In 2013, China surpassed the United States and Japan as the largest online retail market in the world, with sales exceeding $300 billion. Yet the upward trend in China’s e-commerce market could be seen for years leading up to this mark, as the online shopping sector of China’s urban population rose from 10% in 2006 to 23% in 2010.
Amidst this rapid growth in online retail, one type of buyer in China’s e-commerce market was notably underserved: new Gen Y mothers. Financially independent and digitally savvy, most of these women had grown up as only children and were embarking upon a journey of motherhood for the first time.
Seeing an opportunity to bond with this emerging segment of China’s population during a critical life stage, Procter & Gamble partnered with Continuum to design a branded online experience that catered to the particular needs, worries, and expectations of China’s Gen Y moms.
Research & Insights
Meeting Every Need
In interviews with Gen Y mothers in China, we discovered the complex reactions many were having toward motherhood. As only children, they were accustomed to being the center of domestic attention—whether they liked it or not. This made the arrival of a newborn baby bittersweet for some women, as it represented their transition out of the family spotlight, and into a new role as attention- and support-giver. For these new mothers, the ideal shopping experience fulfilled emotional as well as material needs, making them feel as though they were providing for themselves alongside their babies.
A Trusted Source
Every decision a new mother makes is fraught with emotion—everything from hiring a caretaker to buying baby wipes. As a new consumer in the marketplace for childcare products, the Gen Y mother in China needed guidance and product recommendations from a resource she trusted. (Many women rely on online reviews to discern what brands and products are best for their new babies.) Whether shopping for herself, her child, or another family member, China’s Gen Y mom wanted a platform where she could efficiently browse, read, categorize, and compare authentic reviews from her most trusted information source: other mothers.
Spending More for Safety
Our research also revealed that Gen Y Chinese moms will pay a premium for products that are not just high quality, but that provide assurances of safety. Product safety scandals are ubiquitous in China, and the flood of inferior goods and false advertisements into the country’s e-commerce market has eroded consumer trust in online retailers over the last decade. The savvy Gen Y mom will spend substantially at an online retailer, but only if she is convinced that the site’s merchandise has been certified as safe for children.
Continuum partnered with P&G to launch an e-commerce strategy and branded online experience that was both functionally intuitive and emotionally resonant for its target audience. PiaoLiangMaMa (“beautiful mother” in English) provided an online retail experience that delivered on its brand promise to China’s Gen Y mothers: “For your baby, baby yourself.”
The website’s visual design, tone, and infrastructure came together to create a relaxed and trustworthy environment in which a new mother could shop for herself, her baby, and her family without worry.
In September 2012, P&G re-launched their flagship webstore on Tmall with PiaoLiangMaMa. In November 2012, the store set a single-day record high of 180,000 orders.
In September 2012, P&G re-launched their flagship online store on Tmall.com, a massive B2C retail site operated by Alibaba, with the new e-commerce platform. Just two months after launch, in November 2012, the online store set a new single-day sales record of 180,000 orders.