CBME China 2024

17-19 July 2024 | National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC), Shanghai, China

| EN

Overseas brand owners willing to make market investment in China, the world’s major consumer market of mother and infant products

by CBME Weibao

Bloom & Grow has been an agent of overseas mother and infant products for 15 years, and during which it has served as a bridge between overseas brands and Chinese consumers. In the view of its founder, Ms. Alexandra, the mother and infant market in China is still the world’s main market for mother and infant product consumption, although currently facing some challenges.


Please introduce the current development status of your company.


Alexandra: Bloom & Grow, established in Hong Kong, China, has a history of 15 years. Currently, we have set up branches in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Guangzhou, China and Shanghai. From the initial agency of an overseas brand, we have been the agent of 25 brands. For Bloom & Grow, our largest business market is still in China, although the market environment in China has gradually changed in the past two years, our sales volume have fortunately maintained constant growth.



What specific considerations does your company have when choosing to represent overseas brands?


Alexandra: I was a young mother when I first came into contact with mother and infant products, I chose products that I liked and that were easy to use. When I became the agent of mother and baby products, the original intention remained unchanged. I would choose a product that would make childcare easier and more convenient from the perspective of mother. Specifically, I’ll focus on some high-end, unique or award-winning overseas brands with continuous R & D capabilities. I hope that Chinese mothers and fathers will be able to live more confidently after having a baby. In the more than ten years since we started our business, our products are constantly changing with the needs of Chinese consumers. Of course, we also face some difficulties, such as how to introduce more high-quality overseas products in the Chinese market as soon as possible. For Bloom & Grow, our job is to build a bridge between Chinese consumers and overseas brands, introduce more high-quality overseas brands to Chinese consumers and in turn, pass the information and needs of Chinese market to brand owners.



Overseas brands and Chinese local brands have different thinking in the market operation: domestic brands are more pursuit of speed, while overseas brands are relatively more cautious. What do you think of this?


Alexandra: Actually, it is very difficult to explain and demonstrate the development speed of China to overseas brands. Some overseas brand owners want to spend time on product innovation and R&D, which may result in losing the best time to enter the Chinese market. The uncertain review cycle of imported products in China, on the other hand, will also cause overseas brands to miss development opportunities. Imported toy products entering the Chinese market, for example, have to pass Chinese standard certification varying from 3-5 days to 3-6 months. This also tests the agent's flexibility.



What is your company's operating model in the channel layout of agent product?


Alexandra: We are the agent of abundant brand product lines, covering high-end and mid-end products in terms of price and travel products, feeding supplies, and complementary foods in terms of category. We focus on different sales channels according to the characteristics of different products. In contrast, we provide more support for offline channels, because offline stores can showcase our products well in front of consumers after store design, such as the Ergobaby product display wall, the brand zone of Skip Hop built by some stores. In China, the cost of channels, regardless of e-commerce or physical stores, are very high, and with more channels, product price control will become more complicated. We therefore will not blindly increase sales channels in the market operation, but more monitor product sales in the entire supply chain. It is worth mentioning that in 2019, some of our company's products, such as Skip Hop and Trunki, began to be sold on cross-border e-commerce platforms such as Tmall International and JD Worldwide. The main purpose of the campaign is to know in advance which products will enjoy certain sales market in China. Of course, cross-border e-commerce will not become the main sales channel since we must guarantee the interests of distributors currently selling our products.



Some people think that some foreign brands are unwilling to invest in market cultivation when they explore the Chinese market. How do you evaluate this view?


Alexandra: Owners of our agent brands, especially some less well-known brands in China, have maintained very high investment in marketing. For some overseas brands, certain marketing expenses in the Chinese market have exceeded their imagination, we are required to create more innovation in marketing and build trust with brand owners, for instance, the current hot web celebrities bring goods for product sales and showcase. In brand marketing, we especially have to maintain close ties with overseas brands that are new to the Chinese market so that they can understand the marketing methods in Chinese market and the funds they have to invest. If the cost is higher than the standard value, some brands will be willing to share it with us, and they will allocate a part of the sales funds as marketing costs and in many cases, brand owners are still willing to invest in the market.



Bloom & Grow has been the agent of Piccolo in 2019, the company's first complementary food product, why the company chose this category of products?


Alexandra: China has very strict standards for the production and sales of complementary foods for infants, therefore we hope to find a partner who understands the Chinese complementary food market, provides a high degree of cooperation and can also focus on health concepts in product marketing, and we selected Piccolo. Our cooperation with Piccolo is not a short-term cooperation for learning experience but a long-term cooperation to jointly grasp the huge development opportunities of the Chinese complementary food market. As it involves long-distance freight transportation and customs clearance, how to sell products as quickly as possible before expiration date is a major problem for overseas complementary food brands to enter the Chinese market. In product sales, we have to sign an agreement with distributors to explain how to sell any complementary food products with a shelf life of less than six weeks or one month as soon as possible. This also requires us to maintain close communication with distributors to know data such as inventory digestion and turnover ratio.



At present, affected by factors such as the declined number of newborns and the economic environment, some mother and infant industry players are pessimistic about the market development. How do you personally view the Chinese mother and infant market today?


Alexandra: I admit that this is a tough time, but I don't think we should face it negatively. In recent years, large channel owners, like Amazon, have withdrawn and small ones emerged. Competition in the commercial market is changing, and it is normal, as a British proverb says, that every cloud has a silver lining. For Bloom & Grow, all we need to do is to maintain a closer relationship between brand owners and distributors, and solve the current problem in a longer-term perspective. In any case, China is still the world’s main market for mother and infant products.



How do you predict the future consumer demand of the Chinese middle class for high-end mother and infant products?


Alexandra: China’s middle class, the backbone of the Chinese consumer market, hopes to obtain high-quality mother and infant products at a more fair price. I am very optimistic about their spending power. At the end of 2019, we conducted a survey of middle-class mothers and found that they still have strong consumer demand for high-end mother and infant products, and furthermore, they will be more savvy in purchasing products. It also requires us to serve them better in the right way.



What are the company's highlighted development plans in 2020?


Alexandra: In the next year we’ll move our office in Shanghai to Room 431, Building A, DoBe WE”@Xujiahui, Wending Road No. 208, Xuhui District, vigorously develop e-commerce business and recruit more staff for e-commerce team such as graphic designers. We also extend a sincere invitation to all our partners who have long supported and followed Bloom & Grow, and they are welcome to visit our new office in Shanghai and embark on a new journey with us from a higher starting point.