China’s growing consumer market demands high-quality baby products
Greenville entrepreneur Vivian Wong has launched a new manufacturing venture into one of the largest markets in the world, China. The company – BabyBlossom – leverages North America’s manufacturing reputation with plans to export non-toxic, baby-safe products just as China phases out its 1970s one-child policy.
Not only that, but Chinese consumers harbor a lingering distrust of Asian-made baby products in the wake of the 2008 tainted milk scandal that lead to nearly 300,000 cases of sick babies in the country. The episode inspired Wong to build Quality of Life Brands and begin the BabyBlossom line of nutrition, personal care and home care products, according to BabyBlossom CEO Matthew Van Patton.
“I think the Chinese formula [story] really resonated with her,” said the father of three, who noted that Wong herself has four children and eight grandchildren. “For us, the opportunity is vast because the Chinese consumer wants and demands a better quality product. They prefer things made in the USA.”
Van Patton began working on BabyBlossom 18 months ago, and is currently working to secure strategic partnerships with distributors and retailers for the company’s products. He declined to disclose sales or revenue goals.
He noted, however, that BabyBlossom could viably become a $50 million to $60 million company in the next five years. The company’s U.S. manufacturers – located in Vermont and North Carolina currently – were chosen for their ability to ramp up their just-in-time manufacturing rapidly, which gives BabyBlossom virtually unlimited production capacity.
BabyBlossom uses proprietary formulas that have been stripped of all unnecessary dyes, fragrances, synthetic preservatives and parabens, which are often the leading causes of issues with baby products, he said.
“A baby can’t tell you, ‘This smells unpleasant to me,’ or ‘This makes my eyes itch,’” said Van Patton. “We wanted to create a true lifestyle brand for parents that were focused on wellness.”
Van Patton said Wong’s U.S. manufacturing and overseas business connections were vital to the venture, as well as assistance with legal barriers and import challenges to serving the Chinese market.
“That’s the challenge of Asia, but that’s also the beauty of Ms. Wong’s brain,” he said. “She sees the pathways into the market… and I’m much more tactical.”
BabyBlossom products could find additional markets in the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Malaysia. Van Patton said the company plans to launch other brands in the baby products, food and nutrition and beauty verticals, all three of which are some areas for cross-border e-commerce in China.
“It’s not an easy proposition,” he said. “It could grow very, very quickly.”