The Place of Meal Placement Rises in Struggles and Competition
Though obesity might be a trending topic, the meal replacement market is yet to be determined. With 6% obesity population, the portion of the overweight that will employ meal replacement to lose weight is yet to be determined.
On April 1st, Ping An Good Doctor (平安好医生) announced the launch of the brand Shoumanfen (瘦满分, meaning Lean Full Score) under its Fitness Center (减肥中心). The brand aims to provide healthy meal placement for groups in need.
Ping An Good Doctor is listed company in Hong Kong Exchange and an online healthcare service provider. However, its performance during the past four years is widely questioned by the mass. From 2015 to 2018, the net losses are CNY 324 million, CNY 758 million, CNY 1,002 million, and CNY 913 million respectively.
As mentioned earlier, Ping An Good Doctor’s 2018 revenue from healthcare products increased from 2017’s 17.2% to 22.0% of the total revenue. In September 2018, Ping An Good Doctor opened its Fitness Center in its app to provide weight loss solutions. The meal replacement brand Shoumanfen belongs to Fitness Center and provides diet solution which is a critical component in weight loss management.
Shoumanfen only has protein bars, but the healthcare store in Ping An Good Doctor provides other varieties of meal replacement products or food supplements. Weight loss is a trending topic in China concerning the yearly-growing obesity rate. The obese population (BMI >= 30) in China was 6.2% in 2016, which nearly doubled the number in 2006.
Due to the culture and the awareness of a healthy lifestyle, the obesity issue has aroused attention. KeepLite, the healthy food brand of the home workout trainer app, Keep, provides diet solutions to those who are in need. Comparing to Shoumanfen, KeepLite has more options for buyers but still very limited.
Keep’s workout trainer nature determines that its users, who want to keep fit through the workout, are ideal customer pool for healthy food and even meal placement market. Similar to selling paints and brushes next to an art school, Keep’s efficiency in turning Keep users to KeepLite buyers will be easier than Ping An Good Doctor’s.
Ping An Good Doctor is an integrated healthcare management app, but most users come for certain health solutions such as the online clinic, online pharmacy, remote consultation, and so on. The weight loss identity is comparatively weaker than its clinic-alike and pharmacy-alike functions. But Shoumanfen’s target customers are those who suffer from overweight or obesity, the ambiguous orientation position of Ping An Good Doctor in weight loss fails to build a clear image for its target customers.
Users cannot link the image of Ping An Good Doctor to fitness due to the services provided in the past and its name, and this hinders Ping An Good Doctor to direct potential customers who need weight loss diet management to its healthy food store page.
The Shoumanfen protein bar has been on for a while, but Ping An Good Doctor released the brand news. As indicated by the sold number in JD.com, protein bars were sold more than 1,000 packs in March. Will the new brand make Ping An Good Doctor’s financial performance better? The meal replacement market is still very young in China and there is no conclusion about the performance of either Shoumanfen or KeepLite. But if Ping An Good Doctor intends to make Shoumanfen big, it must map weight loss to itself or include weight loss into its image just like Chinese will first think of insurance if they hear Ping An.