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New Forces Rising in Chinese Mother & Baby Care Market

With the full implementation of the two-child policy and the upgrading of consumer demand, the market potential of the maternal and infant product industry in China has expanded considerably. Despite the leading position of well-established brands such as Johnson’s Baby, emerging brands exemplified by Baby Elephant are catching up fast by leveraging market insights, adopting optimal marketing strategies, and aligning with key trends.

According to the “Insight Report on the Behavior of Chinese Mothers in 2020” released by iiMedia Research, the number of mothers giving birth in 2020 is estimated to reach 15.3 million. The post-90s generation has become the main force, with women aged 26-30 accounting for more than 40% of all births. The vital stats of this key consumer group, specifically the young age and the high average monthly disposable income, translate to new growth opportunities for industry stakeholders.

China's maternal and infant market is showing stable growth, with the market size reaching 3 trillion yuan in 2018. It is estimated that the annual growth rate will be no less than 16% in the next five years, and the overall market size will reach 4 trillion yuan by the end of 2020 [1].

Overview of 2019 Chinese maternal and infant care market

Myguancha.com (a renowned Chinese media group focusing on the maternal and infant industry) released the 2019 TOP20 Baby Care Brand Power List. The list categories brands based on five key criteria, including brand power, product power, channel power, organizational power, purchasing power [2].

No.BrandOriginFounding timeNo.BrandOriginFounding time
1Johnson's Baby
The U.S.188611PurcottonChina2009
2PigeonJapan195712babycareChina2016
3Baby ElephantChina201513RUNBENChina2006
4AveenoThe U.S.194514Mama&KidsJapan1996
5GivingChina201315SanosanGermany1980
6QingwawangziChina199916CoatiChina2002
7Matern'ellaChina201217XingpuChina2014
8
GoodbabyChina198918YumeijingChina1991
9MUSTELAFrance195019Hall of ringsChina2015
10SongdaChina199220SebamedGermany1953

It can be seen from the list that established players such as Johnson’s Baby and Pigeon occupy a larger market share because of their expansive product portfolio covering a wide range of product categories, bigger brand awareness, and wider distribution channels. However, new forces are making waves such as domestic brand Baby Elephant and Giving and foreign entrants MUSTELA and Mama&Kids.

Baby Elephant shows potential to be a market leader. 

Baby Elephant, a maternal and infant care brand belonging to CHICMAX, has grown into a strong force in the Chinese maternal and infant market in the four years since its establishment.

In 2019, the sales of Baby Elephant exceeded 1.3 billion yuan [3]. It ranked No.1 in Tmall/Taobao's maternal and infant cosmetics sales in the 2019 11/11 Shopping Festival [4].

In 2020, the sales of Baby Elephant in the Q1 increased by 100% [5]. In its Tmall flagship store, the number of fans increased by 35.4% from about 2.5 million in February to more than 3.3 million in May. The Baby Elephant flagship store now has more fans than Johnson’s Baby and Pigeon.

Baby Elephant has used a savvy marketing and product development strategy, leveraging the latest advances and innovations and aligning itself with changing consumer demands for maternal and infant products featuring strong efficacy, eye-catching appearance, and state of the art innovation. It's signature product, Antarctic Cream harnesses the heavy market demand for high-end creams for skin problems such as eczema and chapped skin. In the 2019 11/11 Shopping Festival, the product sold more than 100,000 units in 9 hours, becoming the top-selling product in its Tmall flagship store. It even set a record selling 28,000 units in five seconds during Taobao's top anchor Viya’s live-stream [6].

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Baby Elephant utilizes consumer insights to shape its product development cycle. It also keeps up with the latest trends in marketing. It uses celebrity brand ambassadors and KOLs to endorse products on popular vlogs and photos on Xiaohongshu (RED), WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. Live-streaming is also an increasingly prominent part of its marketing strategy.

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Latest market trends

Young consumers born after 1990 are a major driver of growth in the maternal and infant products sector. Their new consumption habits have directly accelerated the consumption upgrading of the maternal and infant care segment. Key trends include:

Trends towards premiumization and Specialization-- The new generation of parents have strong consumption capacity and prefer premium products formulated with cutting edge ingredients backed by strong scientific evidence. These key consumer forces translate to increased demand for premium products and greater product segmentation.

Trends toward product segmentation-- With the diversified needs of consumers, more segmented products are demanded and developed covering different ages, body parts, seasons, and functions. Emerging product categories such as liquid powder and massage oils are growing extremely fast.

Evidence-based efficacy-- The post-90/95 generation is highly educated, and they have higher requirements on ingredients and efficacy. The key drivers influencing their preference for personal beauty products are like the forces shaping their demands and requirements for maternal and infant products. Products formulated with active ingredients supported by a strong body of scientific and clinical evidence are highly demanded. 

**Disclaimer: All images used in this article are from the internet.

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