Healthier Mindset for Well-Being and  Health

Columbia University Impact Investing Case Study Project (IICSP)

                                                Jingjing Liu

                                                  May, 2021

I. INTRODUCTION

Driven by a vision of promoting Good Health and Well-Being, our business, under the mantra of "Doing Well by Doing Good,” acts according to well-established business practices, while intersecting with our goal of producing social impact. For too long the importance of psychological well-being, in regard to remaining fit and healthy, has been swept under the rug. People have become so obsessed with obtaining a “photoshopped” figure that they seem to be willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve it. But do the means really justify the ends? Once the process is over, is their mental state as strong as their abs? These are the kinds of questions raised by society’s seemingly ignorant attitude towards the importance of mental health. It is into this context this business plans to plant itself, in the hope of making real systematic change.  This Business Plan advocates the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) ratified by the United Nations: "Ensuring healthy lifestyles and promoting the well-being of people of all ages.” In short, the very heart of this business centers around the rhetoric and the surrounding discourse promoted by this SDG.

This proposal confronts current social concerns pertaining to Health and Well-Being and introduces readers to viable and sustainable solutions. Much of the development of this proposal is based on an existing business, namely the Hunan Echin Health Management Company Ltd. More details on this company will be given later in this document; however, for the clarity of purpose in this introduction, I have outlined the company’s five business segments:

 

1) Health Management

2) Chronic Disease Management

3) Bio-Medicine

4) Traditional Chinese Medicine

5) Health Care for the Elderly 

 

Taking these into consideration, this company plans to use this structure as a foundation, while integrating the ideas supported in the third SDG throughout its framework. By giving this successful existing business a clear sense of direction, I believe a vast amount of people can finally receive education on a topic which is so vital, yet so ignored. This new focus will be facilitated by the hiring of specialist psychologists and wellness consultants, and these experts in their respective fields will focus their service on promoting the importance of a healthy mind in the quest for a healthy body. In essence, this will be a kind of “Gym for Well-Being.”

The following business plan will elaborate on the principles already outlined, on why we intend to develop our business in a new model, and on how we are planning to execute it. 

 

II. KEY WORDS

The 3rd SDG: Good Health and Well-Being

 

III. BASIC CONCEPT

It is scientifically proven that "stress causes illness and diseases,” declares Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D., a cell biologist who received the 2009 Goi Peace Award. In contemporary society, especially in emerging countries where economic growth was prioritized, ethics were neglected, and consciousness was undermined by a profusion of unsolicited "advice" from advertisers and business owners. Information overloads and the manipulation of truth have led to anxiety becoming rife. The majority of us, the audience within the system receiving stimulus passively, are made to question ourselves, as we fear not being "good enough,” "slim enough,” or even "likeable.” That perfect figure in commercials has sensitized us to our flaws, as we chase the imperfect idea of perfection. While admitting anxiety can help induce motivation to initiate improvements, this is not healthy and therefore not a viable solution: chronic stress generated by fear erodes good health and well-being, physically and psychologically. Something has to change. 

 

IV. MARKET ANALYSIS

Attracting potential consumers via new media has become the new normal. Internet traffic dominates the majority of people's attention and basically dictates public perceptions. This being considered, marketing via new media seems like the most effective strategy for business owners. 

Up to Dec., 2020, statistics have shown, the number of internet users in China has reached 989 million, as reported by CNNIC (China Internet Information Centre), of which 986 million are mobile internet users. The data shows that 70.4% of the Chinese population is actively using the internet (at least one hour of usage per week). Among this demographic, over half is under the age of 40, as students represent a vast proportion of internet users. Staggeringly, one fifth of the global internet market is Chinese. 

While this astonishing fact has given rise to an increase in internet marketing in China, unfortunately some business owners choose to advertise unethically for greater profit. For example, a "perfect" figure is commonly used in commercials selling slimming products. This sad trend generates sales from increased stress for larger-sized people. Though that approach might work in terms of financial returns, it completely subverts the SDG supported and outlined in this proposal. 

From my practice and observation in the field of Health Management, especially in Weight Control, I was able to see the industry through an internal lens. I discovered that, rather worryingly, there were only a minimal amount of competitors in the industry that were willing to relinquish the expedient measure of generating profit, for a genuine service promoting authentic healthy lifestyle consulting. While at times it may be laborious and require changing stale outdated practices that have been followed for far too long, it is crucially ethical and sustainable and this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. The good news is, that leaves room for us to play.

