China’s Toys and Games Market (5): Two-Child Parents’ Purchase Preferences
04 July 2019
Following China’s adoption of the “two-child policy” in 2016, the recent toy consumer survey commissioned by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) interviewed 180 parents who have two or more children (“two-child parents”) in order to understand their toy purchase preferences. The survey found that two-child parents have relatively high spending power. They spend 20% more on toys than one-child parents do, and make on average four more purchases a year. However in terms of their motivations for buying toys and what factors they take into consideration when buying toys, two-child parents are similar to one-child parents.
Two-child parents’ children come into contact with electronic games later than those from one-child families - at the age of 5.5 on average, compared to 5.0 for one-child parents’ children. This is probably because two-child parents are more concerned about electronic games’ influence on their children. As two-child parents have to meet their children’s greater demands for toys, they look for information on toys from more channels than one-child parents do, and tend to examine more toy choices when online shopping. Two-child parents with children of different genders buy the most types of toys.
Two-child Parents Have Higher Spending Power
Two-child parents tend to buy toys for their children more frequently than one-child parents do and their total spending on toys is higher. The survey found that the average unit price of toys paid by two-child parents is RMB204, with the average unit price of the most expensive toy they bought being RMB918, and the most pondered average unit price being RMB823. These amounts are not much different from those for one-child parents. However, the two-child parents surveyed made on average 19.4 purchases in the past year, four times more than one-child parents did. Their total spending on toys in the past year was RMB3,017, compared to RMB2,555 for one-child parents, a difference which is probably accounted for by them buying toys more often. The survey also found that two-child parents generally have a higher household income than one-child parents, probably leading to their stronger spending power.
The number of toy types bought by two-child parents is affected by whether their children are of different genders. In the past year, parents with children of different genders bought an average of 7.61 types of toys to play with, while those with children of the same gender bought 5.63. This is likely to be because children of different genders prefer very different toy types. When two-child parents with children of the same gender make purchases, they tend to buy more than one unit of the same toy to prevent their children from fighting over it. At a focus group discussion, a two-child parent said: “When buying toys for my two sons, I would buy more units of the same toy, with one for each of them, to show that I am fair and prevent them from fighting over it.”
Preference for Toys Allowing Children to Play Together
When it comes to their motivations for buying toys, two-child parents are just as likely as one-child parents to believe that “learning should come before recreation”. The survey found that “building the child’s abilities” (51%) remains two-child parents’ main motivation when buying toys. However, fewer two-child parents than one-child parents cited “helping inspire and enhance the child’s intelligence” and “as a gift rewarding the child” as reasons for their toy purchases. This may be because two-child parents have accumulated childcare experience with their first child, and have developed more successful methods for teaching and rewarding their children. In a focus group discussion, a two-child parent said: “Having gone through the experience with my first child, I have become more meticulous and emotionally stable when taking care of my second child.”
It is worth noting that although “helping the child learn about daily life and understand society” and “stimulating interaction and exchanges with friends” are not the main reasons for buying toys among all surveyed parents, two-child parents attach more importance than one-child parents do as to whether toys are able to perform such functions. One respondent said: “I hope the toys I buy would allow my older child to guide the younger one in playing. As such, they can play together and build a closer relationship.” Another respondent commented: “I find that small toys like a Rubik’s Cube can arouse both my children’s interest. I now look for more compact, exquisite toys which can stimulate my children’s thinking.” These findings make it clear that two-child parents place more emphasis than one-child parents do on whether toys can enhance their children’s social skills. They will also pick toys which allow the children to play together at home.
When it comes to the factors that parents take into consideration when buying toys, two-child parents are similar to one-child parents, with 50% citing “suitability for the child’s age group” and 38% picking safety as the main factors.
More Concerned about Electronic Games’ Influence
In recent years, the government has advised parents to exercise careful guidance over their children using electronic products and to prevent them from playing electronic games for long periods. Compared with one-child parents, two-child parents maintain a stricter control over the age at which their children come into contact with electronic games. The survey indicated that a greater proportion of two-child parents than one-child parents stop their children coming into contact with electronic equipment and games before they are 3-4 years old. 19% of two-child parents do not allow their children to come into contact with electronic equipment and products until they are 9-14 years old, compared to 7% of one-child parents.
There are a number of reasons why this should be so. It is likely for example that, having gone through the experience of caring for their first child, two-child parents are better informed when it comes to guiding their children about what age they should play with toys. They may also hope that their children can play together, instead of playing mobile games or other electronic games on their own.
Proactive in Seeking Toy Information
Compared with one-child parents, two-child parents use a wider range of channels to seek out information about toys. The survey found that two-child parents are more likely to use almost all main information channels than one-child parents are. They are particularly more likely to get information from the children themselves, short-video apps and outdoor advertisements. As two-child parents have to cope with their children’s greater demands for toys and buy toys more frequently, they tend to have access to more avenues for obtaining information on toys.
Two-child parents are more likely than one-child parents to purchase toys via mainland shopping websites, supermarkets or hypermarkets, and toy wholesale marts. Two-child parents opt for shopping websites primarily because they offer a wider choice and greater convenience. Shopping websites also offer products with unique features as well as brands not available on the mainland. In addition, because they have to cater to the demands of two or more children, two-child parents are more likely than one-child parents to take into account whether a shopping channel offers convenience, a full range of toy types and value-for-money products.
At focus group discussions, many two-child parents said that they made better toy purchase plans after their second child was born. They would use their experience with the first child to pick out more durable and better quality toys. This was confirmed by the survey results. Two-child parents buy toys more frequently than one-child parents do, and select toys which allow their children to play and learn together. Two-child parents come into contact with more information about toys through various channels in their daily lives, and thus become more demanding than one-child parents about the brands and the types of toys they buy. Both one-child and two-child parents want toys that can enhance their children’s abilities and knowledge. Toy traders looking to tap into the growing demand for toys in the mainland should consider developing or introducing high quality, safe toys that can stimulate children’s interest in learning.
 Please refer to the “Appendix” for background information on this survey.
In recent years, the rising income levels of mainland consumers have fuelled the rapid growth of China’s toy retail market. At the same time, new types of toys have arrived on the market, with STEM toys, new technology toys and electronic games becoming increasingly popular. It is expected that the full-scale implementation of the two-child policy by the mainland government in 2016 will also propel the growth of the toy market. In light of these developments, HKTDC commissioned a new purchasing behaviour survey on China’s toy shoppers to update the ones it carried out in 2010 and 2014. The aim was to track and assess changes in middle-class consumers’ purchase motivations, price sensitivity, brand preference and other trends. The findings of this survey should provide a useful set of references for Hong Kong companies wishing to tap the mainland toy market.
The survey was carried out between October and December 2018. A total of 2,000 respondents completed the online questionnaire survey. Of these, 1,600 lived in Beijing, Shanghai and six other provincial capital cities, and 400 lived in eight non-provincial capital cities. Before the online questionnaire survey, two focus group discussions and three home visits were conducted in Shanghai and Chengdu with a view to gaining an in-depth understanding of the preferences of mainland consumers through qualitative analysis.
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
- Toys & Games
- Mainland China