According to the Department of Statistics, Malaysia\u2019s current population estimates as at Q1 2019 rose by 1.1% to 32.66 million from 32.29 million in the last quarter of 2018. \u00a0Live births recorded in the first three months of 2019 numbered 116,850.\r\nEconomic Growth & A Rising Middle Class\r\nIn the same period, Malaysia\u2019s economy registered a growth of 4.5% with all sectors in the economy posting positive growth while median household income across all three different income groups (T20, M40 and B40) showed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 6%.\r\n\r\nMalaysia\u2019s middle class (M40) households have registered the highest growth in median income, according to the Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey 2019 research findings from DoSM.\r\n\r\nAt the current growth rate, Malaysia is expected to achieve high income country status by 2024, said the World Bank.\r\n\r\nIn the labour market Q1 2019, both labour force and employed persons of both sexes have increased 0.5% at the first quarter of 2019 as compared to Q4 of 2018 bringing the total number of employed persons in Malaysia to 15.53 million people. Female Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has increased 0.1% to 55.7% in Q1 2019 where 6.06 million Malaysian women in the 25 to 54 years age bracket are working.\r\nNumbers Don\u2019t Lie\r\nThe numbers above point to a bouyant, progressive economy but how do these numbers translate to the performance of one of the fastest growing industries in the country?\r\n\r\nWith so many antenatal and postnatal healthcare requirements for mothers and an increasing array of products and services catered for babies and growing children, Malaysia\u2019s maternity and baby industry is a force to be reckoned with.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBusinesses serving the needs of this segment of society have reported seeing an upswing in earnings spurred by the fact that Malaysian parents are brand conscious and prefer using products from well-known companies even if it means spending more.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s a business buoyed not just by our growing population but also by the fact that\r\nmore and more women of mothering age are in the workforce.\r\n\r\nThis leads to higher disposable household incomes where young middle class families add to an increase in consumer spending, not just for the couple\u2019s wellbeing but also for maternity needs and childcare.\r\n\r\nThe growth of the maternity and baby product and services market is thus aligned to these statistics and in fact, Nielsen \u2500 a global, independent measurement and data\u00a0company\u00a0for fast-moving consumer goods and behavior \u2500 says that Malaysia's\u00a0population growth is expected to hit 34.9 million by the year 2025, out of which 23% will be represented by newborns, infants and children.\r\nMothers and the Baby Business Boom\r\n\r\n\r\nThe baby business boom is further aided by rapid urbanisation, rising education levels, the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as online consumerism.\r\n\r\nFurthermore, the country\u2019s growing pool of working mothers also act as the facilitator for further industry growth.\u00a0 Mothers, more than fathers, take a keen interest in their children\u2019s wellbeing. As the main decision makers for their children\u2019s purchases, they have the financial capability, digital connection and the techno-savvy to make informed decisions about which products and services are best for their children.\r\nBuilding Brand Trust\r\nOver on the brand side, awareness of a brand and ultimately trusting a brand play a big role in directing parents to make those informed decisions. \u00a0Apart from looking for quality, innovation, and practical usability in a product, parents or would-be consumers of a brand also look at brand value generated by the level of trust in that brand. The higher the level of trust, the more valuable the brand is deemed and the more likely a consumer will buy into it. Brand trust is often built and communicated through marketing and advertising.\r\nHow Big Can It Get?\r\nAccording to Inkwood Research, the projected growth rate of the baby product market across the Asia Pacific babycare market (Malaysia included) is anticipated to be 4.21% CAGR during 2019 \u2500 2027. \u00a0The Asia Pacific holds 30.45% of the global market share. Products include baby hygiene products like diapers, wipes, lotions and other accessories. Natural and non-toxic baby products in emerging markets are opening up new doors for the baby care market.\r\n\r\nAt a glance, you can see that the baby products market growth rate is fueled by the following factors:\r\n\r\n\r\nA Pie Divided into Three\r\nThe mother\/baby market can roughly be divided into three segments. Each segment is a revenue earner for the industry as a whole and each segment\u2019s worth is determined by how much it costs a have and raise a baby from pregnancy to the end of childhood.\r\n1. Pregnancy \u2500 Antenatal, Delivery and Postnatal Care and Requirements\r\nThe moment a mother is pregnant, she is required to go for regular antenatal checkups. Depending on which type of hospital (whether government or private) she chooses to go to, antenatal checkups taken at monthly and then bi-monthly intervals at private or specialist centres could span a range of prices.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tHospital Charges\r\n\r\nRoughly, the basic fee for antenatal checkups at private facilities could cost anywhere from RM150 to RM200 per session. 3D and 4D ultrasound scans, fetal well-being scans, presentation scans and all the various bloodtests, screenings and injections taken throughout the three trimesters are calculated separately and could cost up to RM500 per test\/scan\/diagnosis.\r\n\r\nDelivery charges for normal delivery could range anywhere from RM300 at government hospitals to RM8,000 at private hospitals. For Caesarian section, government hospitals charge RM200 to RM800 while private hospitals charge anything from RM8000 to RM12,000. This fee does not include Emergency Cesarean which could go as high as RM17,000 if not more.