China's Digital Landscape

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China's Digital Landscape

Favorite websites in China for parents include BabyTree, PC Baby, and Mama.cn. Chinese parents, especially those in urban areas, are comfortable seeking parenting advice online as well as consulting with health experts online. They primarily rely on doctors, online search, relatives, and social media for health-related information such as information on growth disorders.

BabyTree

  • BabyTree is considered to be the largest parenting website in China. It is an online platform that allows parents to share valuable experience and advice on parenting.
  • It's described as the biggest parenting website in China by media and industry sources such as SupChina, Crunchbase, and South China Morning Post.
  • BabyTree provides various useful tools to parents and expectant mothers such as a pregnancy calculator and an incubator calculator.
  • BabyTree is an Alibaba-backed platform and it plans on expanding to the international market. The company said that the reason they are moving abroad is that there isn't a "consolidated platform, with e-commerce and advice forums" in the US similar to BabyTree.

PC Baby

  • PC Baby is a parental network that provides Chinese parents with information on pregnancy, childbirth, children's growth, education, health, and much more.
  • It is a very popular website in China, with over 3 million views monthly and is ranked as the top Mother and Baby website in China.
  • PC Baby has different sections for pregnancy, postnatal, parenting, parental life, and interactive session with experts. They also have parenting and health experts live that parents can consult with on their website.

Mama.cn

  • Mama is another very popular parenting website in China.
  • Mama has over 3 million visitors monthly.
  • It's a comprehensive database of parenting Q and A, pregnancy and parenting information. It provides city activities parents can do with their kids and provides access to specialists.
  • The child-parent activities industry is a $290.5 billion industry in China, with many young parents relying on "third parties to develop plans of spending quality time with their children", so it is no surprise that parenting websites are catering to the market.
  • Mama organizes a live class for moms on various topics. Users can even send private messages to the expert teaching the class to have any of their questions during the class answered.

Other Favorite Websites

Digital Persona of Chinese Parents

  • One in 20 Chinese adults read more than 10 digital books and this suggests that some parents read digital books on parenting and other topics related to their children.
  • Adult Chinese spend about 80.43 minutes a day on their smartphones and the number of minutes spent a day on their smartphone is increasing.
  • Adult Chinese spend about 27 minutes on WeChat, a social media, messaging, and payment app.
  • Chinese parents, especially younger parents, frequently shop online for their kids.
  • Chinese parents are very comfortable with mobile phones, with a quarter addicted to mobile phones. This sometimes has negative impacts as a study found that phone addiction by parents is responsible for 25% of children's accidents in China.
  • Although traditional media such as TV still has the major share of an adult's media time in China, "digital video’s share of consumers’ combined TV and video viewing time has risen significantly, from 23.2% in 2017 to 33.0% in 2019. This figure is projected to rise to 39.3% by 2021."
  • About 72% of Chinese parents actively monitor their children's online lives, with the majority concerned about how inappropriate or excessive use of the internet.
  • Chinese parents are also paying for their children to learn English online.

Website Preferences of Chinese Parents

  • Chinese parents access most of their websites from their phone so it is essential that a website is mobile-friendly.
  • Parenting websites generally carters to mothers, as they are the primary caregivers and fathers are usually passive. This is especially so for children aged 0-6 where the mother is considered as the main parent, according to a study of over 31,000 Chinese parents. Hence, websites aimed at parents are best served focusing on the potential needs of mothers.
  • Most parenting websites in China have an e-commerce platform and Chinese parents are accustomed to making payments using services such as WeChat, so integrating such a mobile payment platform is a plus if online payment is required.
  • A study in China found that young people (aged 18 – 25) prefer minimalist website design more than older people (aged 35 and above), however, the difference in preference is minimal and the "increased aesthetic appeal may not be worth the usability cost of graphic design".
  • When asked attributes they prefer in a website, older Chinese adults (aged 35 years and above) in the study said they prefer websites that are professional (75%), "familiar with" (67%), trustworthy (47%), fresh (46%) and impressive (41%). The preference of younger Chinese adults is quite similar: professional (71%), "familiar with" (60%), trustworthy (44%), fresh (43%) and impressive (35%).
  • The average age of first-time mothers in China in general is 27.4 years and in Shanghai the average age is over 30 years. This suggests that the preferences expressed by young and older adults in the study cited above are likely to be similar to that of mothers in China.

