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Global Baby Care: Mighty but Small

By: Alexander Kirillov
Posted: August 5, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Other countries throughout Asia-Pacific experienced stronger growth, driven by high birth rates, burgeoning wealth and falling baby mortality rates. The loosening of single-child policy in China—where authorities in first-tier cities (including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou) allow parents from single-child households to only have two children—coincided with the year of the Golden Pig, which further boosted birth rates due to the belief that babies born during this year would enjoy good luck.

In Japan, the birth rate continued to fall in 2007 from 8.2 children per 1,000 down to 8.1. As a result, manufacturers did not attempt to expand their product lines in baby care. Consequently, there was little new product development, and this, combined with the declining consumer base, resulted in continuing overall decline in 2007 in volume and current value terms.

Per Child Spending Rises

While the number of children per family is declining, globally, the spending per child has grown from less than $2 in 2002 to $3.50 in 2007, according to Euromonitor’s research. Rising global wealth, especially in emerging markets, boosted sales of baby care products, allowing parents to buy more luxury items such as baby fragrances—in addition to basic baby toiletries such as shampoos. Also, with fewer children to raise, many parents choose more expensive products for their children, either premium brands or natural and organic products.

Many parents feel their childhood was lacking because they did not have luxury items as children. Now, they try to compensate for their own perceived losses by pampering and indulging their children. This, combined with strong influences from the media, resulted in strong growth in such product segments as baby fragrances. The category expanded at double digit 2002–2007. CAGR rates in countries such as Brazil were 25.8%, Russia, 21.2% and France, 19.7%.

The Natural Choice

Demand for natural baby care products continues to rise across many markets. Parents have become particularly concerned about the level of chemicals in baby products—which they believe, combined with environmental issues, are responsible for rising rates of baby allergies. The trend is particularly strong in Western Europe, North America and developed Asia (Japan and South Korea), where more affluent parents choose premium priced natural products as they seek products they believe to be safer and gentler for their children. In Eastern Europe and many emerging Asian and Latin American countries, natural products hold historical appeal to parents. These markets have access to cheaper local natural brands, and, as a result, sales of natural baby care products are strong.

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