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tMaternity Products, Supplements and Protection\r\n\r\nThe above are just the hospital charges and do not include other prerequisite costs such as pregnancy gear and pregnancy supplements. A pregnant woman could spend up to thousands per pregnancy accommodating her changing psyche and physique as well as nutrient needs.\u00a0 She may also invest in Prenatal insurance and Stemcell Cryocording.\r\n\r\nGenerally-speaking, a pregnant mother has many needs and some of them are:\r\n\r\na) Supplements such as prenatal vitamins like folic acid, vitamin D, iron, calcium, essential fatty acids and so on. There is a whole range of pharmaceuticals of various brands catering to the nutritional needs of mothers who may not be able to obtain the optimal levels of nutrition through food alone due to allergies, nausea, severe vomiting and so on. \u00a0\u00a0\r\n\r\nb) Reading Materials on pregnancy such as good guide books.\r\n\r\nc) Body Care Products such as creams, oils and moisturisers to prevent stretchmarks, dry, itchy skin; the right toothpaste for those gum bleeds and other safe beauty products and toiletries.\r\n\r\nd) Maternity Support Products such as a belly belt to support the stomach and pregnancy pillows to provide support for the spine as the belly grows larger.\r\n\r\ne) Comfortable, low-heeled shoes.\r\n\r\nf) A new set of Bras to accommodate the growing breasts, and later, breastfeeding bras and breast pads.\r\n\r\ng) Maternity Clothes that are comfortable and loose-fitting.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tInsurance Coverage\r\n\r\nPregnant mothers should also need to take preventive protective care against unforeseen circumstances during pregnancy. In Malaysia, quite a number of insurance companies provide coverage\u00a0for\u00a0pregnancy\u00a0and childbirth complications.\r\n\r\nPregnancy complications include high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, infections, preeclampsia, preterm labour and miscarriages. The newborn too may face conditions such as premature birth, cleft palate or other more serious conditions. These are covered in prenatal insurance. The cost of a plan depends on the mother\u2019s age, state of health and the minimum sum assured.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tCord Blood Banking\r\n\r\nCord Blood Banking is a relatively new development in Malaysia where the baby\u2019s umbilical cord blood is freeze-stored for later use should he or his family need it.\u00a0 Cord blood\u00a0is rich in stem cells. It has the potential to treat more than 80 types of diseases that harm the blood\u00a0and immune system such as leukemia and certain cancers, sickle-cell anemia, and many other metabolic disorders. For this reason, parents can opt to store their baby\u2019s cord blood.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tPostnatal Care \u2500 Confinement Centres\r\n\r\nThe postnatal care industry is a flourishing one where traditional confinement nannies compete shoulder-to-shoulder with 5-star postpartum centres designed to provide the most professional and most luxurious postnatal care to the new mother and baby. The choice of choosing one option over the other is up to the parents of course. Suffice to say, the postnatal care industry is a highly-demanded service as can be seen by the mushrooming of confinement centres and agencies all over the country of late.\r\n\r\nTraditional live-in confinement nannies are still very much in demand. Fees for these confinement nannies range from RM3500 to RM5500 (to RM8000 a month if needed during the festive season) which exclude the obligatory \u201cangpow\u201d of between RM200 and RM500 that her employers will need to give on top of the stated fees.\r\n\r\nConfinement centres charge a lot more. Depending on the type of accommodation and facilities ranging from twin-sharing to private suites, and packages for essentials such as baby care, as well as add-ons like massage services and the number of days a mother wants to stay, prices could range from RM6000 to RM40,000.\r\n2. Baby \u2500 From Newborn to Toddlerhood\r\nBeginning from the moment she is born, a baby\u2019s medical expenses will begin at the hospital. If she is born premature and needs the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, baby\u2019s first days in a private hospital could cost up to RM7000 depending on the hospital. If the problem is neonatal jaundice, it could cost RM1500 and above, depending on how many days the baby has to be on phototherapy. Thereafter, baby will have to see a paediatrician three to five days after birth and then regularly at almost every month or at every other month or at regular intervals every few months to receive checkups, vaccinations and monitor his development until the child is two years old.\r\nExpenditure on Baby Items\u00a0\r\nExpenditure on baby items could run into tens of thousands in the first year with the range of baby products running the gamut from baby booties and bottles to sophisticated car seats and strollers. This is how wide and varied the baby product industry can be and will, by no means, be limited by the amount of innovation that will go into improving and developing the variants of each of these products.\r\n\r\nThe moment baby goes home from hospital, spending will begin with these two very high recurrent costs:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\na) Formula Milk\r\n\r\nIf choosing to bottlefeed, baby will need a total of 40 tins of 500g formula, 44 tins of 450g formula, or 51 tins of 400g formula\u00a0 during the first six months of life. Per tin of newborn formula costs around RM60 to RM120 in Malaysia depending on the brand. Generally speaking, expenditure on infant formula if calculated at RM100 per tin will cost RM4000 for the first six months of baby's life.\r\n\r\nThe Asia Pacific infant formula market is projected to achieve a 10% CAGR from 2019 to 2025, according to research from Global Newswire.