, should be your first stop for marketing strategies and techniques that appeal to a wide range of demographics.

If you want to succeed in the Chinese market, it pays to be as visible and trusted there as possible. Key SEO strategies include keyword optimization, backlinks, and content sharing – these are some of your best tools for generating quality traffic.

Promote your Fertility Clinic on Chinese Social Media

In China, the importance of social networks cannot be overlooked if we want to conduct an effective marketing campaign to reach Chinese consumers.

WeChat: The first information channel and means of communication preferred by the Chinese. With this application, you can do almost anything. 94% of Chinese users who have WeChat use it every day. They visit it on average 10 times a day. They can send messages and call their contacts. But also pay directly with the application, in stores, or online. Sending documents to WeChat is now more convenient than using your mailbox.

Weibo: Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter (in fact the platform offers many more services than Twitter). Chinese social networking has reached more than 431 million active users per month in 2018. Weibo mobilizes communities that regularly open debates and uses the site to learn about all kinds of topics. All brands wishing to establish themselves in China must now have their Weibo account to communicate with the Chinese community.

Zhihu.com: Zhihu is an online Q&A community. It is built on a friendly and conscientious atmosphere, connecting elites from all sectors of activity. They all share their expertise, experience, and knowledge on various topics, thus providing a continuous flow of quality information for the community. Brands can use the research and answers on Zhihu to better understand their consumers’ interests. By creating an account on the platform, they can interact directly with their community.

Partnerships with KOLs: To attract Chinese tourists, it is necessary to build partnerships with Chinese platforms and KOLs (Key Opinion Leader). Partnering with Chinese bloggers is a great way to get the word out about your company in China. By choosing the right influencers you can directly target a specialized audience that is very receptive to the advice of these bloggers whom they admire and in whom they have great confidence.

In addition to a strong presence on Chinese social networks such as WeChat and Weibo, some players now offer payment options via Chinese tools (WeChat Pay and Alipay) 

Mobile payment: The ability to support payment services such as UnionPay or Alipay is also important. A report by Nielsen and Alipay, entitled “Trends in Chinese mobile payment in outbound tourism in 2018”, revealed that the average budget of Chinese tourists traveling abroad increased to over $6,026 per person in 2018. In addition, some 69% of tourists used mobile payment when shopping abroad, 4% more than the previous year.

WE ARE DIGITAL EXPERTS IN CHINA

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YOUR CAMPAIGN ON WECHAT OR WEIBO

Creating and managing your official account requires specific steps. The complexity of the Chinese Internet ecosystem makes it difficult to use WeChat and create mini-programs for foreign companies. We must be able to create content adapted to Chinese consumers. Our teams are made up of Chinese and international employees who are responsible for communicating the values and information of your brand in this market. We ensure interaction with your consumers in order to create and build a real community around your brand.

E-REPUTATION AND BRANDING

The Chinese Patient attaches great importance to the reputation of a brand, especially when it matters to health. but they do not trust them much because of the many problems of transparency and counterfeiting. Online branding and reputation have become essential for the development of brands in the Chinese market. We provide solutions adapted to your project to achieve the expected performance.

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