We know about China’s self-declared ‘spicy mamas’. But what about modern dads in China, who take a distinctly different approach to raising their children than the fathers of past generations? Luxury brands and new media platforms in China are finding that China’s affluent, modern dad is keen to be seen as part of a successful family unit.

“Success” in this sense is measured in terms of success as a family, with the culture of modern Chinese parents centred on raising their progeny in the most elite way possible. This social evolution is coupled with the fresh expectations that Chinese women have of their partners.

While the precise cultural dynamics differ from region to region, Chinese mothers are marrying with the idea that their partner will engage in parenting too. Whether you visit children’s play centres, observe hotel weekend brunches or skim through your WeChat Moments feed, you will see modern Chinese fathers burping their babies and playing with their kids.

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How brands can engage with affluent Chinese dads

We spoke to Kiya, chief editor of Fathers magazine, which launched its WeChat account this year. While the media in China has reached saturation point in terms of the information and services it provides to many social segments, the publishers of Fathers had the confidence to start a fresh new brand because of the gap between what dads need to know and discuss, and the supply of relevant information and content.

“Chinese fathers today are happy to take on roles that previously were mainly [those] of the mother. They have realised the fun and joy in doing things with their kids. We see lots of examples of this with our readers. [As] an example, one boy decided that mushrooms were his favourite food. So his dad planned a weekend trip to the forest to actually forage for mushrooms, to learn about them in detail as an educational experience.”

Chinese fathers today are happy to take on roles that previously were mainly those of the mother
Kiya, chief editor of ‘Fathers’

“On our media, we have a club for dads to join. Firstly, they really love to be part of a club, to find like-minded people in an otherwise busy, work-focused city. They love to identify who they are and tell this to their network. And for club members, when they join we send a professional artist to their home to create a picture of the family together. This idea of marking the family unit also appeals to them – like it’s their own legacy.”

Popularity of dad-child themes

Starting as one of China’s many semi-reality TV shows (with celebrities pretending to be “real” on camera), the immense popularity of TV show Where Are We Going, Dad? led to it being made into a movie.

The theme of the show revolved around the message that fathers should focus less on work and more on their kids. Viewers loved the show, and Johnson’s – having already pivoted to digital marketing and new, premium organic products – capitalised on this by sponsoring the movie.

The campaign was aimed at dads and gave out Johnson’s Baby products to followers who uploaded dad-child photos to Johnson Baby’s Weibo account. The result was a 30 per cent growth in sales of Johnson’s Baby products compared to the same period the previous year.

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Dads want to be young, too

Many luxury brands have had successful campaigns which highlight dad looking good – as the trend in male beauty in China continues to grow.

… when they join we send a professional artist to their home to create a picture of the family together. This idea of marking the family unit also appeals to them – like it’s their own legacy.
Kiya, Chief Editor of Fathers magazine

China’s affluent modern dads are not only concerned with parenting – they also like to take care of themselves as well as their family. For last month’s Father’s Day, high-end beauty brands targeted Chinese dads with special offers for skincare and face creams.

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Being associated with ‘Wonder Dad’

A new campaign by BMW in July focuses on the need for dad to spend time with his child. The “Wonder Dad” ad – with a 14-minute full-length version of the video available – shows a boy imagining his father battling through various challenges to make it on time to see the school play.

The new BMW X3 is therefore associated with the attributes of being active, young and cool: all desirable traits in China’s modern urban dad.

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This article originally appeared on The Luxury Conversation.