The children’s market ranges from products for infants to those for tweens. Julia Wray discovers how brands are appealing to both parents and children
The term baby care may conjure up images of bibs and blankets, but the baby care market, as defined by research company Euromonitor International, ranges all the way from products for newborns to those aimed at children under 11 years old. As such, the baby care market presents a wealth of challenges for brand owners. While engendering trust in mothers may be the driving ambition of one brand, another will be striving to attract the attention of seven-year-old boys, or be ‘cool’ in the eyes of increasingly savvy, stylish tween girls.
However, the category continues to be a rewarding one. Euromonitor figures show that baby care grew 7.7% to reach just under $7.6bn in 2010, making it one of the more recession-proof categories and, if recent activity is anything to go by, one in which brand owners and retailers remain keen to invest. Avon, for example, recently acquired the Tiny Tillia brand, which makes bath products, toys and clothing for babies. In November 2010, meanwhile, Amazon took ownership of US web-based retailer Diapers.com as part of its acquisition of Quidsi Inc.
Globally, growth in 2010 was boosted by Latin America. Baby care in Latin America increased 17% and it was once again the largest market region, accounting for over $2bn of total baby care sales. In addition, two of the world’s most successful brands in the baby care sector – Natura and Hipoglós – hail from Brazil.
In mature markets, the emergence of a generation of older, wealthier mothers has helped drive market expansion, as Ricky Lakhani, consumer analyst at Mintel explains. “Consumers are becoming more career-driven, working longer hours and pursuing further educational training courses outside of work, in order to boost their career prospects,” he tells SPC. “Due to added work pressures and lifestyles becoming more and more hectic, women are delaying starting their families until later in life, which is having a bearing on their ability to spend more on products for their babies and children.”
Meanwhile, according to Euromonitor, China will present the sector’s best opportunity for future growth, spurred on by the consumer tendency to prioritise skin care over other products.
Euromonitor beauty & personal care analyst Carrie Lennard comments: “The boom in baby skin care is part of an overarching trend among consumers to prioritise the purchase of skin care over many other areas of beauty and personal care. China is set to be a main driver of this growth, anticipated to account for 51% of total global growth in baby skin care.”
|Table 1: Global baby & children’s market, by sector, US$m (fixed 2010 exchange rates)
|Baby hair care
|Baby skin care
|Baby sun care
|Medicated baby care
|Nappy (diaper) rash treatments
|Source: Euromonitor International
|Table 2: Global baby & children’s market, by region, US$m (fixed 2010 exchange rates)
|Middle East & Africa
|Source: Euromonitor International
Selling to parents
Johnson’s Baby (J&J) has long dominated the market and its monopoly doesn’t look set to end any time soon, according to Lakhani.
“The most important purchase influence among parents when it comes to buying babies and children’s toiletries includes buying a trusted brand,” he explains. “Buying a well known brand is a more important purchase motivator than price, highlighting that consumers are willing to pay more for a brand they are familiar with and that has a strong reputation in baby care.
“Parents usually trust the brands that were used on them when they were children. This is why Johnson’s Baby is market leader, due to having a strong brand heritage, coupled with a continuous stream of innovation and strong commitment to above-the-line advertising over recent years.”
The chief selling point of new launch Johnson’s Baby 2in1 Bubble Bath and Wash is its mildness, a strategy that relies equally on parents’ knowledge of, as well as their trust in the brand’s No More Tears formula.
Similarly, Simple’s (Alberto Culver) re-launched Simple Baby range is promoted on the strength of the brand’s 50 years’ experience in facial skin care.
While trust may be the primary motivator behind purchase, other factors should also be taken into account. For example, how does a product fit into the busy lifestyle of today’s working parent? The growing popularity of convenience products such as baby wipes indicates that it would be unwise to gloss over such considerations.
“Baby wipes are performing well because of their multipurpose use. For example, they are useful for cleaning up general mess and spills, facial cleansing and bathing the baby,” says Lakhani, who also notes that sales are being boosted by mothers using baby wipes to remove their own make-up.
And as Euromonitor’s Lennard points out: “Female consumers are increasingly opting to buy baby care products instead of adult products because they are seen as being milder and are often cheaper.”
Discounting by retailers, coupled with increased education among parents about the dangers of the sun, resulted in baby sun care increasing by 8.6% in 2010 to reach $605m. Mintel’s Lakhani states: “Growth is being driven by parents becoming more aware of the dangers of the sun, with retailers such as Boots and Superdrug offering half price and three-for-two deals.”
Not only do most baby care names now feature sun care as part of their product portfolio, but sun care brands, such as Coppertone (Merck & Co Inc), are offering increasingly varied and innovative products for children. In 2011, Coppertone extended its Water Babies line-up with a high SPF foaming sun care product – Water Babies Foaming Lotion SPF 75+ Sunscreen – and Water Babies Pure & Simple Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen, which is fragrance-free, dye-free and hypoallergenic.
