Children & maternity market in China

Since 2017, China’s maternal and childcare industry experienced sharp growth and is estimated to hit 5.1 trillion RMB by 2023. Chinese parents spend approximately between 1,000 and 5,000 RMB on their kids every month, mostly purchasing baby products, nutritious food and supplements, educational products, high-tech wearables and fitness-related products. This generation of parents in China are usually highly educated and live in lower tier cities. Moreover, they tend to be tech-friendly and spend more and more time surfing the Internet.

Daxue Consulting boasts a strong experience in conducting project in a wide range of areas, like baby food, children product launch, kidswear and children’s snacks, using research tools such as qualitative interviews, store-checks, mystery shopping, focus groups, and competitor analysis.

After five years from the implementation of the two-child policy, in 2021, China launched its third-child policy, in an attempt to copes with the aging population and the current drop in birthrate. China’s lacking childcare market is one of the main factors discouraging young couples from having babies. Today the rising demand is not matched by supply, nevertheless, plans are already underway to increase the number of childcare centers nationwide. The size of China’s preschool and childcare market  is expected to rise, reaching 57.59 million USD by 2025, thus businesses looking to have a piece of the cake need to invest on quality management and trained staff.

Chinese parents mainly purchase children’s products online, leading China’s maternal and childcare e-commerce to earn about 1 trillion RMB in 2020. Popular social media, such as Douyin and Kuaishou, have heavily contributed to boost online purchases: today’s tech-friendly parents in China usually rely on KOLs’ and friends’ recommendation when it comes to buy products and services for their children. Brands should pay special attention to Chinese parents’ growing purchasing power, since they are the largest spenders among the upper-middle class and lead by example.

Baby apparel is revealing an industry plenty of opportunities for fashion brands: the size of Chinese children’s clothing market vaunted a 21.34% increase in the last 5 years and it is going to generate more than 400 billion RMB by 2025, according to Euromonitor. Thereby, it is not surprising that China’s luxury childrenswear emerged as a profitable offshoot of the impressive national luxury market. As Chinese consumers pay increasing attention to fashionable and original children’s clothing, fashion brands made it easier the search for such kind of products on their Chinese official webpages and created Mini me lines.

Families are increasingly eager to spend their money on leisure activities, thus favoring the growth of the out-of-home entertainment market in China. Indeed, in recent years, such market recorded a growth rate of around 15% and boasted a market size of about 490 billion RMB in 2019. Behind the success of the entertainment market in China is Chinese Millennial and Gen-Z parents’ new concept of education and their willingness to provide their children with an active and positive lifestyle through out-of-home leisure activities, thus encouraging them to “learn by playing”.

Between 2014 and 2017, the oral care market jumped from 58 billion RMB to 83 billion RMB, vaunting an average growth rate of about 14.5%. In 2018, children toothpaste accounted for a meagre 4% of the overall toothpaste sales on TMall, but such market experienced an astonishing 114.17% rise compared to the previous year, showing its great potential. Instead, baby electric toothbrushes recorded a year-on-year growth of over 64%.

Around 90% of teens in China have skin problems, such as acne, eczema and rashes. In 2019, Chinese children’s skincare market was worth 13 billion RMB, recording a 20% year-on-year increase. Nevertheless, compared to adult cosmetics, there is still huge room for both domestic and foreign businesses.

In the last 10 years, childhood obesity in China experienced a fast growth. Such trend risks having a major impact on China’s healthcare market, since it is going to result in a sharp surge in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, the COVID-19 pandemic fostered a growing health awareness in China, pushing parents to pay a greater attention to their children’s diet and lifestyle.

China is gradually becoming the largest toy market in the world. In 2019, total retail sales of toys reached 75.97 billion RMB, exhibiting an 8% year-on-year rise. Although most of toy sales in China still take place in physical stores, the share of online purchases is bound to increase.

Toy blocks, dolls and jigsaw puzzles are Chinese children’s favorite toys, therefore it is not surprising that on JD.com, the e-commerce platform boasting the largest amount of toy sales, LEGO has more than 13 million subscribers who follow the brand’s latest news and products.

The prenatal industry and its market segments have been developing rapidly in recent years. Chinese consumers tend to prefer international brands to domestic ones; indeed, cross-border e-commerce is the main sale channel in China. Social media play a major role in engaging with customers and brands can leverage KOLs in order to influence their Chinese consumers’ decisions. Moreover, mobile shopping apps are creating new distribution channels for prenatal products, therefore some specialized websites decided to launch their own app attempting to catch new parents’ attention.

Raising a child has become increasingly costly in China and parents prefer investing their resources on one child in order to provide them with stronger foundations to climb the social ladder. Public kindergartens account for 43.4% of preschools and they have limited seats available every year, thereby in some cases Chinese households spend more than 25% of their annual income in early education. Furthermore, in order to provide them with greater chances of entering the world’s top universities, Chinese parents enroll their children in international schools, making such market thrive. However, stricter regulations and market saturation in Tier-1 cities are bound to hinder the future development of the international education industry in China.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the global education sector, entailing the emergence of both challenges and opportunities. Even though most of schools went entirely back to the in-person mode after the end of the pandemic, the integration of online and offline means has become a popular trend in Chinese education market.

Insights on the children and maternity sector