Although medical aesthetics – which largely incorporate cosmetic treatments – continues to prove a thriving market across the world, the Chinese market is uniquely rich with opportunity. For one thing, consumers are much younger (under 36), whereas markets in other nations are dominated by older customers.
Even more exciting is the industry’s annual growth rate – China’s domestic industry growth is expected to be much higher than the global industry’s. “As a young company, our culture is bold,” says White Wang, President of Allergan China. “Some companies in China have been here for more than 30 years already. These organisations have become much more mature. We’re different. We feel young, so we’re much faster.”
Allergan entered China 10 years ago, with two areas of focus in eye care and medical aesthetics in a growing market. White praises both the selection of quality products and the excellent team supporting those products. At the same time, he says there’s much to do in developing and retaining talent.
As a result, Allergan China has partnered with a top business school to educate talent with a mini-MBA program; set up a workshop called ARISE, where frontline managers can get an opportunity to develop by working in small groups to tackle real challenges found by themselves in the company; and established cross-function and cross-region rotational programs.
Efforts like these, says White, have totally reversed a high turnover rate to a historic low, with engagement conversely high. Still, as a high growth market, China’s medical aesthetics business is facing some fundamental challenges, and in particular, the significant gap between consumer needs and the supply of injection physicians, and underdeveloped consumer education.
So physician education has become Allergan China’s focus, and is the responsibility of a dedicated team at Allergan Medical Institute (AMI). The Allergan Innovation Center was launched in Chengdu in April this year, which is a new milestone for the education of physicians.
By leveraging the Center, the AMI team is developing in-classroom and online courses to educate medical aesthetics professionals, offering 110 training courses with room for 3,400 doctors nationwide this year.
Another pain point is the relatively low consumer awareness of medical aesthetics in China. A global survey shows the medical aesthetics’ penetration rate in China is only one sixth of that in the US.
“The need for comprehensive, accessible information and education is clearly crucial in bringing service providers and customers together. However, there is a deficit of such information in China, so it’s important to partner with leading digital companies and help them do it in a professional way,” White explains.
“We see ourselves as pioneers who can work together with digital companies.”
Actually, Allergan China has already taken action and seen results. “For example, we work with AliHealth (Alibaba’s health affiliate) to develop new business models to support the growth of the medical aesthetics market for China,” says White. “Our portfolio is unique, and we see ourselves as pioneers who can work together with digital companies.”
When talking about how to select and collaborate with partners, White emphasises the importance of building a healthy and sustainable ecosystem. “We first look for full integrity and aligned philosophies,” White. says.
“Then we don’t just think about ourselves. We see ourselves as part of the whole picture. We are trying to build an ecosystem.
“Finally, we want to build a win-win relationship. We understand our partners, we know what they need, and we openly share information with them. In the end, we can create value for both.”
With his nearly 20 years of experience in the industry, White’s confidence in Allergan is far from baseless, and the healthcare company will continue to capitalise on the rapidly growing market.
“Globally, we have numerous products already launched, but in China, a lot of products like these haven’t yet hit the market,” White says. “Over the next five years, we’ll continue launching these quality products and bring value to patients in China.”