Illustrative image (Photo: alobacsi)
Rapid urbanisation, growth of the middle class and rising rates of women's participation in the labour force, especially in developing markets, are expected to stimulate global growth in baby food and diaper sales, according to a report released last week by global performance measurement company Nielsen.

The 2015 Nielsen Global Baby Care Report, which explores trends in categories such as baby food and diapers and why consumers choose one brand over another, shows that more than one in 10 consumers in Vietnam have a baby below the age of one in their household, the highest level in this region and double the global average of 5 percent.

A further 19 percent have children aged one to two in their household compared to 9 percent globally. 

Half of respondents in Vietnam say good nutrition is important when deciding which baby food to purchase. 

Good price/value and trusted brands are also important for more than a third of consumers (38 percent), along with safe ingredients/processing (36 percent) and flavour/taste (32 percent).

Organic and all-natural foods are also an important purchase consideration, cited by 27 percent of respondents in Vietnam.

"When it comes to caring for their little bundles of joy, parents are highly discerning from the food they put in their mouths to the diapers they put on their bottoms; there is little room for compromise, and they're willing to spend more for quality," Connie Cheng, head of shopper insights for Nielsen in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific, said. 

"Greater awareness of the importance of health and nutrition is leading consumers to look for natural, minimally-processed foods, and when it comes to their babies, consumers are especially particular — even if their demands come at a premium.

"In developed markets, where birthrates are lower and baby care categories are highly saturated, growth will be spurred by innovation and premiumisation while in developing markets, increasing demand will be the biggest growth driver." 

When it comes to attributes in choosing the brand and type of diaper to buy for their babies, more than half of consumers in Vietnam identify skin protection/good for sensitive skin (53 percent) as key factors influencing their purchase decisions. 

Around a third identify price/value and overnight dryness (33 percent) as the second most important attributes, along with good fit /comfortable to wear (27 percent) and trusted brand (26 percent).

The Nielsen report highlights the importance of recommendations from family and friends and TV advertising as sources of information for new parents in learning about which baby food to buy for their babies for the first time. 

For nearly three in five Vietnamese consumers (56 percent), recommendations from friends/family have the most effect on their purchase decisions related to baby food, followed by seeing an advertisement on TV (50 percent) and recommendations from baby health experts (47 percent). 

Online influences from parenting websites (41 percent), parenting magazines (39 percent) and social media (33 percent) also have a big influence on their first-time purchase decisions.

When it comes to influencing purchase of diapers, close to half of consumers (49 percent) say recommendations from family and friends have the most significant influence on their purchase decisions followed by recommendation from baby health experts (32 percent) and TV advertising (29 percent).

Nielsen estimates the global baby food/formula sales to reach nearly 30 billion USD in 2015, and the global diaper market to exceed 29 billion USD. 

The Nielsen Global Baby Care Survey was conducted online between February 23 and March 13 this year, and polled people in 60 countries around the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America who have made a baby care purchase in the past five years.-VNA