If you think your workload is a bit rough, spare a thought for the 3-15 year-old kids in China. If school wasn’t tough enough already, they spend an average of one-and-a-half hours a day doing homework. On top of that, they spend almost 3.5 hours daily in extracurricular classes. Around six in every ten Chinese parents sign their children up for extracurricular classes, spending almost 13% of their household income on after-school education on average.
Whilst parents in the West may be enrolling their kids into swimming, soccer or gym class; sports rank behind tutorial classes and art in China, highlighting the emphasis parents place on their kids academic success in China’s fiercely-competitive schooling system and the growing desire for kids to excel in their creative endeavours. Although close to half of courses are motivated by improving grades, there is also a growing array of niche subject interests covering areas often underserved by the public school system such as sexual education.
These courses provide further views into priorities that the rising segment of liberally-spending millennial parents place on their kids, which has seen child-related categories among the fastest growing in China’s retail sector. They also give some clues into possible interests these kids may have when they grow up, such as art.
Between the homework and after-school courses, Chinese kids are still managing to find time for other activities: spending 50 minutes on entertaining themselves, 49 minutes in public venues, 38 minutes on electronic devices and 37 minutes reading. Some of these activities are driven by a sense of escapism from the stresses of studying, with school-aged kids contributing a sizeable share of the astonishing 630 million Chinese who play video games.
The importance of education in the Chinese psyche has implications for many categories beyond learning. Toys, vitamins, food and beverage, and even other products that are beneficial to a child’s brain development will connect with consumers if marketed correctly. Pampers are a good example: they sold poorly at first as Chinese parents didn’t see any real benefits over kaidangku (split pants). P&G re-launched them with their “Golden Sleep” campaign, which claimed babies in diapers sleep better, helping them develop faster and achieve more at school. The rest is history.
Given 58% of children registered for extracurricular classes during the summer holidays, and over a third during October’s National Day Holiday, even tourism operators could be wise to consider exploring child development add-ons to appeal to the lucrative family traveller.
Toys, nappies, nutrition, trips away and other categories: China Skinny can investigate and qualify the education and child development opportunities to incorporate into your China proposition. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.