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nb) Diapers \r\n\r\nA baby aged between one and five months usually uses eight to 10 diapers per day. Babies who are exclusively breastfed tend to go through more diapers than those who drink formula. This is because breast milk is easier to digest than formula, so it leads to more frequent bowel movements and more diapers. Over the first three months, babies go through about 700 diapers. As baby\u2019s bladder grows with age, they will need fewer diapers, like five or six a day. On average a baby can go through 2,200 diapers in the first year alone.\r\n\r\nAt a cost of RM72.00 for 90 pieces of newborn disposable diapers, the diaper industry could see parents spending RM555 or so on diapers over the course of three months alone. Larger sized diapers cost more, so over the course of a year, 2200 medium sized diapers costing an average of RM1.70 each could cost a parent RM3700 in diapering bills. This is not inclusive of the thousands upon thousands of sheets of baby wipes a parent would have to use to clean baby at every diaper change.\r\n\r\nAccording to Euromonitor International Limited, Malaysia's preference for disposable diapers continued to grow in 2018 as consumers value the convenience these products offer.\r\n\r\nParents tend to be more careful and less experimental, often relying on family or friends\u2019 recommendations as to which brands to use. Brand loyalty is strong as parents opt for products that are of high quality and yet affordable.\r\n\r\nThey demand nappies\/diapers\/pants with high absorbency, no leakage, a good fit and which are gentle on the skin. Due to late child-bearing and increasing awareness, young Malaysian parents are willing to spend on their babies, with most consumers inclined towards mid-priced products, while some opt for premium brands.\r\n\r\nEveryday Needs Prepared Before Baby's Arrival\r\n\r\nThe following items are the necessities which should have been bought before baby\u2019s arrival. As can be seen, the essential checklist before her arrival would include a wide scope of products, each of them having its own assortment of makes, brands and price range:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n3. Toddlers to School Age Kids\r\nAs the child grows older, her needs will change to include spending on items necessary for her age and requirements. The trend will eventually shift from products and nutrition to their educational needs.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \tToddler Clothing including shoes and socks (Apparel itself is a huge revenue-earning industry with toddler wear designed for practical use as well as to make fashion statements).\r\n \tWeaning and Baby foods such as growing up milk, cereals, canned, bottled purees.\r\n\r\nMarket Research.com says there is a growing market for convenience foods and an increasing number of working women who are the ideal consumer base for prepared baby meals. In fact, in Malaysia in 2018, the great bulk of baby food sales are of milks, with dehydrated cereals a growing but much smaller category.\r\n\r\nDespite government encouragement, breastfeeding rates in Malaysia remain low. The mothers of older babies thus offer a huge potential market for follow-on and growing-up baby milk. Growing-up milk is a major growth area, and now accounts for over half of market value and 62% of volume.\r\n\r\nBaby meals are the best performing sector in terms of volume with consumption rising by 36% over the forecast period. The other baby food category continues to consist mainly of rusks and baby biscuits. Rusks continue to be popular for teething infants.\r\n\r\nHere is the checklist for toddler's growing up needs:\r\n\r\n\r\nLeverage on Awards to Stand Higher than the Rest\r\n\r\n\r\nAs can be seen, the mother and baby industry is a colossal one filled with an endless stream of established and emerging brands competing against one another for a piece of the pie.\r\n\r\nAccording to research from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the ASEAN Baby and Maternity Consumer Market is an economic powerhouse. The region's combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2.76 trillion (RM11,556 trillion) in 2017 makes it the world's sixth-largest economy. With annual growth forecast to be around 5%, ASEAN is expected to become the fourth-largest by 2030. And among the 10 ASEAN nations, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are the three countries with the most potential for growth.\r\n\r\nIn the face of this mounting tidal wave of competition \u2500 not just among Malaysia's homegrown merchandises and creations but across the whole of ASEAN and the world \u2500 one way for brands to stand out against the other is to leverage on awards for a leg-up on the podium.\r\n\r\nWinning an award is a wholly satisfying experience. Not only is it exciting to compete against the rest of the industry and beat the competition, a brand's hard work gets validated, recognised, honoured and remembered. The exultation related to winning an award can extended to real business results as new clients will come knocking when they hear the buzz about the winning company\u2019s excellence.\r\nMotherhood Choice Awards 2019 \r\nThis year, Motherhood Choice Awards 2019 winners are the examples of brands that have benefitted and improved total ROI, brand awareness, and sales after participating with the Motherhood community.\r\n\r\nBubbles Steam & Dry Sterilizer by Grato Marketing Sdn Bhd,\u00a0 Poppy Seat Pop-Up High Chair Cover by Poppy Junior Sdn Bhd and Philips Avent Newborn Starter Set by Philips Avent bagged the Top Three Most Voted Award at the Motherhood Choice Awards 2019 held on June 27, 2019 alongside a slew of other brands who also won in other categories.\r\n\r\nThe Brands that Shone\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith a 2.7-million monthly unique visitor base growing by 10 million page views every month across all channels, Motherhood.com.my will continue to support this burgeoning industry by connecting brands with consumers.