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Accessing the ASEAN Consumer Market: Baby and Maternity Products (Distribution Channels)

Mothercare – A British baby product retailer with strong presence in ASEAN.

In Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, the distribution channels for baby and maternity products are diverse, and each comes with its own strengths and shortcomings.

Nursery and Infant Product Shops

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Nursery and infant product shops, monobrand and multibrand alike, have been popping up in key cities over the past few years, and they have become one of the major distribution channels in the mother and baby products market. The main advantages of these specialty shops are the availability of sales personnel who can provide professional advices to customers, and the convenience of having immediate access to a wide range of baby products in one shop.

However, the retail landscape in ASEAN has been disrupted by the rapid growth of online marketplaces, such as Lazada. In response to the changing consumer expectations, most nursery and infant retailers in ASEAN have move towards omnichannel retailing and created their own online shops to offer greater convenience and a seamless shopping experience to their customers.

Nursery and Baby Product Shops Are Seeking New and Exclusive Products

The high fragmentation means baby product retailers are open to working with many manufacturers and brands to enrich their product range and the depth of their value-added services. They are constantly seeking new and exclusive products that parents will need. A manufacturer or supplier with unique products should have little difficulty entering the ASEAN retail market.

Hong Kong suppliers must first understand the positioning and target customer segment of the retailer they wish to approach. They need to show how their products can meet and satisfy the needs of that customer segment or add value to the retailer’s existing offering. Nursery and infant retailers are happy to work with both established and emerging brands as long as they are offering differentiated product concepts. A successful baby product is one that can satisfy parents’ practical or emotional needs at a competitive price.

Manufacturers and suppliers who want to sell through this channel have to bear in mind that, except when it comes to world-renowned and popular brands, retailers do not purchase wholesale. They prefer consignment agreements to minimize their risks.

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