A.S. Watson Group’s Global Health Survey Reveals
Smiling Makes People Healthier but Stress is the No.1 Barrier to Smile

A.S. Watson Group’s Global Health Survey Reveals

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Happier People are Healthier, according to the findings in a global health survey released by WISE, involving 5,500 respondents in 10 markets in Asia and Europe. The survey asked respondents to rate their own health and whether they smile enough, the results showed that happier people who smile more perceive themselves as healthier. 91% of respondents says they believe that smiling and laughing have lots of health benefits, yet only 66% smile enough and mainly stopped by stress. By generation, Gen Z smiles more and are happier than the more mature groups including Gen Y, Gen X and Boomers. And Gen Z tends to consider themselves as healthy.

A.S. Watson Group, the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, commissioned this survey from November to December last year. Over 5,500 consumers across 10 markets in Asia and Europe, aged 15-60 participated in the survey to share their thoughts on a wide range of health topics. “World Health Index”, a ranking of the healthiest and least healthy markets across the globe, was also revealed in the survey. The Netherlands topped the list of the healthiest market, followed by Singapore, United Kingdom, Philippines, Malaysia, Mainland China, Ukraine, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand came in last place.

Family & Health are by Far the Most Important Aspects of Life
When it comes to ranking the importance of life aspects, Family (87%) and Health (84%) top the list, with Wealth and Love (33% and 32%) in the third and fourth with a wide gap.

“If the survey is being conducted two months later in February this year, I am sure this result will be even more pronounced with people putting family and health at the very top priority in life. While most of us are not health professionals who can help patients or develop vaccines, everyone can do something about their own health, simply by smiling more and keeping an active lifestyle,” said Malina Ngai, Group COO of A.S. Watson Group & CEO of A.S. Watson (Asia & Europe).

Stress is a Top Health Concern
However, the survey found that stress is hindering people from smiling. Stress is now fast becoming one of the biggest global health concerns. The top three global health topics are diet, weight control and stress management, with stress growing at two times the rate of the other two.

When looking at stress in line with the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus, Jamie Cheng, Chairman of Division of Clinical Psychology, Hong Kong Psychological Society comments, ‘It’s normal to have feelings of anxiety or helplessness in the midst of this global crisis of health, but let’s not forget positive attitude to fight against the disease is our last line of defense. A high sense of hope is correlated to better mental health, we can also maintain our active lifestyle, calm ourselves with relaxing activities and take care of each other’s feelings, while always stay hopeful. If members of the public still feel stressful after trying ways to relieve themselves, they should seek professional help from a doctor, psychologist or social worker.’

In many markets, the supply of health products including surgical masks and sanitizing products are in shortage and thus the surge in price made them unaffordable for the underprivileged. This worldwide phenomenon gives the underprivileged enormous pressure and could result in health issues in the long run. To respond to novel coronavirus outbreak, various A.S. Watson business units donated surgical mask to those in need, including 150,000 masks being donated in Hong Kong to the elderly who are more vulnerable to the disease. Watsons Singapore gave care packs to help the families in need. The healthcare buying team at Superdrug in the UK is also in regular communication with suppliers to secure the supply of sanitising and health products for customer’s health needs.

Credible Health Information Matters
When compared to the findings of the 2017 report, there has been a reduced number of people searching and relying on online health information. As fake news and false information flood the internet and social media, nowadays consumers tend to seek health information from credible sources. The research revealed 61% still commonly see a doctor when feeling unwell, and 43% go in store to get OTC medication. Yet, only 15% of respondents turn to pharmacist for advice.

Pharmacists are professionally trained on healthcare and a reliable source of opinion to alleviate pressure on public health system but the role of the pharmacist is now underrated. With over 1,500 pharmacies around the globe,
A.S. Watson Group believes that more and more people will seek for pharmacists’ help as they are reliable, professional and easily accessible.

Health – Concern and Opportunity
To lead a healthier lifestyle, over 80% of the respondents believe that enough sleep, healthy diet and regular exercise can keep them healthy but 40% of them fail to do so. More and more people (60%) are interested in taking vitamins and dietary supplements to improve their health.

At A.S. Watson Group, 1 billion shoppers bought health products last year and sales for health category increased 11% year on year. Health shoppers visited A.S. Watson’s stores more than 10 times per year and their spending was almost 80% higher than the general shoppers. The insight from the Group shows that more and more people are investing in their health and wellbeing with vitamins and supplements booming globally, seeing a 12% growth year-on-year.

Ngai commented about the high growth in health product consumption, “Based on our customer insights, health customers spend almost 80% more than an average shopper. Vitamins and supplements have experienced the fastest growth of 12%. We care about our customers’ health and this is the second the Global Health Survey we have commissioned, with the aim to ensure we stay abreast of their needs in their lifestyle. We will look for product and service solutions worldwide for our customers who increasingly want more control of their health.”

“Last year, we launched a strategic partnership with Prenetics to pioneer the revolutionary personalised preventive digital healthcare solution through the launch of DNA home test kit to focus on prevention instead of treatment. We have services like Online Doctor in the UK, Health service consultation in markets like Hong Kong and Singapore. Besides products and services, we should not underestimate the power of a simple smile, and promoting active lifestyle. It is for this reason that our retail businesses, from Watsons in Asia to Superdrug in the UK launch smile campaign and get active health campaign regularly to involve shoppers in health movements.”

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