A USP of new UK brand Naturally Cool Kids is that its products have been specifically designed for seasonal use, with three ‘summer’ products (SPF 25 Sun Cream, After Sun Lotion and Bug Band) and two ‘winter’ ones (Vapour Stick and Lip & Cheek Protector) as well as a Hair & Body Wash. “Years ago families went on one holiday and that was it, but it’s a year-round thing now,” notes founder Fiona Wood, adding: “We’ve received a lot of interest from ski and surf shops.”
In today’s uncertain economic environment, price is always a factor and private label has made gains in mature markets where cheaper own-brand products command a high degree of consumer trust.
Moreover, many retailers are broadening their own-brand offering. Tesco, for example, added five new products to its Tesco Baby range: Bedtime Bath, Bedtime Wash, Bedtime Powder, Sensitive Lotion and Sensitive Bath, with the two non-greasy, moisturising ‘sensitive’ products said to be suitable for newborns. It also launched a Sun Protection Kids line.
Rival chain Asda, meanwhile, targeted savers by adding a baby lotion and baby bath to its Smart Price value range.
In the US, Asda owner Walmart refreshed the look of its Parent’s Choice line. Likewise, Kmart’s Little Ones brand underwent a redesign and now comes in packaging sporting cartoon animals.
Trust, however, trumps cost and Lakhani stresses that parents will always favour branded products provided the price is competitive enough.
“Consumers are turning to private label in order to cut costs,” he confirms. “However when presented with attractive discounts from the leading brands, consumers are sticking to big name brands, looking to provide only the best for their baby or child.”
Licensed brands have also fared well in mature markets as children as young as two years old exercise their right to dictate which products end up in the shopping trolley.
“There are many statistics on how successful character licensing is,” comments Angela Hall, md of H&A, which produces children’s toiletries and bath accessories under licence for several TV-based properties including Winnie the Pooh, Ben 10 and Zingzillas. “For example NPD licence tracker recently reported that Ben 10 generated nearly 90% of sales to boys up to the age of nine with 60% from his core age group of boys of five to eight years old.”
Last year, the company acquired the license to create two new ranges: Disney Princesses and Disney Fairies.
“We have been able to develop the two Disney ranges side by side as they target different girls,” says Hall. “Disney Princesses is very much for the younger girl who is still into dressing up, story-telling and everything that is pink and sparkles. The Disney Fairies girl is older, loves spending time with her friends and the range is inspired by nature and magic which can be seen in the colours and imagery used.”
Focus on formulation
Baby care is driven by trust rather than innovation and parents are increasingly inclined to put their trust in products that are natural or organic; according to Mintel, in 2010, natural and organic products accounted for over a third of new baby care launches in the UK.
One such range was Pour Bébé from French natural brand Melvita, an Ecocert certified organic range comprising a softening Changing Cream, Shower Shampoo, Cold Cream Soap, Cleansing Water, Cleansing Milk, Nappy Change Milk, Moisturising Milk and Massage Oil.
Green People, meanwhile, grew its Organic Babies line with a non-scented baby oil containing sunflower seed oil, evening primrose oil and rosehip, while HealthQuest, the owner of Earth Friendly Baby, extended its natural, green ethos to a new children’s range: Earth Friendly Kids.
Once a niche area, natural and organic is moving increasingly into the mainstream, and natural and organic baby care is following suit. In the US, J&J launched Johnson’s Natural featuring three products – Head-to-toe Foaming Baby Wash, Baby Lotion and Baby Shampoo – said to be at least 98% natural, with the remaining 2% dedicated to the preservation of the brand’s No More Tears formula.
Traditionally, free-from claims often sit alongside natural and organic ones, but the trend – rightly or wrongly – towards eliminating certain ingredients including parabens, silicones and sodium lauryl/laureth sulphates from products has permeated the baby care sector in its entirety.
At the end of 2010, the Danish government announced that it was banning propyl and butyl paraben in toiletries for children under the age of three, while non-natural brands and ranges across many regions are formulating controversial ingredients out of their products.
“Avoiding the use of some ingredients in children’s products is important; for example using solvent-free nail polish formulations for younger age groups, or paraben preservatives for specific customers,” comments Hall.
Even natural brands are finding that consumers seem more concerned about free-from claims than what’s in the bottle.
“More and more parents are asking what’s not in a product rather than what’s actually in it. And buyers are now more likely to ask you the same question,” Fiona Wood, founder of start-up brand Naturally Cool Kids tells SPC. “Our sun cream contains no titanium dioxide because we weren’t sure of the effect it could have if absorbed by the skin.”
