Retailers are looking at other baby care segments to offset dismal diaper and wipe sales. Not only has the diaper segment been challenged by a dive in the percentage of households purchasing diapers, supermarket retailers are being squeezed by low-priced competition from online retailers and subscription services, as well as from club stores.
- Poor diaper and wipe sales have spurred grocers to look to such other baby care segments as novelties, oral care and bath products and toiletries.
- Some supermarkets are finding ways to layer higher-margin products into the baby care aisle, adding natural, free-from and clean-ingredient offerings.
- In keeping with these trends, major brands like Johnson & Johnson and Baby Magic are reformulating and repositioning their products, while the diaper segment is showing some innovation with high-performance but value-priced private label products and a new item featuring an electronic activity sensor.
“Diaper sales are down in all of my 30 stores,” admits John Trapp, buyer at Gerland’s Food Fair, a chain based in Houston. “The category is a nonissue.” Data from Chicago-based IRI shows that dollar sales of diapers fell 3.8% in the supermarket channel for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 29, while dollar sales of wipes were up 2% in the channel for the same time period.
To offset the dive in diaper sales, Trapp expanded the chain’s baby novelty section and has seen continued success with infant oral care. “We redid our novelty set a year ago, and it’s all doing great,” he says. Imported rattles that sell for $1 have had strong sales, and branded rattles selling for $3.99 remain healthy. The array of price points has served to lift the entire category.
Seeking Higher Margins
Other chains are finding ways to layer higher-margin products into the baby care aisle. Vons uses clip strips in its baby care section to display baby bath products with prices points at $3.99 and $6.99. The chain recently ran a promotion that offered $5 off when shoppers spent $40 on baby care products. Wegmans Food Markets merchandises products such as baby booties and pacifier clips from Mud Pie that retail for $5.95 and $6.95, respectively, on clip strips near diapers.
In the baby toiletry section, natural products are showing an increase, while the rest of the category remains flat. Rising instances of allergies and skin sensitivity concerns among children are driving the demand of organic and natural baby care products and leading to increased usage of baby care toiletries, according to information from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel.
Less Is More
“Baby personal care products made with fewer and simpler ingredients are particularly appealing to parents, as they perceive these products as a gentler and safer option for their baby’s skin.”
According to Guinaugh, brands are tapping into the baby personal care market by promoting their “clean” ethos. Last year, Emeryville, Calif.-based Amyris unveiled a new baby personal care brand, Pipette, which claims to use the fewest possible ingredients from the purest sources. “Sugarcane-derived squalane is the hero ingredient used in Pipette’s baby personal care products, which is described as a safe and sustainable version of squalene,” observes Guinaugh. The brand is carried by Target and Buy Buy Baby.