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Parents Look to Nature for Baby Care

By: Sara Mason
Posted: April 7, 2009, from the April 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Sweet Grass Farm launched its FarmBaby line last spring, with the goal to provide affordable, natural baby care to eco-conscious moms.

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“Consumers choose the best product for the money, and they always should,” continued Millsap. “So we try to deliver great product at a reasonable price without sacrificing the quality.” Similarly, Sweet Grass Farm launched its FarmBaby line last spring, with the goal to provide affordable, natural baby care to eco-conscious moms. The company is a wholesale supplier that caters to gift shop channels. “Our company strategy has not changed since our founding in 1996,” said Debbie Ludington, creator. “We strive to create simple and effective products that are reasonably priced and suitable for everyday use. Ludington notices that buyers in today’s economy are switching to the brand because of its order fulfillment policies and the ability to avoid tying up all their inventory dollars. The simple luxuries afforded by baby body care is showing promise, which affects smaller brands such as FarmBaby in a positive way. “Consumers are looking for formulas that are very straightforward and streamlined, allowing them to read the ingredients and immediately get a good understanding of the performance and safety,” said Ludington. As a small market player, FarmBaby will continue to focus on pushing wholesale customers to bring in the line. Future products on tap for the brand include a natural sanitizer and a natural/portable wipe system.

Beyond Baby Powder

Growth opportunities for baby care, particularly within the natural category, are not waning. Johnson & Johnson witnessed particularly strong international sales in 2008 in baby care, despite the economy, and is focusing its latest efforts in building up the distribution in order to provide access to the relatively new Aveeno Baby brand to a broader number of consumers. Aveeno did not even enter the baby shampoo segment until 2008, when it launched Aveeno Baby Essential Moisture Shampoo.

Aveeno, too, has stated a commitment to the research and development of new natural-based formulas that will address baby’s skin needs more expansively. “There are still many baby skin conditions not currently addressed—such as hypersensitivity and eczema. Moving forward, these are definite areas of opportunity for us,” said Maupu.

Pediatrician Natalie Geary, MD, creator of VedaPure, also recognizes the need for products that address overall wellness in children and their parents. The company’s first launch was a natural skin care line for babies and children, but it has since expanded to include lines for mothers and fathers—the whole family. “As a pediatrician, my primary focus is children, but it is important to understand that for our children to be healthy, the whole family needs to embrace the ideals of natural health,” Geary explained. The concept of overall wellness has led the company to offer nutritional supplements, a remedy for cradle cap made with black walnut hulls and certified organic calendula flowers, an oil for skin infections, and a topical for swelling and bruising.

The Internet and Consumer Loyalty

With greater access to information and a discerning consumer base, complete transparency in labeling and marketing—along with consumer education—is key to commanding consumer loyalty in today’s marketplace. But the fact that moms tend to be loyal to the first baby care brands they use is also important. “One of the [marketing] strategies is to propose attractive product offerings to expectant moms in order to introduce them to the breadth of product offerings early in their motherhood,” said Aveeno’s Maupu.

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