The kid’s clothing segment is a fashion brands’ next success story in China. Why? In the 2020 Chinese fashion market, children’s wear outperformed men’s wear and women’s wear to reach a peak of 261 billion RMB. The strong demand coupled with the recent measures on families’ policies, resulted in the development of the baby and kids’ clothing market in China over the last few years. Like many other childcare-related products, the children’s apparel segment is booming in China.
Indeed, many factors can explain this recent growth:
- Improvement of household purchasing power
- Lifting of the one-child policy to three-child policy
- Economic double-digit growth of the country
In this article, we will introduce you to the Chinese ready-to-wear children’s market and we will explain to you how to market correctly a brand. Whether you own a children’s fashion company or you think about creating a kids’ clothing line to add to your portfolio, you will find everything you need to know.
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Sell Kids’ Clothes in China: Target the Chinese Mothers
Called “hot mamas”, in Chinese 辣 妈, they are the new generation of post-90s mothers. Hot mamas think, buy and raise their children very differently from previous generations. A 2018 research conducted by the China Business Network on the behavior of the latter during the purchase phase shows that:
- When they need advice, they turn to their peers rather than to their parents;
- They look more to the safety and quality of the product than to the price;
- They love to buy high-quality products through cross-border e-commerce.
Born during the digital boom of the country, hot mamas form their communities and consult each other through dedicated apps or through groups on WeChat.
Market research on social media allows us to understand that hot mamas love to dress in similar clothes to their children: “the mini-me trend”.
The huge growth in the Kids’ Clothing and Fashion segment
The children’s ready-to-wear market in China is one of the fastest-growing segments. Compared with the annual market growth of 6% of the clothing sector in general, the kidswear segment is growing by more than 9%, demonstrating that the market is developing well.
Indeed, the renewal of children’s clothing is stronger than that of men or women. The purchase for children is repeated more often than for the other two segments.
The ready-to-wear market for children can be divided into three categories:
- Baby clothes: It remains the main subcategory, likely to achieve growth in the coming years. With the new 3-child policy, the 0 to 2 years old market is expected to grow in the next 5 years.
- Girls’ clothing: This is the growing segment in the market, especially for girls aging between 5 to 9 years old. This segment is mainly described by higher prices compared to boys’ segment and a higher purchase frequency.
- Boys’ clothing: With lower average growth, this segment was neglected by international brands, preferring to focus on girls. Chinese moms are likely to spend more on their boys, especially with limited edition collections and influencers’ endorsements.
Analysis of China Kids’ Clothing Market Trend and Demand
The more children grow, the greater the demand, and the need for clothing. In the baby segment, buyers are looking for safe and comfortable products for the benefit of their children. By the age of three, expectations are different. Parents will favor products that will convey the good taste and individuality of their children. This change in expectations and needs and mainly due to the social development of the child who will begin to engage in an outside life with his peers. The need for differentiation strongly influences their purchases.
Foreign brands have a real advantage over the target of 3 years and more since this need for differentiation plays a lot in the purchase of these brands. Indeed, many parents visit the websites of foreign brands to buy products across Asian borders and give a unique image to their children.
Chinese consumers are generally fond of foreign brands as they a guarantee quality and originality with regard to fashion.
Distribution Networks: Both Online and Offline Channels are Important
The strong attraction of consumers to physical stores is justified by the fact that many of them prefer to have a concrete image of the product. Product testing is a concept that is still important in this marketplace. Some consumers may prefer to go to a store to view the product, and touch it before purchasing. The sensory dimension strongly influences the segment.
Nevertheless, the growth of online commerce opens new doors for the players since it is considered an extension of sales formats in multi-channel distribution strategies. The digital sphere also allows brands to expand their presence and increase their visibility in a market that is becoming increasingly saturated.
The online channel represents a real opportunity for the players since the sales represent 4 million of the turnover of the segment. In childrens’ wear, Tmall (50%) and JD.com (20%) hold 70% of the market. They are still the two major players in e-commerce in China.
The complementarity of these two distribution methods becomes a differentiating tool for brands and an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage to reach the consumer throughout his customer journey.
How to market your baby and kids’ clothing brand in China?
Here you have the opportunity to embark on a market whose growth potential is not going to stop so early. In order to develop your business in the China market, many steps await you, and do not think that transposing your model to China will be enough.
Here are some tips for setting up and promoting your brand in the market.
The most important steps in the ready-to-wear market for children are:
- Build your e-reputation and a good brand image;
- Communicate with your target audience;
- Find a good distribution channel.
Develop your kids’ fashion brand’s e-reputation
You have to capitalize on the digital trend in the country. For this, your online marketing strategy is very important. The Chinese are consumers are always connected with their digital environment, up to 6 hours per day. Do not forget that this environment is completely different from the one we know in Europe. You must create your presence in this new universe… and know how to talk to Chinese moms.
