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How can IMF manufacturers grow their brands?



How can IMF manufacturers grow their brands?

In the past few years, Chinese IMF (Infant milk formula) category’s growth has slowed down due to the continuous decline in the birth rate and a lower baby population in China,

IMF manufacturers need to address this challenge of a decreasing baby population between the ages of 0-3 years and find new opportunities to grow the category and their brands.

One of the opportunities to offset this challenge is to focus more on IMF Stage 4 which targets 3 to 6 years old kids.

According to Kantar Worldpanel Baby & Kids panel, in the past 52 weeks ending on Feb 2021, urban domestic sales of IMF Stage 4 jumped almost 34% on a year-on-year basis and its penetration reached 9.3%.

Since Stage 4 is now the most rapidly growing segment compared to Stage 1-3, how can manufacturers play big on this growing segment and attract more new consumers?


Identify the growing nutrient demands for kids

IMF Stage 1-3 has already seen a huge demand for ingredients such as lactoferrin, OPO, A2 protein. Will there be a similar trend in IMF Stage 4?


Looking at the category performance for IMF Stage 4 before and after Covid-19 outbreak, its market value grew to a new record high.

This shows that parents now attach more importance to their kid’s health and are also purchasing IMF Stage 4 due to some specific health concerns for their kids.

Therefore, it is essential that manufacturers keep following the demands of a growing nutritional ingredients trend to attract more new buyers.


 Establish a clear positioning for IMF stage 4 vs. other supplementary categories

The diet structure of kids over 3 years are different from that of the babies.For kids over 3 years, IMF is just a supplementary feeding option.


Other options such as kid snacks, kid nutrient supplements and kid liquid milk can act as replacements for IMF stage 4.

Moreover, there is quite a number of kids age 3+ who still have IMF Stage 3 meant for babies less than 3 years.

Thus, manufacturers need to establish a clear positioning for IMF Stage 4 and its unique benefits with effective communications and emphasize its nutritional value, advantages vs. other categories.


 Adapt to Omni channel activation strategy

The main channel of IMF S1-S3 are e-commerce and baby stores.In terms of IMF S4, besides those two, hypermarkets and supermarkets are of high importance. Manufacturers need to develop an agile and flexible Omni channel strategy based on segment characteristics.


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Managing Director, Great China


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