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Consumer Lifestyles: Meet the Little Emperors - China - November 2012

“China’s ‘Little Emperors’ are the youth of the country’s nascent emerging middle class. Growing up in families with higher-than-average discretionary incomes, no siblings and active grandparents, they are the beneficiaries of rising expenditure on children. However, a rigid education system and a heavy burden of expectation means that they are under pressure to succeed while the absence of ‘second chance parenting’ leads many parents to seek to protect their child through spending on items that they believe will safeguard their future.”

– Matthew Crabbe, Research Director

Some questions answered in this report include:

  • How the phenomenon of The Little Emperors emerged
  • Is there a gender imbalance?
  • What are the consequences of the one-child policy?
  • What has brought about the Little Emperor phenomenon?

 

Report Description:

China’s One-Child Policy was launched in 1979, just after the population topped 1 billion, and was aimed at drastically reducing the rapid population growth. As a result, more than eight in ten Chinese families in tier 1 and tier 2 cities now have only one child, the so-called “Little Emperor”. The major social consequence of the One-Child Policy has been that expectations for the Little Emperors are now exceptionally high.

As parents don’t get a second chance to conceive, the pressure not to fail in raising their only child is intense. It created the now infamous images of the rather stereotypical, but not wholly inaccurate, representation of ‘Tiger Mums’. These mothers tend to be hyper-involved in all aspects of their children’s upbringing and push their Little Emperors towards academic success, even at the expense of their leisure time. This pressure to succeed leads to a heavy investment in babies and young children, in order to improve their education, career and future earnings prospects, whilst also catering to their every need. However, as a result of mollycoddling, only children develop expectations of their own, as to what they should be provided with as they grow up.

This report delves into how the modern urban Chinese middle class family operates and structures itself around the single child, which is crucial to understanding how to design, market and sell a range of products and services to this important consumersegment. Quite simply, brands and manufacturers ignore the Little Emperor at their peril.

 

 

Liqueurs - UK - January 2012

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Methodology
        • Definitions
        • Executive Summary

            • Decreasing proportion of Chinese youngsters
              • Figure 1: Age structure of Chinese population, 2002-11
            • Multi-generational households
              • Figure 2: Household composition, by parents’ age, July 2012
            • Uptake of paid extra-curricular activities is high
              • Figure 3: Additional paid classes, July 2012
            • Nearly half of Little Emperors get pocket money from grandparents
              • Figure 4: Sources of child’s pocket money, July 2012
            • Necessities are prioritised
              • Figure 5: What monthly income is spent on average, July 2012
            • Children in Tier 1 cities lead technology ownership
              • Figure 6: Children’s product ownership, July 2012
            • A day in the life of a Little Emperor
              • Figure 7: A child’s day – average time spent on each activity, July 2012
          • Market Background

            • Key points
              • How the phenomenon of The Little Emperors emerged
                • Evidence of gender imbalance
                  • Figure 8: Age structure of Chinese population, by gender, 2002 and 2011
                • History of the One-Child Policy
                  • Figure 9: China population statistics, 2011
                • Exceptions to the One-Child Policy
                  • Figure 10: Urban exemptions to the One-Child Policy, 2011*
                • One child, six incomes
                  • The emergence of the middle class
                    • Early retirement leads to active involvement of grandparents
                    • Current Living Situation

                      • Key points
                        • Property ownership
                          • Figure 11: Property ownership and number of bedrooms in the property, July 2012
                        • Type of property owned
                          • Figure 12: Type of primary residence, July 2012
                        • Who Little Emperors live with
                          • Figure 13: Household composition, by parents’ age, July 2012
                        • Over nine in ten Little Emperors have their own space
                          • Figure 14: Children’s living arrangements, July 2012
                        • Presence of domestic help
                          • Figure 15: Presence of domestic help in the household, July 2012
                      • The Next Generation of Little Emperors

                        • Key points
                          • Childcare arrangements
                            • Figure 16: Daycare arrangements, July 2012
                          • Baby personal care purchases
                            • Figure 17: Baby products bought in the past 12 months, July 2012
                          • Preference for foreign brands of nappies
                            • Figure 18: Brands of disposable nappies bought in the past 12 months, July 2012
                          • Advertising illustrates benefits of wearing nappies
                            • Parents look for 'natural' credentials
                              • Figure 19: Attitudes towards nappies, July 2012
                            • Baby food and drink purchases
                              • Figure 20: How the child is fed, July 2012
                            • Parents' anxieties fuel preference for foreign brands of baby formula
                              • Figure 21: Brand of infant formula used, July 2012
                            • Taking a baby around
                              • Figure 22: Items used to transport the child, July 2012
                            • Older parents focus on fitness of toddlers
                              • Figure 23: Attitudes towards transport of the child, July 2012
                          • Education of Little Emperors

