Are you curious about what’s happening in China’s kidswear market? Do you want to know why a strong online sales presence is critical to succeed in this category? Keep reading for some relevant trends and considerations when capturing market share of China’s kids and most importantly their parents.
First, a quick review of China’s kidswear market.
It’s no secret that Chinese parents try and give the best to their kids. This extends all the way from premium infant formula to clothing.
This is reflected in market growth. Two years ago, kidswear was the fastest-growing form of apparel in China. In 2017, Euromonitor International, a market research firm, estimated the market was worth RMB 145 billion.
However, the market is highly fragmented. Further research by Euromonitor indicates China’s that the top ten kidswear brands only hold a combined 12.2 percent of the market. Balabala, the market leader, has just a 5 percent of the total kidswear market.
With that in mind, let’s move to relevant trends.
1. Online sales are increasingly important
A significant chunk of China’s clothes shopping is done online. Ready-to-wear apparel is one of the categories with highest e-commerce penetration.
Figure 1: e-Commerce Penetration of Different Product Categories in China
Given the majority of Chinese parents are millennials born after 1980, we expect this e-commerce penetration to continue. Chinese millennials tend to operate between seven or ten online touchpoints across inspiration, discovery, research, comparison, purchase, payment and delivery.
Therefore brands need to be smart about how they present themselves online. They need to seed content online that’s picked up by Chinese search engines, attract allies willing to rave about products online, be proactive media buyers within China’s e-commerce apps and have flagship stores that strongly communicate a localized brand proposition. It sounds like a lot, but you can book yourself a free consultation to make it easier.
2. Millennial tastes define category
The majority of China’s new parents are millennials born after 1980, growing up as the beneficiaries of China’s rapid economic transformation. On average, they are more than 130% times richer than their parents and 4.5 times more likely to have had a trip abroad.
For these Millennials parents their own style preferences have a direct influence over what Kidswear catches their eyes in-store and online. In first and second-tier cities, we’ve observed less preppy styles, and a clear preference towards styles that resemble streetwear.
Fast-fashion retailers have been quick to respond. China’s leading domestic sportswear brand, Li Ning, has extended its product range into kidswear. Another sportswear titan, Anta, snapped up Hong Kong-based kidswear brand Kingkow in 2017.
And for all these brands it is clear that online presence is key. They each present themselves on social media (see for example Kingkow’s Weibo page), and have various sales channels set up (Check out Li Ning’s Mini program for example). Everything to catch the Millennial buyer at the various stages in the buying process and cover every possible preference for channels they might have.
3. Get safety and style messaging right
Although millennial parents are looking for stylish outfits for their kids, safety and quality considerations remain paramount for infant and toddler clothes.
It’s only after the ‘terrible twos’ that parents really begin prioritising a wider array of clothing options, styles and fabrics. This also coincides with an increased number of play dates with family friends with young children and snap-happy family outings.
While recognizing these considerations, brands must also consider how they plan to differentiate in-market. We’re seeing lots of overlap and duplication on safety and quality themes. While this is somewhat reassuring for parents, it doesn’t really cut through.
More is needed around branding and positioning to win parents over and one way to achieve this is by setting high standards for online presence. If parents are looking for safe and trendy clothing, the latest of the latest, perhaps even something that isn’t sold anywhere else, they should end up on your website or Baidu Baike page. They should find the answers they are looking for on Zhihu Q&A topics ran by your brand, or they should feel like they can ask anything via your Brands WeChat account and actually get an answer.
That wraps up our quick take on kidswear! Online is clearly crucial, as it is with any market in China. But connecting your online activities and stores with the high demands of Millennials and their willingness to spend big for their beloved offspring is the key to winning in the Chinese market!
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