Two months ago, China was at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak that the government suspended the start of school for the prevention and control of the epidemic. When parents quarantined themselves at home and kids studied at home, loads of offline K-12 educational institutions migrated their courses online to cope with the remote learning under the coronavirus crisis. During the crisis, online parenting education became a budding business burst into the public’s vision.
JMDedu once shared in the article, proposing that the online parenting education services will usher in a burgeoning period in the short term. Indeed, we observed that a number of nurseries or child care centers started to tap into the online parenting business for remaining their existing offline customers, as well as getting more incomes. However, as the outbreak recedes, will the demand for online parenting resources be short-lived or an irresistible industrial trend? JMDedu will bring some insight for our overseas readers about the newly burgeoning online parenting business in 2020 Q1.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak: crisis is an opportunity to push the business upgrade
The spread of COVID-19 has shaken all the sectors, so has the offline early childhood education institutions. According to a questionnaire result covering 1,000 childcare institutions, 40% of the samples are facing the bankrupt crisis. 27.1% of the institutions’ cash flow could maintain the operation for one month, 15.8% and 8.6% could barely keep two and three months, respectively, and only 20% of the companies clicked on the button of “more than three months”.
Industry insider once analyzed, affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the whole childcare industry in China could just get incomes at earliest in this September even November, but the operation cost for each institution during the epidemic will be over 1 million yuan. For those institutions just opened in recent two years, they need to spend double funding to overcome obstacles amid the crisis, even haven’t covered the cost they raised from investors.
However, crisis and opportunity are coexisting. Industry insider also put forward that institutions with a certain scale and sufficient cash will have more competitive edges, and leading regional companies will emerge in a fast way.
Diversified Online Parenting Education Products: live-streamed and video courses
Online parenting education arouses unprecedented attention due to the current stagnant offline market. Drawing from several products, the combination of video courses and auxiliary teaching tools is the most common teaching model at the current stage. 1-on-1 and 1-on-6 live-streamed courses are two innovative forms sprouted this year, of which the effectiveness remains to be further examined.
This February, Gym Angel has launched 1-on-6 live-streamed courses, regarded as the first offline early childhood education company who released online product amid the epidemic. Later on, Mygym and many other institutions followed to attempt online business. Except for the intensive online transformation of existing institutions, online institutions focused on live-broadcast courses for children from 0 to 6-year-old also spring up. JMDedu speculates that the combination of mature online technology, suspension of offline activities, and increasing needs from children-parents interaction amid the quarantine might be the reason to accelerate the development of online parenting education in China.
However, little kids are not suitable for online learning since their eye health is easily affected by digital products and hard to concentrate on the content playing on the screen. Therefore, the model of “video course + auxiliary teaching tool” becomes the most popular online product form at present. This kind of product aims to educate parents instead, telling them how to interact with their children through video advising, but this reflects that the effectiveness of home-based early childhood education is highly related to parents’ learning results from the courses.
Gym Angel told JMDedu: “The offline courses are comparatively professional. Early childhood education aims to inspire parents rather than exerting pressure on them.” Therefore, the product of Gym Angel does not require parents to punch-in every day. Instead, the company has designed various games in different scenarios, which could help parents to match in their real situations.
OMO in parenting education industry: short-lived demand or future trend?
Many industry participants are wondering about the prospect of online parenting education when the epidemic broke out in China. And it is the proper time to answer the question.
He Liang, the founder of Kabi Education, which has just closed its angel round of financing, said: “online parenting education has competitive edges because it is more likely to be normalized. Plus, the online class has a lower price than offline and can also provide more learning content at different levels." Industry insider also believes that offline business is easy to hit a ceiling, and online early childhood education has more space to grow. For those institutions which have established offline centers, the online business enables more learning scenarios and complement customers’ needs at home.
In fact, without the impact of the epidemic, a large number of childcare center operators still plan to take online parenting education as the selling point in 2020. Due to the geographical limitation, it is difficult for companies in the early childhood education sector to get more offline users transformed from the online traffic pool. In contrast, the diversified forms of online parenting education products make the traffic monetization available.
However, there is still a long run to usher the flourish of online parenting education. On the one hand, the attribute of existing products still brings burdens to parents to some extent, as we mentioned in the second part of this article. On the other hand, the interaction between teachers and children, immersive learning environment, and professional teaching aids provided by offline centers are impossible to be fully migrated to the virtual environment.
Moreover, when we review the online product existing in the market, the homogeneous content can not meet parents’ individualized requirements that most of the courses are superficial lectures. As for the content in terms of children and interaction between two generations, they are more difficult to be practiced that pushes the product designers to do more optimization in the future.
Currently, the National Health Commission also encourages early childhood education institutions to merge online services. But how large is the market scale, and how to conduct business layout? Players still need to figure out, although with the support of the national policy.