Asians positive on health tech

21 January 2013

SINGAPORE: Asian consumers take an open-minded approach to improving their health with technology but also worry that digital brands can harm their wellbeing, a report from McCann Erickson has shown.

The advertising agency's report, conducted by Truth Central, its intelligence unit, found that just over half (54%) of respondents agree that "technology is making us healthier". The poll was taken among 7,000 consumers in seven nations, including the US, UK, China and Japan.

Results reflect the increasing popularity of digital health and wellness services, including health brands' official websites and apps.

Amar Urhekar, executive vice president of McCann Health Asia Pacific, said views on health were shifting, with a majority (66%) now looking to medical professionals to help them with illness prevention as well as cures. This attitude could potentially open the door for brands that provide health benefits.

"Like all things associated with technology and social media, I believe consumers expect brands to be honest and upfront with them, and want to see the efforts taken to 'keep them well'," Urhekar added.

"The choice for marketeers is if they will constructively and conclusively offer wellness engagement – be it mental, physical, spiritual or even financial. The true opportunity for wellness now substantially lies far over and above the standard health and fitness companies."

The McCann report also indicated some regional nuances in the way Asian consumers view health and wellness.

Chinese respondents were revealed to be particularly scared of getting older, with only 7% saying they liked the thought of their own ageing, versus a global average of 26%.

People in both China and Japan were also found to be placing a greater emphasis on physical fitness than the global norm.

Dave McCaughan, director of Truth Central for Asia, added: "In countries like Japan where literally dozens of people turn 100 every day, there are always stories of extreme physical prowess among the aged."

But global consumers, including Asians, also expressed concern that their use of tech brands such as Facebook was leading to a more sedentary – and, therefore, less healthy – lifestyle.

In all, one in four of 18 to 24-year-old men polled expressed this concern, along with 17% of young women.

Data sourced from Truth Central; additional content by Warc staff