The Booming Baby Products Market in China
China’s demand for higher quality baby products is driving significant market growth. Offline and online sales of a wide range of merchandise – from baby formula and food, to baby clothing and furniture – are booming. Quality and functionality are prioritized over price as parents choose only the best products, typically imported, for their children.
There is a strong demand for organic baby food with high nutritional value and certification guarantee. Baby hygiene products with fewer chemical ingredients, as well as organic fabrics and textiles, are also rising in popularity. For most young Chinese parents, e-commerce is the most preferred purchase channel.
Trends in China’s Baby Products Market
Sales revenue of infant formula in China reached RMB 165 billion (US$23 billion) in 2017. Most Chinese parents prefer imported products following domestic product safety scandals. The top five infant formula firms, which account for 40% of the market, all hail from overseas, particularly the US and Europe.
Organic baby formula is one of the most popular choices. 75% of Chinese mothers feed their babies organic infant milk formula. Besides, goat milk-based formula is receiving more attention from parents due to its purported benefits to infant gut health.
China’s baby food market is worth US$18.2 million and is expected to grow annually by 4.2% through 2023. The biggest purchase channels for baby food are specialist maternity and baby stores, online platforms and bricks and mortar food and general retailers.
A notable trend is a rising demand for natural and organic options. Probiotics in baby food are also gaining traction. The demand accompanies a general rise in consumer need for products that help reduce infant gas and colic.
Baby Clothing & Accessories
In 2018, the baby/children’s garment market in China was worth RMB209.1 billion (US$29.3 billion). Chinese consumers spend around RMB 524 (US$78) per month on baby clothing and accessories. The most bought products are casual wear, shoes, socks, scarves and gloves.
In most purchases, quality is considered a more import factor than design or brand. While demand for international premium products remains strong, Chinese parents show a strong preference for affordable brands. Natural pure cotton with no chemical substances is the preferred choice for baby clothing as it is more permeable and has a softer feel.
Baby Hygiene Products
Baby skincare is the largest segment of China’s baby care market, followed by baby bath and hair products. Total market sales reached RMB9.617 billion (US$1.4 billion) in 2018. Chinese parents are willing to pay more for baby-care products with premium claims, specifically those that can solve skin problems.
There is a rising demand for products with paraben-free, hypoallergenic, dermatologically-tested and ethical/environmentally friendly claims. Many brands are increasingly launching herbal or plant-based products to cater to the need for natural products.
Parents in China spend a yearly average of RMB 2,747 (US$388) for baby furniture. Sales of baby beds and cribs via the country’s most popular online platform reached RMB 1.16 billion (US$163 million) in 2017. Safety is the main consideration in purchases of nursery furniture, monitoring and other accessories in China.
Multifunctional and transformable furniture items that can be adjusted according to the needs of a growing child have become popular among parents. 4-in-1 cribs that can be converted to toddler beds, rockers or twin or double beds are considered more economical and eco-friendly.
Baby toy sales in China reached US$11.68 billion in 2018, with educational and/or aid learning as the most popular category. Chinese parents favor educational toys that inspire their children’s imagination and creativity and enhance their coordination. Interactive, electronic toys with relatively high technology content have emerged as a popular choice for parents.
As for purchasing channels, social media platforms and online marketplaces have become more popular than online retail sites for baby toys in recent years.
Baby Car Seats, Carriers and Strollers
In 2016, Chinese consumers spent an average of RMB 2,000 to RMB 3,999 (US$281 to US$562) on durable baby products. 47% of consumers in China prefer international brands over domestic ones, despite their higher price.
Demand for baby carriers is rising as parents are shifting away from bulky strollers. Functionality and mobility are top considerations when parents consider their options. Carbon fiber stroller, with its lightweight and flexibility features, is gaining a lot of attention in recent years.
Although the future of China’s baby products market has significant opportunities, there are many challenges. With the rise of e-commerce and new retail in China, it is foreseeable that competition will grow in intensity. Improving product quality, creating a pristine reputation and building brand awareness are keys for brands to stand out from this complex competitive environment and win the approval of the increasingly discerning consumers.