The following plan will comply with the core of my beliefs, not only through my past experiences in business practice but also my analysis of the market and understanding of Chinese internet users. Our marketing strategy is based on consciousness and empathy. Instead of selling anxiety, we abide by ethics in emphasizing a positive mindset promoting a healthier look, figure, and lifestyle. 

 

V. MARKET SEGMENTATION

Demographic Characteristics:

  • Gender: 

Mainly females 

  • Age: 

All ages, from 9 years-old to the elderly

  • Attributes: 

Health-oriented / high expectations with low commitment

  • Social roles: 

Students, workers, full-time moms, business owners, retired workers

  • Socioeconomic status: 

Able and willing to afford RMB 1000-2000 per month for health    treatments and consulting 

Demographic Segmentation:

Internet users in China can be classified into the following categories:

1) Students

  • Elementary School ~ High School Students

        who need services about Physique Guidance, Obesity Prevention, 

       Nutrition Counseling, Psychological Counseling

  • College Students

        who need services about Physique Improvement, Adequate Nutrition,

      Diet Counseling, and Psychological Counseling

2) Office Workers

  • Young Adults

 who need services about Physique Body Building/Management, Adequate Nutrition and Diet Counselling and Psychological Consulting & Workshops

  • Middle-Aged People

 who need services about Physique Management, Chronic Diseases Management, Adequate Nutrition and Diet Counselling, Elder Life Planning and Psychological Consulting & Workshops

  • the Elderly

        those who need services about Health Management, Adequate Nutrition and Diet Counseling, Elder Life Planning, Elder Care and, Psychological Support

Geographic Segmentation:

Internet users in China are scattered all around the country. In light of the powerful big data bases in the country, with a clear segmentation geographically, we can pinpoint exact audience location, steering traffic in the process of online marketing.

Despite the fact that internet users in the country sprawl from suburbs to the central cities, the target market can be narrowed down to distinct gradations: first-tier cities like Shanghai or Beijing; second- and third-tier cities like Changsha, Xian, or Chongqing; and even more remote areas like forth-tier cities and county towns. User portraits of respective geographic destinations can be illustrated as a reference:

First-tier cities target audiences: 

Gold-collar workers who earn a comfortable living and are actively paying attention to retaining an “elite image,” slim-fit and healthy. However, rather than spending time on research for suitable diets, or sweating in fitness clubs, they would prefer to accredit professionals to be in charge of their health management, nutrition/diet planning, and psychological well-being.

White-collar workers who might take supplements to maintain balanced nutrition, regularly work out and make time for psychological well-being, participating in yoga, meditation, or consultancy services.

College students who believe in science and the interconnection of mind and body.

Existing Business

Hunan Echin Health Management Company Ltd. was founded in March, 2020. It operates in five areas: Health Management, Chronic Disease Management, Bio-Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Health Care for the Elderly. Currently, the company has allocated most of its resources into the first two themes-- Health Management and Chronic Disease Management. 

The center of its practice is aligned with the country’s mission to create “Healthy China 2030,” hoping to solve people’s health needs, creating healthy, creative, and productive lives. 

We have been reaching our target group through marketing via phenomenal social media apps such as TikTok and Toutiao. Additionally, by piggybacking on Hunan Echin Health Management’s existing business and media links, this business has an ideal starting point due to such elevated exposure.

 

VI. SWOT ANALYSIS (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) 

 

Strengths

Management Know-How

Strong Sales Department

Local Government Resources

Existing ties with business and media infrastructure 

 

Weaknesses

Shortage in Product Research & Development 

Homogenized Products vs. Individual Differences

Opportunities

Despite a huge effort to improve it, the status quo of citizens’ health on a national level in China is a cause for real concern. Environmental pollution exacerbates the accretion of sub-health problems. Food safety is still an issue, while the citizens’ health literacy is in doubt. In response to such realities, the government has taken actions. 

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a meeting on August 26, 2016, deliberating and approving the outline of the "Healthy China 2030" plan. “Health is a necessary requirement for all-round human development, a basic condition for economic and social development, an important symbol of a prosperous nation and a strong and prosperous country, and a common pursuit of the broad masses of people,” President Xi announced in the meeting.

