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Health care firms share insight on mainland market

TAIPEI--Taiwan's health care companies and providers on yesterday shared their experience in trying to access the Chinese market, each coming up with a different sales strategy for conquering the hearts and minds of Chinese consumers.

“The competition there is fierce and one must be focused on strategies in order to succeed,” said Kenny Chen, chief executive officer of Karma Medical Products Co., a company that specializes in manufacturing motorized wheelchairs.

Chen said he has lost NT$60 million (US$2 million) in the last six years in China because he failed to carry out a comprehensive market survey.

“Never treat China as a single market or use the same strategy in different regions,” he told his colleagues at an international medical show.

They nodded in agreement when he advised them to stay at least six months in China to “sniff out the market trends.”

Another health care company said that, like many other Taiwanese enterprises, it is starting off in the more developed coastal cities where consumers have higher spending power.

Ali Lin of Superhealth Biotech Products Corp. said reaching out to an overseas market “takes time” but success should come in due time because quality is what matters most to consumers.

However, a visiting Chinese official who will run the Care and Rehabilitation Expo in Beijing this November told local businesses that an essential factor in gaining success in the China market is guanxi, or a network of connections.

“Taiwanese businesses often stress quality but forget the importance of cultivating relationships with others,” Zhu Dachang said.

For example, in the medical sector, the China government provides free mobility aids to the 86 million physically challenged people in the country, he said.

“The companies that win the procurement bids are always those that have worked hard on developing guanxi with government officials,” he said.

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