The Growing Market of Baby Personal Care Products in China

According to a study from the market intelligence agency Mintel, Chinese babies are getting more spoiled than ever. Over the last few years, China’s baby personal care market has witnessed rapid growth, with the abolition of the one-child policy and the increasing purchasing power of Chinese families. Thus, this market is expected to see sustained growth, with total sales values set to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth) of 14.5% in the next 5 years, accounting for RMB18,888 million by 2023. Over the years, China has become an eldorado for many brands desiring to conquer the Chinese market and expand their activities in the world’s most populous country. However, settling down in China is not as easy as you might think. Not only you will have to adapt to the Chinese market, but you will also have to understand Chinese consumers.

China: The Leading Country in the Baby Personal Care Market

Valued at RMB9,617 million in 2018, China’s baby personal care market size is expected to register a healthy growth rate owing to rising concerns over baby health, increasing awareness among consumers regarding babies’ hygiene, and the growth of various retail sectors linked to baby personal care products. Moreover, it is important to take into account that thanks to Chinese families’ rising wages, they can now afford to spend more for their offsprings.

If we look at this statistic from Statista, it is clear that the market size of the baby personal care industry has increased significantly between 2015 and 2018. As a matter of fact, China is poised to dominate the market even more, following the Covid-19 pandemic that has resulted in a surge in demand for baby personal care products, especially in terms of hygiene, health, and products having sanitary properties.

Baby products at the top of Chinese parents’ priorities, even before their birth

In China, as in anywhere else in the world, having a baby requires preparations, especially in terms of hygiene and skincare products. If we look at the leading pregnancy and maternal product types by purchasing frequency, we can see that maternal hygiene products and maternal skincare products are the second and third priorities among Chinese mothers. More than half of Chinese parents have purchased maternal skincare in 2020.

The Baby Personal Care in China: Segmentation and Trends

As you probably already know, the baby personal care market includes various categories of products. In fact, it is segmented into products such as cosmetics, toiletries, and others.

Baby hygienic and cosmetics products

The category of hygienic and cosmetic products includes baby personal skincare, haircare, oral care, and bath care products. It is important to know that in China, baby cosmetic products emerged as a key segment in the last 5 years. Moreover, products such as baby bath care and hair care accounted for a significant market share. Though these products are expensive, a sizable number of Chinese parents still prefer branded and quality products for their children.

Baby & Infant skincare products

Baby skincare is the largest segment of China’s baby care market, followed by baby bath and hair products. Total market sales reached RMB9.617 billion (US$1.4 billion) in 2018. Chinese parents are willing to pay more for baby-care products with premium claims, specifically those that can solve skin problems.

There is a rising demand for products with hypoallergenic, paraben-free, dermatologically-tested, ethical, and environmentally-friendly properties. Many brands are increasingly launching herbal or plant-based products to respond to consumers’ demand for natural products.

Baby skin care products on Tmall

Following rising concerns about Chinese babies’ health over the years, baby personal care, in general, is poised to witness significant growth. In 2019, the market size of mother and baby products in China reached approximately 2.7 trillion yuan, growing at around a 15% rate annually in the past three years. According to ECNS.cn news, China’s mother and baby products market is expected to grow steadily over the next decade due to growing demand from young parents who pursue high-end lifestyles, particularly in lower-tier cities.

If we look at the top 5 countries selling the most baby and child skin care products in the world, China is by far the leader.

In 2020, China’s baby and child skincare industry’s revenue accounted for 554.7 million US dollars, far ahead the U.S with its 361.3 million US dollars. Even though Chinese parents don’t have lots of children, they still invest a lot in baby skincare products.

Baby & Infant Suncare

Baby sun care has recorded the least increase in usage frequency with only 15% of Chinese consumers that have using it often the past year, and more than 65% have not used baby sun-care products at all. Parents tend to prefer giving a hat to their child in these circumstances, instead of applying sun care.

Baby toiletries

Japanese brand Merries in China (© Agence France Presse)

Toiletries include disposable diapers, fragrances, training nappy, and baby wipes.

Babies & Infants grooming products, personal care sets, etc.

Other products include baby grooming products and baby personal care sets and kits.

When it comes to Baby & Infant Personal Care, Chinese consumers trust foreign brands more

After several scandals from domestic brands, Chinese consumers are more cautious than ever when it comes to personal care products for their children. One of the recent scandals was the steroid cream that had disastrous consequences for a baby in particular, making headlines all over the world. That’s why international brands are often perceived by Chinese consumers as being of higher quality, safer and more reliable than Chinese ones.

According to surveys, the safety of products is the most important criterion in choosing skincare products for Chinese parents. After seeing this picture, you probably understand why Chinese parents tend to be extremely cautious when it comes to skincare products.