Social media have a strong impact on the purchasing decisions of Chinese people. The country is known for having the largest network of Internet users in the world, representing 914 million people. The social platforms will be relevant to your strategy since consumers, in our case parents, are influenced by the recommendations of friends or family in the purchase of products. In brief, word-of-mouth is the key.
In order to build a good e-reputation you have to:
- Create a Chinese website that is mobile responsive
- Implement an SEO campaign for Baidu, the most used search engine to show your credibility
- Implement SEM campaign to reach first page on Baidu
- Build your notoriety with PR and press releases via magazines like Bébé or Milk Enfant
- Find your audience with the right KOLs and influencers with the “Fashion Mama” or the “Mom Next Door”
- Use forums and key opinion consumers to talk about you on Chinese blogs and forums
Use WeChat and Weibo to communicate with your clients
WeChat is the window to the social world of China. The application gathers more than 1.2 billion active users every month. WeChat has become an extension of the person in China. The platform is used on average 4/5 hours per day and allows a diversified use. Individuals have the ability to communicate with instant messaging features, share content through “moment” similar to a Facebook wall, pay via WeChat Pay and buy online via the social commerce features of the app.
The platform is crucial for brands entering the market. For this, you need to open an official account on the application that will allow you to broadcast content and interact with your customers and prospects.
It is a good way to improve your customer service since it allows a direct link with your consumers. Community Management on the platform is therefore crucial. For instance, the leader in kids’ fashion Balabala created a WeChat mini-program only dedicated to customer service and brand loyalty with special offers and nearby boutiques.
Weibo offers many services: from traditional social activities to creating micro-blog, sending messages, following brands, Kols and trends, live streaming, and gaming activities. It is a one-to-many platform. On Weibo, you can have more followers and faster but on Wechat you have more impact on call to action, so you should learn to use them at the same time. One does not exclude the other.
Weibo helps to increase brand awareness, ensure great visibility for events and promotions through ad-hoc communication with user-friendly content, insert external links to the brand’s e-commerce, and to lead to word of mouth, which is very important in China.
Opt for Physical Distribution and for the E-commerce Platform Xiaohongshu
The measures initiated by the government to develop the liberalization of domestic markets allow international brands to develop more quickly in China. Direct investment, franchise agreement, or sales intermediary are practices commonly used to improve the visibility and marketing of physical outlets in the territory.
Sell Baby & Kids Fashion in Physical Stores with Chinese Retailers
With this marketing strategy in mind, we recommend that you collaborate with a Chinese distributor to market your products. Thanks to a positive e-reputation and a good brand image, it will be easier for you to find a partner. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, many fair trades keep taking place in China for retailers and offline stores. For dedicated children’s fashion and kids’ clothing retailers, we would recommend exhibitions like I Love Playtime in Shanghai or the Children Baby Maternity Expo in Shanghai.
The key strategy is to combine strong marketing operations with the development of your phygital network. Physical retailers are key to entertain your audience and enable them to enter your brand’s universe. On the other hand, online distribution is very popular in the country to target Chinese moms in lower-tier cities. Developing a store and being present in one of the most used e-commerce platforms is a market imperative for any international brand’s visibility.
Promote your Baby/Kids Clothing Brand on Xiaohongshu
A Xiaohongshu store enables brands to practice cross-border e-commerce. With the right partner, you can have the capability to build a unique online store that would match Chinese preferences. Especially on Xiahongshu, Chinese netizens are sensitive to high-quality pictures and users’ recommendations. On average, the maternal and children industry reaches 150K reactions per month. If you want to boost your product pages, you definitely need to focus on products’ presentation, benefits, and clients’ reviews.
The user experience is very different from traditional e-commerce. Any mom will start by browsing in their home while content will capture her attention. Then she decides to collect information within the platform: brand official account, influencers’ endorsement, users generated content, and shopping notes. Finally, she can directly purchase the product without even leaving the app. Meanwhile, in the traditional e-commerce platforms, the user discovers a store while she is already interested in a product. In social commerce, the user enters also by diversion.
In 2019, Xiaohongshu counted over 85 million monthly active users on its platform. Its community is mainly composed of urban women (88%), 70% of whom were born after 1990. In a word, this is exactly the target audience of kids’ clothing in China.
Do you need a Partner in China? Or you want to discuss your marketing strategy for your kids’ clothing brand?
Do not hesitate to deep dive into the Chinese digital ecosystem and the Chinese culture before considering your market entry. China is a unique country with the oldest living civilization and a daily dynamic evolution. It is key to finding the right partner to take care of your operations to ensure you a place of choice in the market. Many agencies such as the Gentlemen Marketing Agency can also help you make your first steps into the Chinese market.
Our agency is specialized in digital marketing since 2012. With HQ offices located in Shanghai, we take care of the marketing and e-commerce operations for international brands. We are committed to collaborating with organizations to grow their business in China, from large retailers to small independent brands. In China, nothing is easy but everything is possible. And GMA is always here to hold your hand!