Baby talk: Going beyond the 'nuclear family' norm in Asia

July 25, 2017
4 min read

Asian economies and cultures are rapidly changing with time, as are its consumers. In Mintel’s recent thought piece, The Generation Game: Catering to Asia’s Future Life Stages, we identify the eight life stages consumers are currently navigating and share recommendations on how companies can cater to these evolving consumer needs.

Here, we discuss two life stages related to the topics of marriage and starting families.

To have and to hold (off)

Marriage is a good place to start thinking about the changing nature of Asian families. It is steeped in cultural significance, unites two families, is meant to last into old age and is a moment of considerable family expenditure in its own right.

All across the world, there is a significant market for wedding services and related products. The wedding day itself has consumer marketing opportunities, from photography to the obligatory honeymoon travel. Marriage also creates a new household, with all the relative needs like furnishing, for example.

Yet, in many countries, the flow of the tide is actually going against the institution of marriage. According to Mintel research, just over one in four single consumers in India aimed to get married in the three years from June 2016. Meanwhile in China, while 29% of single male consumers hold the view that ‘marriage is not a necessary component for a complete life’, this rises to almost two in five female Chinese consumers, as a result of the gender skew in China where there are more women than men in the population.

Women across Asia are increasingly taking more control over their marriage plans, and not only are they delaying marriage, they are also likely to exercise their rights to end unsatisfactory marriages. The concept of divorce could be a potential area for companies to leverage; companies — and not only law firms — need to realise that they can provide help to people facing the sometimes challenging process of divorce. For instance, couples in Japan have been spotted holding divorce ceremonies that are just as elaborate as their marriage ceremonies.

Whether it is products and services for newly-wed or newly-single households, companies have the opportunity to see households as being beyond just the ‘nuclear family norm’.

Making babies

Delayed marriages also mean a delay in having children. Mintel research reveals that over one in four single Chinese consumers say that life is not necessarily incomplete without having a kid.

The decline in birth rates across many Asian countries will have a notable effect on demographic and economic futures. However, this also indicates more earning adults per infant and higher spending power per child. Slowing birth rates should therefore not be viewed as a declining market for manufacturers of baby- and child-related products, but as one that is growing in significant value.

With higher income levels and increased spending power due to the delay in life stages, parents will be able to invest more and increase their demand for better quality, higher value products and services for their babies.

Health and safety are key issues for most parents, and as they start to spend more on looking after their children, there are definite opportunities for companies to innovate within this space. An example includes products and services that help to protect children from harmful air pollutants.

There is also potential for professional baby services that help with work-life balance to see growth as more new parents live further away from their own parents. Asia has seen a growing demand for adult and baby classes that range from infant swimming to sensory stimulation.

Education, information and reliable advice are all areas where companies can play active roles in helping parents to create the best start in life for their babies. From nutrition and feeding to nappies and hygiene, new parents will always need advice — and this is where companies and can come in to help bridge the gap, by offering guidance and building that trust.

Download your free copy of Mintel’s ‘The Generation Game: Catering to Asia’s Future Life Stages’ thought piece here.

Matthew is Mintel’s Director of Research for Asia-Pacific. He looks at the development of China’s consumer lifestyles and the impact on Chinese people and society. Having previously co-founded research company Access Asia, Matthew has worked exhaustively on trying to make sense of the myriad of contradictions in China’s economics and statistics on consumer markets across China.

Matthew Crabbe
Matthew Crabbe

Matthew is Mintel Trends Regional Director, Asia-Pacific. He and his team provide insights and analysis on the latest market developments and consumer trends across the region.

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