|Title:||United Kingdom baby care take-home sales by product category in pounds sterling and percent change for year ending October 30, 2011|
Start of full article - but without data
Baby care: XX w/e XX October 2011
VALUE VOLUME [pounds y-o-y% [pounds y-o-y% sterling]m sterling]m
Nappies XXX.X X XX.X X Moist wipes XXX.X X XXX -X Milk XXX.X X XX.X X Food XXX.X X XXX.X X Toiletries XXX.X X XXX.X X Accessories XX.X -X XX.X -X Healthcare XX.X XX XX.X X Drinks X.X XX X.X XX Stentants X.X -XX X.X -X Total X,XXX.X X XXX.X X
The range of food and drink available to babies and toddlers has changed beyond recognition over the last eight years, but the challenge to engage mums and get them to buy from the baby aisle is stronger than ever. With birth rates at the highest level since 1972, you would think sales of babyfood would be rocketing. But while value is up by X%, volume sales are static, and sales of wet food and snacks actually declined year-on-year in the last quarter to X October 2011 [Nielsen], hit by more mothers preparing food from scratch.
So what's happening out there? The good news is there are more players in the market than ever, and innovation is prolific in the snack, wet food, chilled, frozen and toddler categories, delivering strong growth for organic manufacturers such as Ella's Kitchen and Organix, up by XX.X% and XX.X% respectively [Nielsen MAT X October 2011].
"Parents refuse to compromise on me quality of their babies' food, even in hard economic times when other areas of the family's budget are being cut," says Ella's Kitchen chief executive Paul Lindley.
The value of a mum to the retailers has also never been higher, with her shopping basket coming in at over [pounds sterling] X.XX per week higher than the average. And new mums are particularly important as, according to Marcus Hughes, senior baby buyer at Sainshury's, "baby is the last family member to be economised". With scientific evidence proving the link between junk food and IQ levels in three-year-olds, mums evidently want to feed their youngsters the best value, highest-quality foods from brands they trust, from weaning.
"What we feed our children in the first three years sets their palate for the future. This age group is crying out for nutritional quality," says Angus Oliphant, founder of kids' organic ready meals producer Miniscoff.
But with XX% of meals being cooked from scratch at home, manufacturers and retailers need to work hard to attract mums to the baby aisle--and to keep them there.
"Many mums scratch cook and don't buy into the wet babyfood category at all, although the introduction of organic ranges in convenient pouches has helped draw some of these customers into the market," says Hughes.
Babies (and their mums) move through the stages at a furious rate--hence the increasing extensions into toddler ranges, boosted by busy mums with hungry and fussy toddlers.
The growth of both finger food and new ambient toddler ranges has had a particularly positive impact in keeping shoppers in the aisle longer, with XX.X% penetration compared with just XX.X% eight years ago [Kantar Worldpanel XX w/e XX October 2011, total infant food penetration].
And it also helps to explain the growth of Ella's Kitchen and Organix, as both have launched into wet toddler meals in the past year. Ella's Kitchen extended its most popular stage two recipes into stage three, creating a range that is growing three times faster than Ella's other products combined.
And with its launch of Mighty Meals in July, Organix is not far behind, with the new wet toddler range accounting for XX% of the [pounds sterling] X.Xm growth in wet toddler food when pro-rated over the full year [Nielsen XX w/e X October 2011].
"Our research into the toddler market showed mums were only using the baby aisle for X% of occasions and were finding other solutions for the remaining XX%, including cooking from scratch," says Organix marketing director Stephanie Hildon. The launch of Mighty Meals has offered mums a real 'looks like homemade' alternative, she adds.
The growth of toddler meals is also driving growth in wet food, along with the pouch format, offset by traditional jars, which are experiencing persistent decline.
Elsewhere in the toddler market, chilled suppliers are also buoyant: Annabel Karmel has enjoyed XX% growth [Kantar, XX w/e XX October] and Little Dish reports XX% growth yoy. Even frozen is making a comeback, with sales of Kiddylicious's frozen offering increasing by XX%, claims The Kids Food Company MD Sally Preston (see ps).
At the same time, all the major supermarkets have sharpened their babyfood pencils in the last few years, including Asda's revamp and extension of its Little Angels range. And while welcoming premium players, "consumers have never been more value-conscious and increasingly look to own label for value," says Sainsbury's Hughes. The multiple is rolling out a new look and feel for its Little Ones range this month. Morrisons is also making moves in this direction.
"We have spent a lot of time understanding how mums shop the baby aisle and are beginning trials on how we might improve their experience," says Hilary Learn, category director health and beauty/household and pet at Morrisons. And that's before the retailer even considers the role food and drink might play at Kiddicare, acquired by Morrisons in February 2011 and in strong growth under its new owners.
