The curious Chinese consumer has many facets, with wary mothers distinctive among them. Motherhood in China is steeped in culture and tradition, high digital engagement, ingrained family structures and an excessive lack of trust. This ensures this consumer group is unique amongst its foreign counterparts, but one worth learning about. Mother and baby products grew 256% from 2010 to 2015 according to Mintel, and are expected to grow 15% a year until 2020.
However it shouldn’t just be infant formula and diaper brands taking notice. With the lucrative and free spending Millennials now entering the child rearing age, new families are driving growth across many categories.
It’s well known that China’s 4-2-1 family structure (four grandparents, two parents, and one child) means that the child is pampered by six doting adults who are becoming more affluent by the day. This structure allows the mother to return back to work soon after birth, with grandparents or an ayi (aunty/nanny) assuming much of the caregiving responsibilities. It has contributed to just 27.8% of Chinese mothers still breastfeeding when their child is 6-months old, versus the global average of 38%. It has also reduced gender income disparity seeing parents have a higher income overall.
Mothers returning to work early means they are more impacted by colleagues and friends without children than if they were to return later. Influenced through both personal interactions and their smartphones, they are hearing about inspiring holiday destinations, new food, health issues, alternative education and even fashion.
We only need to look at fashion, where children’s apparel is one of the fastest growing segments, or tourism which is seeing explosive growth in family holidays. Recent Alibaba research found online shoppers with babies spend significantly more on fresh fruit and veges online, driving fresh food to be the fastest growing ecommerce category.