Growth Disorder Chinese Parent Search

Doctors and Health Experts

  • Chinese parents generally search for information on growth disorders by discussing with their kid's doctor or other health professionals in the hospital.
  • Even when parents search online on the topic and get advice on growth disorder, they are also generally advised to see a doctor in case there is an underlying disease or a nutrition expert in case it may be a problem with the child's diet.
  • People who can't visit a hospital to see a doctor also use online medical platforms such as Dr. Lilac, Good Doctor, and Weiyi Group. For instance, in light of the Coronavirus epidemic in China, 20% of parents choose online medical consultation after seeing news of children infected with the virus.

Search Online and Parenting Website

  • Parents search online for information on growth disorder, turning to search engines such as Baidu, Qihoo360 (also called Haosou), and Sogou.
  • Parenting websites such as Mama, PCBaby, and Babytree are very popular in China and a key reason for this is that it allows parents to search for health information regarding their kids and get counsel from experts easily.
  • These websites also have advice forums with have various groups and topics where parents advice themselves and provide recommendations and expert referrals and resources on various health topics, including child growth disorders.

Relatives and Social Media

  • Chinese parents generally ask parents and friends when searching for health-related information, however, there are also a growing number of young Chinese parents who believe that advice from their parents and relatives may be outdated and as such favor science-backed advice on several subjects.
  • Young parents belong to various parenting groups on Wechat. It is not unusual for a parent to belong to six to 17 different Wechat groups on parenting and those considered with growth disorder are likely to also search for similar groups on Wechat where they can get information from.
  • Some hospitals in China also have Wechat channels on which parents can contact them and request for online consultations. Medical consultations targeting parents are very popular on Wechat but there are concerns that it is not well regulated and may be dangerous as people posing as experts or doctors are not always verified.

Chinese One-Child Policy Impact on Parent

  • A key impact of the one-child policy is that the Chinese population is aging faster than usual and falling marriages. The median age of a Chinese person is currently 40 years and there were 222 million single people in 2017.
  • The one-child policy led to many families ending up childless, leaving many parents without physical and emotional support in their later years.
  • Although the one-child policy has been lifted and the government is now encouraging parents to have a second child, many parents are now accustomed to having one child and many feel that they can't support more than one child. It costs about "$77,165 to raise a child from birth to 16 years old in an average city in China."
  • A key reason why it is financially challenging for parents to consider an additional child is that the one-child policy created the "so-called 4-2-1 family structure: four grandparents, two parents, and one child, whose earnings the other six may all depend on. For the working only-child with two retiring parents and four elderly grandparents to care for, providing for two children is a hard sell."
  • The one-child policy resulted in an imbalanced sex ratio, with the majority of Chinese parents having a strong preference for sons resulting in about 30 million "excess" boys who will be unmarriageable in their reproductive age. The gender imbalance at birth is expected to continue until 2060.
  • To make their sons more attractive for marriage, Chinese parents with sons increased their savings rate. In fact, researchers stated that "the increase in the sex ratio from 1990 to 2007 can explain about 60% of the actual increase in the household savings rate during the same period."
  • Birth rate surged after the relaxation of the one-child policy in 2015, with the total births in 2016 the highest in 17 years. The total birth in 2016 was 18.46 million babies. Although the number was 11.5% higher than in 2015, it was still short of the 20 million births targeted by the government.
  • Experts say that "because of a drop in the number of women of child-bearing age, the average total of newborns would probably drop back down to 16 million after 2020."

Research Strategy

Our research team focused on providing as much information/studies specifically about Chinese parents as possible. Where there wasn't enough information specifically based on studies/surveys of Chinese parents, we used proxies such as information on Chinese adults or inferred preferences based on websites frequented by Chinese parents or articles/reports targeted at Chinese parents. We also had to rely a lot on Chinese sources and have used translation services where necessary. We also couldn't find enough data specific to sources Chinese parents search for information on growth disorders so we used proxies such as where they generally search for health-related information.
Sources
Sources