China's toy market potential huge following 'second child policy'
By Zheng Junfeng
Today is International Children's Day. Ask any Chinese family where they spend the most money in their household year round, and you will very likely get this answer – on the kids. That means toys, of course, are a major expense.
On this Children's Day weekend, more kids than usual were at Hamleys, one of Beijing's biggest toy shops. While the kids were having a good time, many parents were watching their budgets.
Chinese parents spent an average of 323.4 yuan or 45 U.S. dollars on toys for children below age 14 in 2019, rising 8 percent year on year. But in a big city such as Beijing, a family's toy budget could easily be five to ten times more.
One of Hamleys customers, Mrs Jiang, said her family spends 2,000 to 3,000 yuan a year on toys for her son. Another customer Mr. Liao said he spends 1,000 to 2,000 yuan on his daughter.
Many Chinese families now have two kids, encouraged by the country's second child policy instituted a few years ago.
"Our sales have been boosted by a baby boom following China's second child policy since a few years ago.," said Ren Guojun, general manager of Hamleys Beijing. "Parents are mostly the post-80s and 90s. They want the best quality products for their kids. That includes toys."
Chinese families' biggest spending on their children is, of course, still on education. But now parents realize toys can be educational, too. A market report shows that Chinese parents prioritize the educational value of toys. Some 36 percent of parents listed education as the top consideration when choosing toys for their kids last year.
Mrs. Jiang says, "Before three, we bought toys for my son to practice eye-hand coordination. Now he's five and we'd like some toys that could train his imagination and design."
"We have toys that can help kids increase their attention span, such as these building blocks that may require kids to concentrate for more than one hour. The benefit is obvious later on as parents may notice their kids can finish school studies on their own," says Ren.
The China Toy & Juvenile Products Association says that the retail volume of China's toy market reached 76 billion yuan, or 10.7 billion U.S. dollars last year. That was up 7.8 percent from the previous year, and additional growth is expected.
"In Beijing, there are 1.1 million families with kids under 14 years old. 200, 000 of them are Hamleys' members. So we still have a lot of room to grow," Ren added.