Popular foreign companies in China specialized in baby & infant personal care

Following China’s potential market and rapidly expanding customer base, foreign companies have seized the opportunity to expand their activities.

  • Thus, some prominent players have emerged over the years such as:
    • Nestle S.A
    • BABISIL Cotton Babies, Inc.
    • Danone S.A.
    • The Himalaya Drug Company Farlin Infant Products Corporation Mead Johnson Nutrition Company Avon Healthcare Limited Company Bonpoint S.A.
    • Dabur International Limited Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting (Wipro Group) Abbott Nutrition Burt’s Bees Inc.
    • L’Oréal S.A.
    • Marks & Spencer PLC Nivea Unilever PLC.
  • And brands were also able to stand out in the baby personal care industry such as: Johnson & Johnson, Pigeon Group, Shanghai Chicmax Cosmetic Co, China Child Care Co, Jahwa Group, Tianjin Yumeijing Group Co., Ltd., Mann & Schröder GmbH, Sebapharma GmbH & Co.

China’s baby personal care market will be worth $2.8bn by 2023

The baby personal care market in China will double to $2.8bn by 2023, according to studies highlighting the benefits of premiumization and the abolition of China’s one-child policy in 2015. Even though Chinese families have in general fewer children than in Western countries, the demand for baby skincare products has skyrocketed, and with increasing disposable incomes, parents tend to purchase premium personal care products for their babies.

Why is the Chinese Infant Care market growing?

Even though the one-child policy was abolished in 2015, China is facing a declining birth rate over the years. In fact, raising children in China is quite expensive in terms of education, health, activities, etc., and Chinese parents are not accustomed to having lots of children or they simply prefer to focus on just one or two children. Thus, the baby personal care market will rely more on increased spending per baby.

China’s baby personal care market has shown slower growth since 2017 due to a declining birth rate. Mintel forecasts the market to grow at a value CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.8 % in 2020-25. Given the foreseeable drop in the number of newborns, growth will be mainly driven by consumption premiumization, an increase in spending per baby, and more frequent usage occasions. Fundamentally, spending on the category remains high on parents’ priority lists despite increasing financial pressure after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The spending per capita provides opportunities for brands to launch baby personal care products in more specified categories and products, for example borrowing ideas from the adult skincare market by launching innovations for babies. In addition, parents would always prioritize safety and professionalism, therefore providing trustable reassurance to prove those features would attract their interest.

Baby and Child Personal Care Grew in 2020 Despite Covid-19 Impact

(© Nicolas Asfouri / AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT – A woman wearing a face mask holds a baby that wears a protective shield during rush hour on a street outside of a shopping mall complex in Wuhan on January 13, 2021. – A team of WHO experts will land directly in Wuhan on January 14, 2021, China’s foreign ministry said, starting their long-delayed probe into Covid-19 at the virus epicentre. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Baby and child-specific products pulled through the pandemic and achieved positive growth in 2020, though a significant slowdown was seen. The category faced challenges from a constantly declining birth rate pre-COVID-19 and to make it worse, the unprecedented pandemic has disturbed the market for baby and child-specific products especially retail sales through mother and baby specialty stores, which used to be the dominant channel pre-COVID-19.

How to leverage your Babies & Infants Personal Care brand in China?

Parents will always prioritize safety and professionalism when choosing products; therefore demonstrating excellent product quality that satisfies those basic needs is key. In addition, brands can leverage premiumization with ethical and environmentally friendly related features to differentiate themselves amid fierce competition. Even though Chinese consumers tend to prefer foreign brands, be careful as domestic brands are ready to innovate and conquer Chinese consumers again.

How to distribute your baby personal care products in China?

Based on the distribution channel, the market is segmented into hypermarkets and supermarkets, specialty stores, and e-commerce platforms. Even though China has been digitalized a lot over the years, consumers tend to prefer purchasing offline than online when it comes to baby products.

As a matter of fact, Chinese consumers prefer buying baby personal care products from hypermarkets and supermarkets owing to the availability of a wide variety of personal care products for babies in comparison with other distribution channels such as e-commerce platforms (Tmall, JD.com, Xiaohongshu, Taobao, etc). The younger generation also tends to go to baby-dedicated stores, seeking quality products. But, it is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic will probably have serious consequences in the long term for Chinese consumers who will be more inclined to buy everything online. As of 2021, already 50% of baby-related products are being purchased through e-commerce platforms.

You can also read our full Guide for E-commerce in China

Promoting your baby & Infants personal care brand in China

Promoting your baby’s skincare products is as important as being on e-commerce platforms. It is estimated that brands that do not promote their products online have almost no chance to succeed in China. Following China’s digitalization and its tech-savvy population, the majority of Chinese parents look for information on the internet before purchasing something.