                            • Key points
                              • Parents' educational aspirations for Little Emperors
                                • Figure 24: Type of degree intended for child, July 2012
                              • Parents aged 20-39 more likely to opt for private school
                                • Figure 25: Type of school the child attends, July 2012
                              • Extra-curricular activities enhance academic credentials
                                • Figure 26: Additional paid classes, July 2012
                              • Parents wish for a brighter future for their offspring
                                • Figure 27: Willingness to fund the child’s studies abroad, July 2012
                              • American institutions are favoured
                                • Figure 28: Preferred country for child’s studies abroad, July 2012
                              • Attitudes towards supporting children financially
                                • Figure 29: Financial impact of covering child’s education, July 2012
                            • Spending Power of Little Emperors

                              • Key points
                                • Sources of children’s income
                                  • Figure 30: Sources of child’s income, July 2012
                                • Fathers aged 40-49 most generous with offspring
                                  • Figure 31: Amount of monthly allowance, July 2012
                                • Mothers require more discipline from Little Emperors
                                  • Figure 32: Condition monthly allowance is based on, July 2012
                                • Higher-income families attach fewer conditions to pocket money
                                  • Figure 33: Condition monthly allowance is based on, by household income, July 2012
                                • Children’s financial product ownership
                                  • Figure 34: Savings account and insurance policies set up for child, July 2012
                                • Focus on education
                                  • Figure 35: Attitudes towards the child’s development and family finances, July 2012
                                • Boys more vocal about what they want
                                  • Figure 36: Attitudes towards the child’s development and family finances, by gender of child, July 2012
                              • Family Spending Habits

                                • Key points
                                  • What families spend extra income on
                                    • Figure 37: Monthly discretionary expenditure, July 2012
                                  • Spending on necessities is prioritised
                                    • Figure 38: What monthly income is spent on average, July 2012
                                  • Clothing purchases for children
                                    • Figure 39: Branded children’s clothing bought, July 2012
                                  • Girls prefer international brands of casualwear
                                    • Figure 40: Sportswear brands bought for child, July 2012
                                  • Attitudes towards buying clothes for children
                                    • Figure 41: Attitudes towards child’s clothing, July 2012
                                  • Dads are more lenient with Little Emperors
                                    • Figure 42: Attitudes towards child’s clothing, by gender of parent, July 2012
                                  • Children’s device ownership
                                    • Figure 43: Children’s product ownership, July 2012
                                  • Children’s mobile phone ownership
                                    • Figure 44: Brand of smartphone owned by child, July 2012
                                • Family Leisure and Holiday Habits

                                  • Key points
                                    • Family holiday habits
                                      • Figure 45: Holidays taken in the past 12 months, July 2012
                                    • Overseas travel is growing
                                      • Figure 46: Holidays taken in the past 12 months, July 2012
                                    • Family leisure activities
                                      • Figure 47: Family leisure activities done regularly, July 2012
                                  • A Day in the Life of a Little Emperor

                                    • Key points
                                      • A child’s typical day
                                        • Figure 48: A child’s day – average time spent on each activity, July 2012
                                      • Who takes care of children?
                                        • Figure 49: The child’s support network, July 2012
                                      • How connected are children with other family members?
                                        • Figure 50: People the child spends time with – average time spent with each, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – Current Living Situation

                                        • Figure 51: Type of primary residence, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 52: Number of bedrooms in property, July 2012
                                        • Figure 53: Number of bedrooms in property, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 54: Type of property ownership, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 55: Household composition, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 56: The child’s living arrangements, July 2012
                                        • Figure 57: The child’s living arrangements, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 58: Presence of domestic help, July 2012
                                        • Figure 59: Presence of domestic help, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 60: Presence of domestic help, by demographics, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – The Next Generation of Little Emperors

                                        • Figure 61: Daycare arrangements, July 2012
                                        • Figure 62: Daycare arrangements, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 63: Baby products bought, July 2012
                                        • Figure 64: Most popular baby products bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 65: Next most popular baby products bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 66: Other baby products bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 67: Brands of disposable nappies bought, July 2012
                                        • Figure 68: Most popular brands of disposable nappies bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 69: Next most popular brands of disposable nappies bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 70: Other brands of disposable nappies bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 71: Attitudes towards nappies, July 2012
                                        • Figure 72: Most popular attitudes towards nappies, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 73: Next most popular attitudes towards nappies, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 74: How the child is fed, July 2012
                                        • Figure 75: Most popular how the child is fed, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 76: Next most popular how the child is fed, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 77: Brand of infant formula used, July 2012
                                        • Figure 78: Most popular brand of infant formula used, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 79: Next most popular brand of infant formula used, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 80: Items used to transport the child, July 2012
                                        • Figure 81: Car seat/booster car seats used to transport the child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 82: Pushchair/buggy used to transport the child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 83: Sling used to transport the child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 84: Back carriers used to transport the child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 85: Travel cot used to transport the child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 86: Attitudes towards transport of the child, July 2012
                                        • Figure 87: Most popular attitudes towards transport of the child, by demographics, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – Education of Little Emperors

