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Live streaming platforms are dominating the China‘s OTC & Food Supplements market

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The Chinese medical sales market, one of the largest in the world, is experiencing rapid growth. China’s ex-factory OTC sales are expected to reach US$37.91 billion in 2035, at a CAGR of 8.1%. Explore the endless opportunities of this growing Chinese market.

Live streaming platforms have become increasingly popular in China over the past five years, with people buying food supplements and OTC drugs from online platforms. There are a few reasons for the popularity of live-streaming platforms: 

  • Bonuses and discounts: Sponsors often sell products at a cheaper price during live selling sessions or offer other incentives such as buy-one-get-one-free deals. 
  • Real-time interactions: Live selling allows buyers to interact with the hosts and other viewers in real-time. This can give customers the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback on products before they buy them. 
  • COVID-19 restrictions: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in China were unable to go to work or visit restaurants and shops. This led to an increase in online shopping, including live selling. 

Some of the most popular live-streaming platforms for OTC and food supplement products in China include Taobao Live, Douyin Live, and Kuaishou Live. These platforms have a large user base and offer a variety of features that are attractive to both consumers and brands 

Medical marketing companies leverage these live-streaming platforms to reach a large audience of potential customers and generate leads for their clients. The users of live streaming of OTC and food supplements products in China are primarily women, aged 25 to 45. These women are typically interested in products that can help them to improve their appearance, health, and well-being. 


Common online platforms for buying OTC & FS products in China 

There are several platforms used to buy food supplements and OTC products online: 

  • WeChat Mall: A built-in e-commerce platform in the popular messaging and social media app WeChat. 
  • Weibo: A blog platform that is also used for e-commerce. 
  • Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu): A social commerce platform in China known for its high-quality user-generated content. 
  • Douyin: The Chinese version of TikTok, which is also used for e-commerce and is especially popular for live-streaming sales. 
  • JingDong Health: The largest e-commerce platform for medical products in China, offering a wide range of products including OTC, Rx, medical devices, and health supplements. 
  • Taobao: A general-purpose e-commerce platform that also offers a wide range of OTC and food supplement products at competitive prices. 
  • AliHealth: Part of the Alibaba Group, offers OTC and food supplement products from major brands. 
  • Baidu: The most popular search engine in China, with a viable e-commerce platform for selling OTC and food supplement products. 
  • Pinduoduo: A group purchase platform where users can purchase products at discounted prices. Food supplements are one of the most popular categories of products sold on Pinduoduo. 
Infographic of Chinese OTC market growth and popular sales channels

Figure 1. Chinese OTC market growth and popular sales channels 


The online selling of food supplements and OTC drugs in China is a growing market with significant potential for foreign pharma and consumer health companies. International consumer health companies can participate in this market by developing strategies to reach consumers through popular online platforms and offer a convenient and engaging shopping experience. Learn more about how to leverage social media platforms for your international market entry in this article: Boosting your OTC, FS, and Cosmetics sales in international markets with social media. 

The e-commerce market for medical products in China is expected to experience robust growth in the coming years, driven by factors such as digitalization, increasing healthcare spending, and growing consumer awareness of health and wellness. 

The Chinese self-medication and pharma market is one of the largest and fastest growing in the world. Chameleon Pharma Consulting Group offers expert guidance and support to help foreign businesses tap into the full potential of the Chinese market and achieve long-term success, focusing on areas such as Consumer Healthcare, OTC, Rx, Medical Devices, Aesthetic Medicine, and Cosmetics. 

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