South Korea is experiencing its lowest-ever birthrate, at 1.05 births per mother in 2017. Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration declared in July that the government will put KRW 900 billion (USD 804 million) to elevate the nation’s fertility rate. However, on the contrary, the baby market in the country continues thriving and has reached CHF 2.2 billion in size. This phenomenon attributes to the increase in the amount of money spent for each baby; the average spending per baby was CHF 5,000 in 2015, a double of that in 2009. Among the dynamics in the market, one of the remarkable changes is that information technology is emerging in the baby market and the new generation of parents, who grew up with computers and smartphones, now seek to bring IT solutions into their parenthood.
Market for smart baby devices
Telecommunication companies are at the forefront of applying information technology to wearable devices for kids. KT, South Korea’s second largest mobile carrier, forecasted that the market for ICT devices to prevent children from missing, will increase to KRW 66 billion (USD 60 million). All three mobile carriers, KT, SK and LG are providing mobile devices with GPS technology through which parents may track where their children are located. Conventional baby product markets are also expected to evolve with IoT technologies. Samsung Electronics is developing a baby carrier which detects baby’s biorhythm and sends the information to smartphones. Among other categories where the data-driven parenting is seen are ‘smart scale’, which enables parents to collect information on the breast-feeding when a nursing bottle is placed on a scale, baby chairs equipped with speakers connected with smartphones, diaper monitors distinguishing between urine and faces, and, most notably, smartphone applications. Parents use apps to record all sorts of details of feeding their babies, to be offered with home remedies according to a baby’s temperature and to exchange information with other parents. As these rising baby markets have potential to grow and expand, Swiss companies with state-of-art GPS, IoT and AI technologies may benefit from the high-tech trend when seeking opportunities in South Korea.
Opportunities at baby fairs
The said new and emerging categories are only parts of the fast changing baby market in South Korea and the up-to-date technologies are often showcased in baby fairs. There are more than 80 baby fairs in South Korea, reflecting consumers’ fever to seek better products for their child. Held twice a year in Seoul, ‘BeFe Babyfair’ is one of the biggest baby product exhibitions in the country where 40% of exhibitors are from overseas. The next one will take place on 23-26 August 2018.
If you seek for opportunities or a test-bed in Asia, Korea is the place where the fever for baby products never ends. Do not hesitate to contact Jacqueline Tschumi, Consultant for South Korea at S-GE, to find better opportunities. Email