BEIJING: Infant nutrition is a hot topic among Chinese mothers with much discussion taking place on WeChat, where a study has identified several areas currently lacking in suitable content and which brands could usefully address.

Intelligence provider Kantar Media CIC teamed up with agency Ogilvy China to analyse WeChat content around mothers and infant nutrition, collecting six months of data from 92 leading, influential mother and infant WeChat public media accounts, plus 12 mother and infant care key opinion leader (KOL) public accounts as well as 24 brand accounts.

With KOL accounts often being those of well-known nutritionists and paediatricians, these tended to express leadership in mother and infant expertise and knowledge. Media accounts were more likely to offer social and messaging functions, while brand accounts were more focused on customer service and marketing-related activities.

And from a marketing point of view, the content in each of these three categories displayed different characteristics: brand accounts had the greatest amount of original content, media had the highest forwarding rate while KOLs tended to have the greatest audience reach.

The study advised that while original content had the advantage of leveraging media reach, brands should also focus on developing their own KOLs, establishing the brand in the field of mother and infant nutrition to establish public leadership.

Among the accounts studied, infant nutrition topics – including daily diet, illness, growth and health, food taboos – made up almost half (48.7%) of all content, but most of it was centred around a child's first year; nutrition information for 1-2 year olds accounted for only 1.5% of all content, while that of 3-6 year olds was a mere 0.3%.

Brands should focus on strengthening their online nutrition content for older age groups, the study suggested, while at the same time addressing food taboos.

The study also highlighted the paucity of content – only 1.7% – relevant to pregnant mothers. "This is a clear opportunity for brands to beef up content," the report advised.

"By focusing on content across different trimesters and different facets of pregnancy including diet, developmental knowledge and peer interaction, they can ultimately increase brand viscosity."

Data sourced from Kantar Media CIC; additional content by Warc staff