On October 8, 2021, China National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) released the final version of Supervision and Administration Provisions on Children Cosmetics, which will come into force on January 1, 2022. In this regulation, the government gives a clear definition of children cosmetics: it refers to cosmetics for children aged 12 and under, with the functions of cleansing, moisturizing, body refreshing, sunscreen, etc. For the first time, this promising but chaotic Chinese children cosmetic market has a specific regulation to follow.
According to iiMedia data, the Chinese maternal and infant market was 4.09 trillion yuan in 2020 and is expected to reach 7.63 trillion yuan in 2024. Children cosmetics is one of the fastest-growing sectors. 1 This sector is unique in the 500-billion-yuan valued Chinese cosmetic industry, as it is a niche sector that used to lack regulations. As a result, the market is full of unlicensed manufacturers and unknown brands, and has been hungry for safe and high-quality children cosmetic brands for a long time.
In terms of consumers, post-85 and post-90 parents have gradually become the main consumption power in the Chinese maternal and infant market. Compared to the past generation of parents, they have higher standards for children products because of a higher education background and better financial conditions. According to a survey conducted by Baby Tree (a social media platform focusing on the maternal and infant sector), more than 38% parents believe that safety is the most strong factor they would consider when buying children care products. In addition, more than 31% of parents believe that they need more professional advice when purchasing maternal and infant products. 2
A Heating Up Market
Many brands have seized the opportunities, especially overseas brands. The children care sector on Tmall Global maintained rapid growth in the past three years. As core categories in this sector, children’s moisturizers, sunscreens, and shower gels have grown by nearly three digits in the past two years. In 2021, more than 40 new overseas children care brands entered the Chinese market through Tmall Global.
Some overseas brands have already achieved great results. French children care brand Enfance entered China through Tmall Global in early 2020. Its sales in the first half of 2021 increased by 300%. Children organic leave-in conditioner spray, a new product of Enfance, was popular among consumers. Next year, it will cooperate with Tmall to launch customized children care products. American baby care brand Aveeno entered the Chinese market in 2016, positioning itself as a high-end natural children care brand. According to data from Wien Consulting, from July 2018 to July 2019, Avanade ranked first with a market share of 8.1% of six e-commerce channels’ total sales. 3 Other overseas brands such as Evereden and Milk baobab are also active in developing specific products for Chinese children and competing for the market.
In the meantime, Chinese domestic children cosmetic brands are also rising. One of the representatives is Dexter. Founded in 2017, Dexter now has reached 30 million yuan monthly sales. This brand gained investors’ interest, gaining over 50 million yuan investment in its latest round of financing. 4 Old skincare brand Biophyto-genesis also launched a sub-brand focusing on children care in 2021, LOVE&UNIQUE MEMORY (稚可). This brand focuses on "age-specific skincare", aiming at the different skin characteristics of 0-3, 3-6, 7-12 years old infants, preschool children, and school-age children, with safety as the core, providing parents with more scientific knowledge and professional skincare guidance.
LOVE&UNIQUE MEMORY’s products
As the market is heating up, the supervision quickly follows up.
In 2021, some safety incidents in the children cosmetic market caused governments’ alarm and attention. The regulatory authorities in more than 20 provinces and municipalities directly under the central government in China, such as Beijing and Zhejiang, issued the Special Inspection Work Plan for Children Cosmetics.
Later, NMPA quickly released Supervision and Administration Provisions on Children Cosmetics to regulate the market.
On December 1, 2021, China NMPA published the children cosmetics’ logo, as well as its labeling area and color matching information. All children cosmetics should be labeled with this logo on the display panel of the sales package for better supervision.
These movements imply that the regulatory authorities have begun to attach importance to this market. Therefore, brands that intend to want to achieve success in this new-rising market need to be extremely careful to satisfy the high requirements of both governments and consumers.