The other weekend, I went out to dinner with my good friend from college. Big reason why was because she was breaking the news to me that her and her fiancé were taking the big plunge and moving back to China for better career prospects.
Then she asks me, “Will you be able to ship baby formula for me in the future?” I can’t say that this caught me by total surprise – after all, she was the third person already who has asked me to do the same thing. Logically speaking, it does make perfect sense. Especially after the 2008 melamine contaminated milk scandal that killed six babies and sickened 300,000 others across China has possibly permanently ruined parents’ faith in domestic Chinese dairy products (I know it has for me).
Safety and Quality Concerns
Unlike the US market, the Chinese baby market is still underdeveloped. First main focus for any associated products is quality and safety. This is quite evident in the advertising industry for the baby market since the ads are focused on not the product benefits, but the product safety.
“If you look at international brands, their advertising is based around the fact that their milk powder is imported,” says Kelvin Gin, director of Synovate in Shanghai. “Local brands say their product is natural, and they have government certification. Consumers are looking for reassurance.”
According to a recent survey by Sina Baby channel, up to 81.1% of consumers are worried about product safety, 63.2% of the consumers cannot distinguish between good and bad quality of the product, and 34.6% of them feel the baby products currently in the market lack scientific guidance. Looking at these facts, it’s no wonder why the market is focusing so much on quality concerns above all else.