Chinese families are selective when purchasing baby products

Initiated in the late 1970’s, the one-child policy in China is a well-known directive to both local citizens and foreigners. The purpose for implementing the policy was to reduce and manage the growth rate of the country’s enormous population. Interestingly, this policy, coupled with the rise of the middle class and thus increase in disposable income, alongside China opening up to the West, has led to an unintended effect: Chinese parents, who endeavor to give their only child nothing but the best, are becoming more meticulous when they shop. Although the one-child rule has recently been lifted, parents’ selective shopping behaviors have persisted due to the surge of product safety scandals in China. An online survey in 2018 revealed that Chinese parents living in first tier cities such as Shanghai, spent as much as RMB 6,370 (USD 900) per month, on average, on baby products. On the other hand, according to China’s official data, the average monthly salary a middle class household earns is RMB 11,458 (USD 1,620). This reveals that Chinese families are willing to invest as much as 50% of their household income in baby products.

Chinese families have flocked to foreign brands and/or natural products for superlative quality and safety for their children

To ensure their purchases for their children are of utmost quality, Chinese families have mostly turned to foreign brands, specifically in search for natural products. Indeed, the international health and safety standards these brands abide by implies their products are regarded as higher quality and more trustworthy. These are crucial factors domestic brands should prioritize to win market share in the Chinese baby care market. As a result, foreign brands specializing in organic or natural products benefit from a positive image when tackling the Chinese market.

Studies show that perceptions of safety and quality on baby products are influencing purchasing decisions for Chinese parents

Zhihu, a Chinese community question-and-answer site similar to Quora, shows that in general, to Chinese consumers, the most pressing questions about baby care have to do with the brand reputation of products. Other considerations when purchasing baby products for their offspring are safety and quality, with 70% and 42% of the survey respondents, respectively, indicating these are their top decision-making factors. It is therefore vital for baby brands to build brand equity, strengthen their brand awareness, and highlight product benefits, safety and quality to meet consumer expectations.

3 proven ways for baby brands to unlock consumer interest

  1. Gain mothers’ trust
    In China, the majority of married, female consumers are in charge of family finances and consumption. A market research in 2018 showed that over 72% of mothers were the primary decision maker when it came to shopping for baby products, making it imperative for brands to appeal to mothers in order to capitalize on this booming mother-baby sector. However, Chinese consumers are known to be skeptical and do not easily trust corporations’ direct advocacy. For this reason, communication on key brands’ value propositions needs to be delivered intelligently.
    Although gaining mothers’ trust is easier said than done, Johnson’s Baby accomplished this by branding itself as a devoted company with a deep understanding of its Chinese consumers and being a problem solver for them. Johnson’s Baby conducted social listening to uncover the true needs of its target consumers: working mothers who need to pump their breast milk at workplaces. It turned out these mothers were having challenges finding a suitable space for this daunting task, so Johnson’s Baby used their research to launch a social movement. This included providing reusable stickers that could turn vacant spaces into temporary nursing rooms and providing a dedicated breast milk courier service for these mothers. As a result of this effective initiative, Johnson’s Baby reached 51.8% share-of-voice and successfully became the number one most trusted leader in the baby care consumer segment.
  2. Educate mothers on the benefits of natural and organic choices
    As mentioned previously, Chinese parents actively seek out how to provide their children with the very best. While many Chinese consumers acknowledge the higher quality and safety of natural and organic choices in a broader sense, they might not fully understand the benefits of using them. To some, the higher price tags associated with natural and organic options outweigh their merits. To overcome such hurdles, organic brands must educate mothers on the relevant benefits of their products from varying angles through different channels to help gradually promulgate these messages.
    For example, Dulux, an international paint brand, was not getting many Chinese consumers using their bright paint colors. They leveraged the insights from a research indicating bright and varied colors could help with children’s development, in order to create awareness and educate the consumers on the benefits of its wide color palette through different means, including social media and user-generated content. As a result, Dulux generated more than 700 million online impressions, increased its gross sales volume of the painting service by 15%, and boosted the average sales price by 20%.
  3. Build a word-of-mouth marketing strategy on game-changing platforms to grow your presence in China
    China is a market where traditional advertisements and internet search engine results have minimal impact on consumer purchasing decision. Peer recommendations and reviews found on third-party digital platforms, on the other hand, are deemed more authentic and trustworthy. This is particularly true among new mothers and mothers-to-be. In fact, an online survey conducted by Tencent showed that over 50% of the surveyed parents used parenting websites/apps or WeChat to acquire information about maternal and baby products in China, showing how much parents value others’ advice, comments and purchase experiences.
    So, how can brands effectively generate word-of-mouth in China? Reach target consumers on the right channels with relevant messages that resonate with them. L’Oreal, for instance, identified the right parenting app as the communication channel to tap into its target audience to disseminate emotionally compelling messages about its Revialife Filler Eye for Face. Mothers were encouraged to register for a product trial program, and then share genuine, real-life testimonials which were viewed and circulated among the close-knit community, creating social hype for the new release. Using this strategy, L’Oreal successfully enhanced awareness and built a loyal customer base in China.

OrgHive is the platform to connect organic/natural brands with target audience

If you would like your brand to succeed like one of the aforementioned brands, OrgHive is the ideal channel to help you get there. A social and content platform, OrgHive helps your brand cut through the noise and interact with China’s largest online community of Organic consumers. Schedule a demo with us today and learn how OrgHive will expand your brand presence and drive your marketing ROI in China.

Miranda Cheuk

Author Miranda Cheuk

More posts by Miranda Cheuk