Numbers can be deceiving in the baby category. While overall category sales are down, the drug channel is seeing nice increases in specific segments within the category. The numbers suggest that drug retailers could be missing an opportunity.
"Diapers are being consumed as an online category, but there are other growth areas in the category," said Mark Deuschle, VP business development and chief marketing officer at GMDC. Baby feeding products dollar sales, while down at supermarkets, were ahead 3% in drug stores last year. Dollar sales of baby accessories were up 8% last year in drug stores, while supermarkets saw a double-digit decrease in the segment. Sales of baby toiletries also were ahead of the industry average at drug stores.
Some of the categories with the most significant sales dollar increases in the drug channel were formula and bath products (both ahead 5%), thermometers (up 45%) and teething remedies (up 10%).
There's a good reason for drug retailers to pay more attention to the category. "Mothers with young children tend to shop fewer outlets, thus the opportunity to build basket size and trip loyalty through this category is high," said David Luth, principal at Radian Group. "Retailers should have broad coverage across most baby categories, even with a limited assortment in some of the ancillary categories like toys, accessories or clothes."
Luth said all baby products — including formula, food, feeding products and toys, as well as OTC and toiletries — should be merchandised in one destination department. Signage and a frequent shopper "baby club" aspect can contribute to making the section a destination department and encourage customer loyalty.
One new product in the category is Li'l Helper Baby Bottle Holder, showcased at the GMDC/FMI Health and Wellness @ Retail 2013 conference in June. It's a bottle holder designed to free up mom's hands while building baby's natural grip reflex. The ergonomic design matches baby's natural nursing posture, the company noted. In addition to supporting a feeding bottle, the product can serve additional purposes, such as a toy, rattle or teething device.