Target Chinese parents on baby-dedicated websites

One of the best ways to attract consumers for your baby personal care brand, is to directly target parents on baby-dedicated websites. If you want to sell your products effectively to Chinese parents, you can use these websites to promote your brand.

1. MIA 蜜芽

Mia is an online retailer specializing in items for mothers and babies which also established its own brands such as Mompick. Founded in 2011, Mia.com is committed to helping middle and high-income families access the best products for mothers and babies, such as diapers, infant formula, toys, and baby clothes from abroad.

2. Beibei 贝贝网

Beibei was founded in 2014, Beibei is a similar maternal-infant e-commerce merchandise site that offers discounted products in all kinds of categories for infants, babies, and parents. Many famous brands are on this platform like the Chinese brand Home baby and the US brands Huggies and Pampers.

3. BaobeiGeZi 宝贝格子

BaoBeiGezi is another popular website in China for baby products. People can directly look for goods and purchase on the platform.

5. Kidswant 孩子王

Kidswant’s Website

Kidswant is a popular baby and children-dedicated store, allowing parents to find almost everything for their offspring.

4. MuYingZhiJia 母婴之家

Muyingzhijia's Website
Muyingzhijia’s Website

Muyingzhijia is China’s independent online retailer of baby merchandise which offers over 10,000 products from well-known foreign brands, including Pampers and Pigeon.

Social media are key to reach Chinese Parents

With China having a tech-savvy population, it is important for any brand to be active on Chinese social media. Chinese users are very active on social media platforms and are used to comment, share their purchasing experience as well as give purchasing advice. So, if you want to reach a wide audience, you will need to be visible online by using the most popular social media and websites.

Chinese Parents use Baidu to looks for information on baby personal care

To succeed in China, you will need to increase your visibility. How? You can start by focusing on the most popular search engine in China: Baidu (百度). As a matter of fact, more than 70% of online research is conducted through Baidu. After creating your Chinese website, you will have to focus on Baidu to increase your visibility and e-reputation. 

baby Skincare-related topics on Baidu

When looking for baby personal care products, almost 90% of Chinese parents will look on Baidu before purchasing products both offline and online. So, you need to rank within the first pages on Baidu to increase your visibility.

Having a Chinese Website: A Way to Reassure Chinese Parents

Pigeon's Chinese Website
Pigeon’s Chinese Website

Having a Chinese website should be at the core of your digital strategy. You have to know that the majority of the Chinese population is not fluent in English, so if you don’t have a website written in simplified Chinese, they won’t even look at it. Moreover, this is also an important key for your ranking on the search engine Baidu. No matter how strong your reputation is in your country, remember that when your company enters China, you are almost invisible. You need to actively promote your company through your website, by giving as much information as possible to Chinese parents. If you want to sell your products, tell a story about them, insist on your products’ properties in terms of health, growth, etc.

WeChat: The Most Popular App in China

With more than 1.2 million monthly active users, WeChat is the most popular app in China. Even though it was at first a messaging app, the app released under the giant Tencent in 2011 quickly became a vast ecosystem of services. Nowadays, WeChat is a must-have for every citizen and business as it became a new player in the e-commerce industry. Not only you’ll be able to promote directly your brand, but you will also be able to promote your e-commerce shop. If you want to promote your baby’s personal care products, you can for example create H5 brochures to present them to Chinese parents.

Weibo: “The Chinese Twitter”

Mustela on Weibo
Mustela on Weibo

Launched in 2009 by the Chinese technology company Sina Corporation (新浪), Weibo (微博) is one of the biggest social media platforms in China. As its name indicates (“micro-blog”), Weibo provides micro-blogging services and is often compared to Twitter. However, it has evolved into a microblogging hybrid with Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube over the years. As of 2021, Weibo has 56.8% of the Chinese microblogging market in terms of active users, and 86.6% in terms of browsing time over Chinese competitors such as Tencent and Baidu. It has more than 511 monthly active users and millions of posts per day, making it the largest Chinese-language mobile portal.

Contact us to start selling your baby & Infant personal care products in China

Entering the Chinese market and attracting Chinese consumers is not an easy task. Regulations and habits are not the same in China, and people tends to be more cautious than before when it comes to baby products. However, even if it might seem unreachable, you can expand your activities in China with the help of experts. You need to seize the opportunity to conquer the most promising market in the world in terms of baby personal care products. To do so, you will need to do a lot of research beforehand as well as be prepared to complete long procedures to sell your goods on e-commerce platforms, and promote your brand on social media.

Working with an agency which has both the western and Chinese point of view like Gentlemen Marketing Agency can help you overcome the pitfalls of the Chinese market. Our agency has accompanied many companies entering the Chinese market through various e-commerce platforms. Proud of the success of the companies that have contacted us, our experts are ready to help any company willing to do business in China. So, if you are interested in doing business in China, do not hesitate to contact us and we will reply within 24 hours.

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