CBME China 2024

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

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Baby stores ride the wave of whole-family nutrition to pry open growth in new volumes

Whole-family nutrition and health could become an important foothold for baby stores to break through, and this is not a new topic. In the past few years, the maternal and baby channel has already laid out in this field.

Is the logic of baby stores’ layout for whole-family nutrition valid? Currently, what is the development and layout situation of whole-family nutrition in baby stores? What are the new consumption trends of whole-family nutrition that are worth paying attention to? The content below is based on the “Whole-Family Nutrition – New Growth Opportunities in the Maternal and baby Market” report released by CBME.

The Chinese maternal and baby nutrition market maintains high growth

In 2023, among various maternal and baby products, maternal and baby nutrition products have the fastest growth rate, with a year-over-year growth rate for baby nutrition products reaching 51.7%, and 9.8% for maternal nutrition products.

Furthermore, from 2016 to 2023, the scale of the Chinese maternal and baby nutrition market has increased year by year, with the market’s growth rate exceeding 10% almost every year.

The health awareness and consumption demand of maternal and baby consumers have been increasing year by year. The entire maternal and baby nutrition market saw a rapid growth rate of 19.1% in 2020, which clearly shows that the development of the pandemic has significantly stimulated the increase in nutrition product demand.

From the channel perspective, consumer research data shows that online flagship stores and offline baby stores are the two most trusted purchasing channels for consumers.

Within these, it can be observed that the overlap of core brands sold in these two popular channels is not high, with perhaps one set of brands selling well online and another set selling well offline. This also reflects that the concentration of leading brands in the entire maternal and baby nutrition market is not very high.

Online data can also corroborate this point. In the Taobao and Tmall system, the proportion of the top 10 maternal and baby nutrition brands is 47.6%. In contrast, the top 10 formula milk brands can account for 80% of the market share. So, there is still a very large development space for nutrition brands.

Looking at subcategories, online and offline consumers have basically similar core demands for categories, mainly focusing on DHA, calcium iron zinc, probiotics, vitamins, lactoferrin.

As for the degree of importance given to channels, it is apparent that both online and offline channels place great importance on nutrition products.

Research has found that in 2023, nutrition products rank first among the categories that can leverage store growth; and nutrition products also rank first among the categories that stores hope to focus on improving in the future. Online as well, in the 2023 Taobao + Tmall category growth ranking TOP5, baby and children’s nutrition products rank second, only behind children’s outdoor clothing.

This also indicates that in the post-pandemic era, nutrition products are experiencing an explosive growth trend.

Chinese consumers’ demand for nutrition products
continues to expand and still has great development potential

Why have nutrition products grown rapidly in recent years in terms of the overall nutrition product market?

On the one hand, it cannot be separated from the enhanced health consciousness of consumers in the post-pandemic era. On the other hand, it is also due to the increased willingness of consumers to spend on nutrition products and enhanced purchasing power.

Survey data shows that nearly 46% of consumers spend more than 500 yuan on nutrition products per month, 70% of consumers indicate they will increase their investment in nutrition products, and nearly 90% of consumers have increased their spending by 10%-20% compared to the past.

Even with such rapid development speed, the Chinese nutrition product market still contains huge opportunities. Data shows that the current penetration rate of the Chinese nutrition product market is only 19%, while the United States can reach 54%. Saying that to reach the US penetration rate means that there is still a triple growth opportunity.

Looking at the brand side, currently, the domestic nutrition product market is still dominated by overseas brands, with sales amounting to 70%, while domestic brands are also rapidly developing and currently account for 30% of the market share.

Here’s a set of numbers: In January 2020, there were 7,136 active brands of health foods/dietary nutritional supplements on the Taobao Tmall platform, and by July 2023, this number has reached 12,003. More and more players are joining this track, and everyone has seen the potential of this market.

Of course, not only for brands, at this stage, channels also need to capture today’s development potential of the nutrition product market, respond quickly to market changes, put more effort into consumer education, and increase the sales ratio of nutrition product categories.

Future consumption trend of nutrition products:
Heat of She-Economy is prominent

The entire future core consumption trend of the nutrition product market is mainly concentrated in two aspects. One is snack form factor, with portable, easier-to-consumer products, will become increasingly favored by consumers. The second is healing-oriented, able to take care of mutual needs for both nutrition and improvements in emotional state and appearance.

On the consumer side, we found that women are the main decision-makers for family nutrition product consumption. Middle-aged women purchase nutrition products for their families (parents, children, partners) at a high rate of 72.3%; among middle-aged married people, women purchase nutrition products for their parents and children at a higher rate than men.

Of course, middle-aged women are also the main decision-makers for consumption in baby stores, meaning that a middle-aged mother entering a baby store can not only purchase maternal and baby products but also some family health nutrition products. This also explains the logic of baby stores’ layout for whole-family nutrition is very solid.

We also noticed that in the whole year of 2023, the sales of adult health care products on the Taobao Tmall platform were 12 times that of baby and child nutrition products, and the former’s sales volume was 11.4 times that of the latter. So, if the mother and baby channel can take on the opportunity of adult nutrition and health care products, even if only taking on 1/10, it will create a very good incremental space for the mother and baby channel.

Moreover, “She-Economy” is also a point that baby stores can grasp. Data shows that with the rise of the appearance economy and the promotion of health consciousness, women’s consumption occupies 70% of the market share for health food consumption. Nourishing healthcare, oral beauty, and weight management are the main needs for women’s health. Women are relatively willing to spend money on health and beauty.

Business recommendations for nutrition products

Finally, from our observation point of view, we also hope to give some suggestions to brands and channels regarding the management of whole-family nutrition products.

For brands, first and foremost, compliance is the top priority; everyone should strictly follow food standards and regulations and clearly understand regulatory red lines. Secondly, products should be crafted professionally with a clear selling point; thirdly, although marketing is important, it’s necessary to avoid excessive marketing and exaggeration; lastly, unlike formula milk and clothing, nutrition products have strong professionalism, so it is necessary to increase nutrition knowledge among end consumers, provide professional training and empowerment to business partners.

For channels, everyone can seize the opportunity through women, linking from maternal to whole-family, and from the perspectives of product selection, display, and sales professionalism, to achieve better improvement.


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