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According to Euromonitor International, baby care was one of the best performers in beauty and personal care in 2009, posting 7% value growth, making it one of the most recession-proof categories. It has continued to achieve both strong volume and value growth in 2010. Growth is being driven not only by parents’ refusal to trade down when spending on their children but also adults using baby-specific products. Furthermore, there continues to be a move toward baby care being “green”, both environmentally and in terms of ingredients used that are more natural and perceived as less harmful to the skin. Growth in baby care in 2009 was highest in emerging regions such as Latin America (20%) and Eastern Europe (9%), albeit from a far lower base than in mature regions like North America and Western Europe.
Baby Toiletries Thriving, Partially Thanks to Use by Women
The star performers globally were baby hair care and baby toiletries, both of which performed better in 2009 than 2008 with growth of 9% each. Sales of baby toiletries, in particular, are also being boosted by female consumers increasingly opting to buy baby care products instead of adult products because they are seen as being milder and are often less expensive.
Major Retailer Recognizes Importance of Baby Care
Online retailer Amazon acquired the Quidsi Inc in November 2010. The purchase included the acquisition of Diapers.com, an online baby care retailer in the U.S. Despite sales through the Internet accounting for just a 2% share of total baby care sales in North America in 2009, sales through online retailers have doubled since 1999 in the region, and the channel is set to see significant growth going forward.
Baby Skin Care in China to Generate Strongest Future Absolute Growth
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Baby skin care is expected to become a strong performer within baby care by 2014, with the category set to add $365 million to its value size over 2009-2014. The boom in baby skin care is part of an overarching trend among consumers to prioritize 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. Indeed, the wider skin care market is set to add $12 billion to its size by 2014.
Naturally Positioned Remains Major Growth Driver in Many Markets
Natural and organic baby care products have continued to be a major trend in 2010. Emerging consumer demand for organic and natural products in packaged foods, as well as adult personal care, has also translated into increased demand for natural and organic baby care products. Many consumers start buying organic foods when they become parents, as they want what they perceive to be the best for their children. As they start reading labels on foods for their children, they are more inclined to also read labels on baby care products, being on the lookout for preservatives such as parabens and other additives. Fear of common beauty ingredients such as PEG (propylene glycol) or sodium lauryl sulphate means many parents are flocking to the emerging natural and organic baby care market. Burt’s Bees is one of the most popular naturally-positioned baby care brands globally, and continues to expand both in terms of its product range and distribution network. While the natural trend has drawn consumers to these premium-priced products, many have turned to less expensive but still naturally-positioned brands like Aveeno Baby Care.
Private Label Making Inroads in Some Markets
In 2009, private label made gains in baby care in markets where these products command a high degree of consumer trust. In the U.S., for example, private label’s share rose from 6.5% in 2008 to 7% in 2009. As private label products continue to grow and gain further space on retail shelves, leading brands may see a corresponding dip in market share.
Future Considerations: Building Consumer Trust Essential for Brand Success
The global baby care industry is set to grow by $1.2 billion by 2014 as more low-income consumers around the world are able to afford basic products for their children. Baby care does not rely on innovation but rather depends on trust and the strength of a brand. Therefore, baby care is likely to be the beauty and personal care category to see the least innovation, other than the extension and introduction of new, natural/organic ranges. Naturally-positioned and organic baby care is likely to remain a key growth driver in mature regions. There is a strong possibility that small, niche natural and organic companies may be acquired by larger players as their rapid growth makes them attractive targets.
Carrie Lennard is a research analyst at Euromonitor International.