Infant nutrition, Foreign brands are Chinese Consumers’ favorite

The infant nutrition segment is one of the best sectors for foreign brands that look at China for doing business. But why? Because Chinese parents buy infant nutrition products more than parents of any other country.

Also, the well-known website Statista confirm that that Chinese is a very interesting market:

  • Revenue in the Baby Food segment is projected to reach US$82,842m in 2021. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.2% (CAGR 2021-2025).

  • In global comparison, most revenue will be generated in China (US$82,842m in 2021).

  • In relation to total population figures, per person revenues of US$57.06 will be generated in 2021.

  • The average per capita consumption will stand at 5.0 kg in 2021.


Why Chinese parents spend so much on infant nutrition products?

Chinese in general, not only those living in China, have always shown particular interest in products belonging to the infant nutrition segment. In Australia, till when the Chinese can travel around the world (before Covid-19) the demand for infant powder milk was huge, people have problems finding the product on the shelves of many supermarkets.

This behavior has worried international health organizations and the Chinese government since it shows another not so positive aspect of Chinese society. The problem that the main reason behind the popularity of infant nutrition products among Chinese parents is that many Chinese mothers stop breastfeeding their children before they are six months old. Not a good habit since even the World Health Organization recommended feeding babies only with breast milk till the end of the first six months of life.

Why do Chinese women stop breastfeeding very early on?

According to a survey published by the Journal of Child Health Care, the reasons given for breastfeeding cessation are:

  • insufficient milk supply
  • medical reasons
  • lactational factors
  • return to work early
  • going to work in cities far from home, leaving their babies to families.

But other sources reveal that this behavior is also caused by the aggressive advertisement of infant nutrition brands (mothers declared to have been contacted even during their stay in the hospital).

Chinese prefer foreign infant nutrition brands

Foreign brands are considered more reliable by Chinese consumers who have been disappointed by the many scandals that involved domestic brands in the past. The most famous is the “infant formula scandal” that happened in 2008 when 6 babies died, and many others fell ill due to the adulteration of formula milk ingredients with melamine. The company involved was Sanlu Group, one of the leading producers of dairy products in the country.

2021 infant nutrition segment trends

  • Children’s milk powder keeps being popular even if there’s been a slowdown of births in the last two years
  • While self-made mashed rice was a very popular food 20 years ago, parents prefer to buy rice cereals produced by brands today
  • In the past, parent prefer to feed their kids fresh fruits, nowadays buy more fruit puree and other kinds of snacks
  • Chinese are inclined to buy Premium products rather than low-quality products (especially foreign brands)
  • A2 milk (cow’s milk with a lower amount of protein the A1 form of beta-casein protein and is claimed to better suit babies’ more sensitive guts)
  • “grass-fed” infant milk powder popularity is growing (according to Taobao). “Grass-Fed” products are appreciated because are considered healthier for containing more linoleic, Omega-3, and Carotene than any other kind of milk.
  • Goat milk is also a growing category

How to sell your infant nutrition products in China?

  1. Brands must assure that can export to China from their countries
  2. Food products should be subject to rigid controls before being sold in China. A company must assure products meet the GB standards
  3. Register your company to CDFA (China’s Food and Drug Administration) and with AQSIQ
  4. Check the regulation for labeling and prepare your label according to that
  5. Find a local distributor or Agent

Marketing tips for foreign infant nutrition brands in 2021

Companies have to consider China as a completely new environment to explore and understand. According to the unique Chinese culture, brands must reshape their marketing strategy and adapt their plans for China and for the different realities within the Chinese territory, which is huge.

To be successful, companies must invest in technology, innovation, and product segmentation.

High quality is also fundamental for foreign brands, which are perceived as sellers of unique ingredients, services, and know-how. Not by chance, the Chinese are willing to spend more money on foreign infant products.

Finally, another aspect that cannot be missed is to localize a slice of your budget on digital marketing. Chinese love doing shopping online and they do it even more since the pandemic era began.

What must a digital strategy for the Chinese market include?

  1. Create a Chinese website hosted in China
  2. Doing SEO and SEA on Baidu
  3. Be present on the most relevant social media according to the target and product category. Read here to know more about social media in China
  4. Create recommendation and reviews in forums, Q&A (like Zhihu), and specific social platforms for mothers (like Babytree or Mamabang)
  5. Sell on one or more e-commerce platforms
  6. Follow the trends. Today Key Opinion Leaders, Key Opinion Consumers, Livestreaming, and short videos are very powerful in China

Do you want to sell your infant nutrition products to Chinese consumers?

Contact GMA

gma agency

GMA is a Digital Marketing Agency focus on the Chinese market.

We have seven years of expertise in this field and collaborate with many popular brands (give a look at our case studies)

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