                                        • Figure 88: Type of degree intended for child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 89: Type of school the child attends, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 90: Most popular additional classes paid for, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 91: Next most popular additional classes paid for, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 92: Most popular willingness to fund the child’s studies abroad, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 93: Most popular financial impact of child’s education, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 94: Next most popular financial impact of child’s education, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 95: Agreement with the statements ‘Independence is an important treat a child has to learn’ and ‘I am teaching trying to teach my child to be independent’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 96: Agreement with the statements ‘I would like to offer my child a carefree childhood free from pressure’ and ‘I don’t want my child to feel pressured all the time’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 97: Agreement with the statements ‘I want my child to focus on its education instead of wasting time on activities such as watching TV’ and ‘Study is the most important activity for my child’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 98: Agreement with the statements ‘If I want to buy something for myself, I first check if I cannot better spend that money on my child’ and ‘I am concerned about my child’s ability to live independently after it leaves home’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 99: Agreement with the statements ‘My child has a significant influence on household decisions ie what food is bought, where to go on holiday etc’ and ‘I need to purchase a property for my child before he/she gets married’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 100: Agreement with the statements ‘I am worried about our financial situation if I try to fulfil all my child’s needs’ and ‘I cut back on household expenditures to pay for items my child would like to have’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 101: Agreement with the statements ‘I want my child to pursue the career that we as parents have chosen for him/her’ and ‘My child will always be able to rely on us financially independent of his/her age’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 102: Agreement with the statement ‘I am likely to struggle financially once my child grows older’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 103: Most popular attitudes towards the child’s development and financial burden (any agree), by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 104: Next most popular attitudes towards the child’s development and financial burden (any agree), by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 105: Other attitudes towards the child’s development and financial burden (any agree), by demographics, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – Spending Power of Little Emperors

                                        • Figure 106: The child’s income, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 107: Condition monthly allowance is based on, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 108: Savings account set up for child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 109: Insurance policies set up for child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 110: Type of degree intended for child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 111: Type of school the child attends, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 112: Most popular additional classes paid for, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 113: Next most popular additional classes paid for, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 114: Most popular willingness to fund the child’s studies abroad, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 115: Most popular financial impact of child’s education, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 116: Next most popular financial impact of child’s education, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 117: Agreement with the statements ‘Independence is an important treat a child has to learn’ and ‘I am teaching trying to teach my child to be independent’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 118: Agreement with the statements ‘I would like to offer my child a carefree childhood free from pressure’ and ‘I don’t want my child to feel pressured all the time’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 119: Agreement with the statements ‘I want my child to focus on its education instead of wasting time on activities such as watching TV’ and ‘Study is the most important activity for my child’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 120: Agreement with the statements ‘If I want to buy something for myself, I first check if I cannot better spend that money on my child’ and ‘I am concerned about my child’s ability to live independently after it leaves home’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 121: Agreement with the statements ‘My child has a significant influence on household decisions ie what food is bought, where to go on holiday etc’ and ‘I need to purchase a property for my child before he/she gets married’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 122: Agreement with the statements ‘I am worried about our financial situation if I try to fulfil all my child’s needs’ and ‘I cut back on household expenditures to pay for items my child would like to have’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 123: Agreement with the statements ‘I want my child to pursue the career that we as parents have chosen for him/her’ and ‘My child will always be able to rely on us financially independent of his/her age’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 124: Agreement with the statement ‘I am likely to struggle financially once my child grows older’, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 125: Most popular attitudes towards the child’s development and financial burden (any agree), by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 126: Next most popular attitudes towards the child’s development and financial burden (any agree), by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 127: Other attitudes towards the child’s development and financial burden (any agree), by demographics, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – Family Spending Habits

                                        • Figure 128: Most popular branded children’s clothing bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 129: Next most popular branded children’s clothing bought, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 130: Sportswear brands bought for child, July 2012
                                        • Figure 131: Most popular sportswear brands bought for child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 132: Next most popular sportswear brands bought for child, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 133: Most popular attitudes towards child’s clothing, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 134: Next most popular attitudes towards child’s clothing, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 135: Most popular products in child’s possession, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 136: Next most popular products in child’s possession, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 137: Other products in child’s possession, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 138: Brand of smartphone owned by child, July 2012
                                        • Figure 139: Most popular monthly discretionary expenditure, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 140: Next most popular monthly discretionary expenditure, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 141: Other monthly discretionary expenditure, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 142: What monthly income is spent on, July 2012
                                        • Figure 143: Most popular what monthly income is spent on, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 144: Next most popular what monthly income is spent on, by demographics, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – Family Leisure and Holiday Habits

                                        • Figure 145: Holidays taken in the past 12 months, July 2012
                                        • Figure 146: Most popular any holidays taken in the past 12 months, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 147: Next most popular any holidays taken in the past 12 months, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 148: Other any holidays taken in the past 12 months, by demographics, July 2012
                                        • Figure 149: Leisure activities, July 2012
                                    • Appendix – A Day in the Life of a Little Emperor

                                        • Figure 150: A child’s day – overview, July 2012
                                        • Figure 151: A child’s day – overview, July 2012
                                        • Figure 152: People the child spends time with, July 2012
                                        • Figure 153: Attitudes towards children’s discipline and upbringing, July 2012

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                                    Consumer Lifestyles: Meet the Little Emperors - China - November 2012

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