However, despite the fact it is increasingly easy to reach information-hungry shoppers, mums might just be the hardest consumer group to attract, claims Nigel Wright, marketing consultant for Plum.
With the excessive and unique use of parenting sites, mummy blogs and social media, where mums share their experience and actively seek out the recommendations of other mothers, getting good press on Mumsnet and the like is vital to sales. "This market is probably the most digitally advanced in food, and it's vital to get close to mums," he says.
Ella's Kitchen's Lindley agrees. "Use of Facebook, Twitter and online channels will increasingly demand quick, empathetic and honest communication from baby brands. Those brands seen as honest, real and understanding will thrive best."
A number of brands are showing an impressive level of engagement with their target audience. Indeed, suppliers report spending up to three quarters of their budget on digital media. As well as the clubs and online tie-ups with bloggers and networking sites, there is a constant dialogue with consumers to ensure they are meeting the needs of mothers.
Plum has recently set up Food Diaries to track the feeding at each meal occasion of XXX mums. "It's early days," Wright says, "but the investment enables us to ensure our range is the most relevant to the age of the baby. So far the scale of homemade food has been the most interesting insight: XX% of all food fed to nought to two-year-olds is homemade, although as the day goes on there is more use of ready-made products."
Organix's Hildon believes "understanding and delivering against the unmet needs of mums and creating foods that are different will drive growth". Organ ix has certainly done this in the ambient toddler sector, where Mighty Meals has filled a gap, providing the 'close to homemade' mums want. And on the snacks side, while Organix has over XX% of the market [Nielsenj, the company is constantly launching new products. From the first finger food for XX-month-olds--Multigrain Hearts--to the introduction of a Goodies savoury snack range, including a unique vegetable bar, launching this year, Organix is constantly pushing the envelope.
Online sales are also increasing, with Benjoy citing Amazon as one of its bestsellers and Little Dish enjoying a XX% sales uplift in stores where there is a.com interface. Online, there is more opportunity to sell products to mums who no longer need to shop in the baby aisle but want the high quality products on offer to feed to their toddlers and younger children. There's also room for more products online and it's no surprise that Ocado seems to be instrumental in carrying more new lines than anyone else.
With all of the main manufacturers extending their ranges, either with new flavours of existing ranges like Plum's Bread and Butter pudding pouch, new products like Hipp's mini yoghurt pots or new formats such as Heinz's custard and yoghurt pots with sealable lids and Benjoy's snack munchpots with non-spill flaps (see pXX), this market is vibrant with innovation to keep mums interested rather than taking the homemade option.
Only the space available seems to be a limiting factor, and until space gains are made, it will be hard for the category to make huge gains going forward. Unless a more radical option is taken, that is.
Clearly a lot of babyfood belongs in the baby aisle, but suppliers have been critical of supermarket layouts for some time. For example, baby snacks could sit quite happily in the snacks aisle, where they would add a nutritious lower fat and sugar alternative.
Even the title baby aisle is a misnomer. The average baby aisle shelves are groaning under the weight of snacks, juices and to a certain extent pouches that are regularly bought by mums with older mouths to feed.
"Parents like to stick with trusted brands, especially when it comes to children's foods, but once you are out of the baby aisle, you have to search across the supermarket," says Benjoy's founder Michelle Daniells.
"To offer a larger range of products we would not only have to deal with a lot of different buyers, we would need a huge budget to satisfy promotions for each category," she adds.
Layouts also appear to be creating confusion for shoppers. Ella's Kitchen has fruit pouches in the baby aisle and the ambient fruit section (next to the tinned fruit). Other brands have fruit snacks for kids in the baby and home baking aisles; and you can find juices for kids in the baby, ambient and fresh juices sections, while toddler and kids meals are in baby, chilled and frozen aisles.
As a mum, I am knackered. Could supermarkets develop one lane for mums? It's got to be worth thinking about, isn't it? It would make my experience easier, anyway. And it could also improve the diets of older children that quickly and notoriously deteriorate.
Daniells agrees. "I do think the supermarkets are missing a trick by not having a children's food aisle. It could be an extension of the baby aisle. Parents with kids of different ages would just have one place to go."
* The baby care market has grown X% in value over the past year due largely to price inflation--volume sales rose by just X%.
* The fastest-growing sector is baby drinks, up by XX.X%, albeit from a small base, closely followed by healthcare, up XX.X%.
* Nappies account for more than XX% of the baby care market. Their X.X% value growth is entirely down to inflation and own label sales, which grew X.X%-twice as fast as the brands. The past year has seen an increase in the number of packs sold off promotion, with more shoppers opting for own-label nappies, which are less likely to be on deal.
* Babyfood is also growing through an increase in average price.
* Tesco remains the retailer of choice, with over XX% of the market and growing at X.X% year-on-year, driven by strong sales in nappies, baby milk and babyfood. Rachel Cooper