The formulation and implementation of the Healthy China 2030 Plan is a major measure to implement the guiding principles of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee and to protect people's health. It is of great significance to completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and accelerating socialist modernization. At the same time, it is an important measure for China to actively participate in global health governance and fulfill its commitment to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

1) Realization of Health Consciousness in the national information system

2) Relieving torments from comparisons and feeling "unworthy"

3) Innovating in an unstructured industry

Threats

Unregulated Industry 

Scandals  

Public Relations Crisis 

Lack of Consumer Confidence

Scenarios & Solutions:

In terms of providing weight loss products, along with daily consulting services (one of our signature packages), our endeavor may be ineffective due to the fact that individuals react differently to the stimulus and a PR crisis might occur. 

In consideration of potential problems that could affect the business and our image, scenarios designed from past cases will be hypothesized and scrutinized through the eyes of PR professionals. Furthermore, coping strategies will be developed with these scenarios and their relevant solutions taught to staff through training programs with a sensitive and dynamic pedagogic approach. 

 

VII. BUSINESS MODEL

Altering the business model of a company is like steering the wheel of a car: it directs you to your destination by adjusting to the circumstances. Although it alters course from time to time, the core value persists. We take an ethical approach, notwithstanding that we still seek profits. 

In relation to business, marketing is the road to profit-making. Resources were allocated to pave the way: in 2019, Echin spent RMB 60 million on advertising. Unquestionably, how we extol our products and services correlates with our sales index. We must promote our products clearly and energetically. However, I believe that in order to attract customers who accept and pay for the “pledges” we make, we must provide the authentic service that comes after. The point here is to affirm the current condition of our audience who tries to strive for better.

It is safe to say that the mainstream of modern advertisements, especially in health-related product-selling, and the majority of content propagated through mass/social media is mostly abstracted from reality. Advertisers have successfully ingrained images of a refined version of "average people" into the minds of the public. This “pollution of head space” can devastate people's self-perception. Business owners deem it a commercial opportunity, but the fervent desire of needing to be slimmer, happier, or better-looking actually kills happiness for many people. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” With such a powerful idea fresh in our minds, it perhaps comes as no surprise that we believe the direction of public perception needs to be shifted. 

 

Indeed, selling anxiety works. People purchase mostly because that behavior actually compensates for the failure to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, if a product labels itself as an antidote to swelling caused by the habitual drinking of alcohol and that symptom happens to ail you, rather than going behind the scientific reasoning and dealing with the cause as they should, many people are happy to simply pay for the product that claims to cure you, without needing to make an effort. As much as we hate to admit it, our instincts respond to complex situations through avoidance to deal with the root of the complexity. In this case, purchasing a product sounds easier than quitting drinking. Business owners are surely aware of the efficiency of such a concept.

Although there are shortcuts, should we prioritize profit at the expense of ethics? If so, the business will not be sustainable. With that being said, we insist to adhere to our corporate philosophy: “Addressing the health-related needs of the nation, in order to structure a healthy and better life." 

To sum up, we offer services and products committing to help facilitate a healthier mindset. We assert that accepting ourselves fully as we really are is the beginning for adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Necessities

By defining the necessities of the business, we remind ourselves of the underlying motives of why we started such a business, in light of the ESG principles: Environmental, Social, and Governance, which we combine to catalyze the expansion of the already-rapidly growing Global Health and Wellness Market. 

The statistics have shown, to this day, that the number of diagnosed chronic disease patients has reached 260 million. Moreover, 85 percent of the total mortality from diseases is caused by chronic diseases. That is a tremendous amount of people who die from simply neglecting to adopt a healthy way of living. Perhaps this statement is unfair and they have never been educated on what actually comprises a healthy way of living. Either way, we at Echin Health Management have undertaken our due obligations as a leader and innovator in pursuit of the common good, propagating authoritative knowledge towards healthier minds and bodies. 

Feasibility

To an extent, a venture capital-backed company with a fully-functioning human resources structure, operating in a field of business which is repeatedly supported and prioritized by the central government and also globally, is moving in the right direction.

Guided by the third SDG and exercising the "Healthy China 2030" plan, we plan to execute our business accordingly. 

Strategy for Success

With the knowledge I plan to equip myself with as a student majoring in psychology, I am confident that I will elevate this incipient business idea into a practical business strategy. This existing business I personally co-founded and handed to my partner for now inspires me and guides my determination to enhance my education at a leading US university. The edge of possessing a solid academic foundation will be the strategy for the goal of turning a dream into action.

 

Unique Selling Point (USP)

Psychological awareness combined with health-related facilitating services

 

Joint Resources

Hunan Echin Health Management Company Ltd.