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China's Rollercoaster Ride

Posted 12/02/2016 by Catherine Huang, Hygiene Marketing Manager, Asia Pacific

The ups and downs of population, consumerism and innovation

China’s one-child policy was in place for over 30 years and caused the country to age rapidly. Newspaper headlines reported that by 2030, a quarter of China’s population would have been over 60. However, in October 2015, the government decided to abolish its controversial one-child policy in a bid to increase birth rates in the coming years, fueling consumption and benefiting consumer businesses. Changes in age demographic reciprocally change consumer behavior—ranging from demand for diapers in childhood to personal hygiene products in adulthood.

Euromonitor International projects that the relaxation of the one-child policy could mean an extra one million babies born each year on average, over the 2015-2020 period. Additionally, in China, disposable income per capita is projected to reach US$14,505 by 2030. So, everything is on the up, right? Maybe not.

China – Birthrate to Decline?

Businesses should also be aware that its positive impact is not likely to last in the medium to long-term. A big gender imbalance, a declining population of reproductive age, and rising wealth and women’s education are factors that could keep birth rates low in China. For example, Euromonitor International recently projected in May 2016 that China would lose its position as the world’s largest population to India by 2025.

So, it seems that the impending baby boom has yet to materialize with fewer parents taking advantage of the relaxed policy than anticipated to date. Perhaps the hot topic for the government is how to change the mind-set of a generation, or how to promote larger families in a new China that has embraced consumerism and urban living. Nonetheless, the child-policy change will add to the number of children over time.

Premium Hygiene Products on the Up

As rising wealth keeps birth rates low, meeting Chinese affluent parent demands has instead opened up the import market for more premium products. If we look at baby and child-specific beauty, personal care and hygiene products, naturally-positioned offerings continue to grow strong in China. According to Euromonitor International, the nappies / diapers / pants category in China saw continuous growth in 2015, with a retail constant value sales increase of 9 percent to reach US$7.4 billion and annual per capita use (children aged 0-36 months) in the country reaching 376 units. This premiumization trend occurred in first-tier cites like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, with the trend further spreading to the second- and third-tier cites. One of the manifestations of this premiumization trend is a strong consumer preference for imported products, which kept on growing and expanding in 2015.

So, Asia Pacific continues to be an obvious choice of expansion for many companies. In fact, we’re strengthening our network in Asia Pacific with our newest manufacturing facility in Surabaya, Indonesia. We believe there are many possible future markets we might serve with the technologies produced in Surabaya.

Innovative Care on the Up

With expansion comes complexity, and the competitive environment in China has certainly become more complex with a widening variety of brands and hygiene products available. For example, designing products for use by older children is a developing segment of disposable pants in China. In these conditions, innovation is top of the agenda, and at H.B. Fuller, we demonstrate our continuous commitment to deliver innovative adhesive solutions and value to our customers in emerging economies.

End consumers are demanding lower odor, lighter, thinner, more flexible hygiene products that also deliver exceptional durability, absorbency and in-use integrity. We tailor our product and process innovations to meet our customers’ critical needs. With our in-house coating and global technical capabilities, we can rigorously test and fine-tune our solutions to perform before they reach a production line. Our complete Full-Care® family of premium hot melt adhesives can support your hygiene product needs.

We see changes in the marketplace. We make sure that we’re part of that change, and we connect our ideas to the changes we see around us. Find out more about our Full-Care solutions at www.hbfuller.com/hygiene-adhesives.

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