“It’s not that I don’t love my country. I just don’t want my baby to get hurt,” said a woman discovered by Chinese port authorities for smuggling Japanese diapers into China. Those words sum up the sentiment among many Chinese parents.
The woman is like millions of other Chinese mums who don’t want to take any risks with their baby’s welfare. Many of those mothers are responsible for buying half of the infant formula sold in Australian retail stores through Daigou channels. There are even parents in China who will not buy a single local product for their precious child. Even with Beijing’s propaganda constantly advising consumers how safe local products are, wounds from previous scandals are still raw.
In many ways, Chinese mothers personify well known Chinese consumer traits – they just take them to the extreme. For a start, Chinese mothers have an inherent lack of trust in Chinese products. This cynicism sees them research like PhD students, building a level of product knowledge unrivalled by any other major consumer group globally.
Much of the research they do is online. As many Chinese mothers are housebound for at least 30 days after giving birth, they usually have a lot of time to check and evaluate products on their smartphone. This further cements their attachment to WeChat accounts and groups, forums, websites and apps that they established during their pregnancy.
When re-entering the workforce, more and more mothers are turning to the Internet to aid them in juggling a job, household duties and caring for a baby. For example, online shopping for maternity and baby products doubled in value last year to $54 billion. Parents’ impact on cross border shopping is even more pronounced. Just 5% of domestic online shoppers buy baby care products compared with 17% of cross border shoppers, according to Tmall Global.
Chinese mothers’ long focus on quality is now being reflected across almost all Chinese consumer groups who are trading up. Yet where mothers differ is their loyalty. Although Chinese are among the most promiscuous shoppers anywhere, products such as infant formula have the highest rates of loyalty across categories and brands in China.
If your brand scores well in that research and you can sway loyal Chinese parents to buy your products, it can be lucrative – they pay some of the highest prices in the world to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their children. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.