First steps into skin care
Joon Skin Care is a new NPA-certified natural skin and body care brand designed for pre-pubescent girls. As the range rolls out across selected Whole Foods Market stores in North America, co-founder Tameka Linnell tells ECM how Joon is filling a gap in the market
“My background is in advertising and marketing. During that time I did a lot of research into products for kids and teens and I noticed there was a gap in the market for healthy skin care products for young girls.
“We launched with nine skus. Three products are unfragranced – a body cream for sensitive skin and two facial products (a wash and an SPF 15 face cream) – and there are two fragranced lines featuring body wash, body mist and Sunshine Sparkle Body Cream in vanilla floral or apricot mint fragrances.
“We founded Joon in 2008. In November 2010, we began retailing online and last month we launched in Florida in Whole Foods – we’re now rolling out in 36 stores throughout the midwest and six stores in Canada. “The first two and a half years were spent on research, product development and focus groups with girls and their moms. For moms fragrance was important – girls liked the smell of Bath & Body Works products but mums didn’t want the fragrances to be too strong. We wanted to make sure our products smelled and felt like ‘normal’ products. Parents are aware of the benefits of natural, but girls don’t have that consciousness, so we had to get the consistency and fragrance just right.
“Being in Whole Foods means we can benefit from its customer research and what we found is that girls who’ve reached puberty will walk past these products, but girls of up to 11 or 12 will drag their mums over. When girls reach their teens, they want to start using adult products. We’re really creating a new category in Whole Foods – previously they had a category for babies and one for adults, now they’re categorising it as baby and child.
“The one thing we’re now focusing on is new fragrances, because girls will often tire of using the same fragrance. There are two new ones in the pipeline – chocolate mint and pink grapefruit – and we’re also looking to develop a natural deodorant. “There is also a lip shine in product development. With tweens there’s a big debate about when girls should start wearing make-up, but these products are very sheer.”
What children want
All baby care brands must appeal to parents on one or several levels, but those making products aimed at children must also win over their offspring, who naturally have very different criteria.
“Children from the age of two are influenced by characters and will develop their favourites,” says Hall. “The target age of the child will really dictate the split of how important it is to the parent versus the child. For example most of our ranges are pre-school; this age haven’t yet developed pester power but they do recognise characters.”
While licensed product manufacturers often have the benefit of affiliation with an already successful TV or film franchise, other brands may also profit from creating a character through which to communicate with their target audience.
A case in point is Naturally Cool Kids, whose packaging and website features an original cartoon creation called NiCK who acts as the brand’s online mouthpiece, and according to Wood helps broaden its appeal to a wider age group.
“We found that a lot of natural brands were either very ‘babyish’ or created for adults and there was nothing really in between, so there was a gap in the market,” she explains. “Naturally Cool Kids appeals to a wide age range of children – my teenage son wouldn’t be ashamed to use it.”
Fragrance also plays a vital role in engaging with youngsters. Commenting on the company’s Earth Friendly Kids brand, HealthQuest’s Tom Dickens tells SPC: “It differs from the original baby care range in that it features updated aromas like Minty Lavender and Zingy Citrus, which are stronger and more energetic and which are targeted at the kids themselves, while Earth Friendly Baby features more traditional fragrances like camomile, which appeal to parents.”
|Table 3: Global baby & children’s market, brand shares ranking (by umbrella brand name), retail value
|Johnson & Johnson Inc
|Natura Cosméticos SA
|Avon Products Inc
|Laboratorios Andrómaco SA
|Merck & Co Inc
|Johnson & Johnson Inc
|Johnson & Johnson Inc
|Source: Euromonitor International
Even tougher customers are children on the cusp of becoming teenagers. Unlike the teens they will become, tweens don’t yearn to be treated like adults, nor do they view using adult products as a badge of honour. But they won’t suffer being babied either, and now the beauty world is starting to take note of this emerging demographic.
Natural newcomer Joon Skin Care (p43) is aimed at girls aged between eight and 10 and is described by co-founder Tameka Linnell as “a fun and functional way of introducing girls to a skin care routine” in order to “keep them out of mum’s products and to give them something of their own”.
However, Pacific World Corp and Walmart courted controversy when they announced their new line GeoGirl. Designed for girls of eight to 12 the range will include make-up, which, despite being sheer on the skin, has been accused of promoting the sexualisation of young girls.
Nevertheless, it’s likely that similar offerings will hit store shelves in coming years as brand owners seek to engage with this potentially lucrative market.
Euromonitor’s Lennard predicts that future growth in baby care will stem from greater uptake in emerging market regions and the continued introduction of natural and organic lines in mature ones. “The global baby care industry is set to grow by $1.2bn by 2014 as more low income consumers around the world are able to afford basic products for their children,” she concludes. The industry, it seems, should prepare itself for a further baby boom.