Starting a new business in Asia (or anywhere) requires effort and time. But before setting out to do the hard work of getting up and running, you need an idea. Your business idea should help fill a gap in the marketplace, either by providing something no one else currently is, or improving upon what is already available. Luckily, there are many opportunities to innovate in Asia.
Asia is experiencing an aging population, urban migration, and increasing smartphone demand. Asia (and China in particular) is also witnessing a rise in the middle class, which will drive demand for upscale products and services such as luxury vacation home rentals. Catering to the needs of Asia’s changing demographics is a surefire way to increase your likelihood of success.
Here are 6 ideas for new businesses to start in Asia:
1. Education services
As median incomes rise, so, too, does the demand for quality education. Apps and social networking tools focusing on schools and education programs can help parents provide the best possible educational opportunities to their children. Young people will also need to learn new skills to prepare them for a quickly changing global work landscape. Consider offering supplementary education—computer programming, digital marketing, technology, even English—to students and professionals via online or in-person courses.
2. Health and fitness
Though the healthcare model for Asia differs from that of the West—Asian healthcare practitioners emphasize prevention as opposed to treatment while Western healthcare professionals focus on alleviating symptoms of illness—there is still room for the advancement of medicine. Awareness of wellness products, alternative medicines, and even dietary supplements and substitutions (meat and dairy alternatives, for instance) is also growing, indicating a greater market for these and other healthy consumables. In 2016, the value of the health and wellness industry in Asia was $711 billion. Women’s health services, in particular, are in demand.
Similarly, drug sales continue to grow in the region. Japan, in fact, is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical producer, with an industry worth more than $60 billion, though China is poised to become the second largest pharmaceuticals market in the world with sales reaching $160 billion. India and Indonesia are also emerging as important markets with double-digit growth over the last few years. These trends have led to growth in manufacturing operations and research and development facilities in Asia, making it an attractive destination for businesses.
Makeup, skincare, salons, and other beauty-related products and services specific to Asian women are gaining in popularity both in Asia and abroad. The Asian beauty industry has grown significantly in the last several years as young companies launch new and innovative products with a high frequency. Though Japan and Korea have dominated this growth, countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam have emerged as the fastest growing markets. Asia is also driving the grown of men’s beauty, comprising of nearly 60% of the global market for men’s products. Establishing a brand that embodies confidence and empowerment is the key for success in this business.
Like beauty products, jewelry sales are being driven by the increasing spending power of Asia’s women. Demand for fashion—clothes, shoes, accessories, etc.—is constant, and jewelry, in particular, is a fast-growing segment of the market thanks to online sales and extensive discounts. Online sales are estimated to make up 18% of luxury sales by 2025.
Just as the world’s insatiable thirst for coffee remains unquenched, so, too, does the market for coffee continue to grow in Asia. Three out of the five fastest growing retail coffee markets are in Asia, with Indonesia the fastest growing packaged retail coffee market over the past five years, driven by a surge in innovation of coffee products: the number of new coffee products launched nearly doubled between 2011 and 2016. New products and services focusing on coffee appreciation—including sourcing, roasting, and brewing education and methods—will gain followers quickly.