Fathers shopping more for babies

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Fathers shopping more for babies


Oh Jin-woo, a 30-year-old office worker, carries two bags when he heads off to work in the morning from his home in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul. One of the bags is a briefcase full of office documents and the other is a bag of items for his 28-month-old son.

On his way to work, Oh drops his son off at day care and before leaving the house, he has to make sure the nursery bag contains spare clothes, some snacks and a book.

With a husband like Oh, who is actively involved in raising his child, Lee Jung-ha, his 30-year-old wife, is less burdened. When her son is at the nursery throughout the day, she takes care of all the household chores, and she recently started giving piano lessons again, which she had to give up after her child was born.

Oh, who also picks his son up after work, is well aware of what his son needs and likes - more so than his wife. Oh takes his son to the supermarket at least twice a week and buys snacks and baby food.

Unlike in the past, parents today are dividing the role of child-rearing, which has drawn retailers’ attention to the growing number of fathers, especially in their 30s, who visit large discount stores to buy goods for their babies.

According to an analysis by E-Mart, a discount store owned by Shinsegae Group, in the first five months of this year, of all consumers who bought baby supplies, 21.4 percent were men in their 30s. This is an increase from 19.5 percent last year and 15.1 percent in 2012. During the same period, 43 percent of consumers buying baby products were women in their 30s, which is a slight drop from 45 percent in the previous year.

E-Mart isn’t the only store to notice the trend. An analysis by Lotte Mart showed that from January to May, 22.5 percent of consumers who bought products for babies were men in their 30s, which is an increase from 18.4 percent in 2012.


Because more men are now shopping for their children, large discount stores are creating special father-oriented items, such as liquid baby formula. The product is for young fathers who are not familiar with how much powdered formula they should mix with water for their babies to drink. At E-Mart, sales of bottled baby formula jumped 104.8 percent in the first six months of this year compared to last year, and at Lotte Mart sales increased 95.4 percent over the same period.

E-Mart also is selling a private brand backpack for fathers to carry diapers and baby food. According to the retailer, the backpack has separate cool and hot pockets that help maintain the temperature of baby food.

E-Mart’s sales of disposable baby bottles and pacifiers have increased 20 percent this year compared to last year. The retailer said that disposable products are popular among men, who may not have the time to sterilize bottles.

BY MOON BYUNG-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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