Big Steps for Baby

August 11, 2006

Baby care grows up as marketers explore increasing segmentation in products for babies, toddlers and children.

Big Steps for Baby

Baby care grows up as marketers explore increasing segmentation in products for babies, toddlers and children.

Ava Caridad
Associate Editor

There was a time when baby care products were simple and few. Parents could use baby shampoo, baby oil and baby powder on the new arrival, but once they grew to pre-school age, the choices narrowed and kids simply started using adult products. These days, parents can now choose from a range of body washes, hand washes, shampoos, conditioners, wipes, wash-mitts, moisturizers and styling products formulated, not only “for kids,” but for specific age groups falling under the baby, toddler, small child and big child categories.

Manufacturers are introducing more age-segmented products in an effort to keep their customers for a longer period, according to research analyst Virginia Lee, Euromonitor International, Chicago, IL. Just as baby food manufacturers have introduced the concept of different baby foods for different age stages to keep selling baby food beyond the first year, baby care manufacturers have introduced new products for toddlers in an effort to have parents purchase products after baby’s first birthday. Manufacturers also want parents with children of varying ages to buy a different product for each child.

U.S. sales of baby care products grew by 9% in 2005, according to Euromonitor. Growth was driven by extensive new product development and advertising. Kimberly-Clark helped jumpstart sales when it entered baby care in January 2004 and, with a 20% gain, baby bath products showed the strongest increase in 2005. Growth was aided by new product launches from multiple manufacturers including Kimberly-Clark, Johnson & Johnson and Hain-Celestial. In contrast, baby hair care only grew by 3% in 2005. One reason for the slow growth is the popularity of body wash/shampoo combination products.

The Baby Magic brand continued to lose value share in 2005 and the decline in sales prompted parent Playtex Products to sell the brand to Cenuco Inc. in 2005. Baby Magic suffered from its image as a basic, traditional baby care brand. The 2000 entrance of baby food manufacturer Gerber Products into baby care also hurt Baby Magic sales.

Another market segment established during the earlier growth years was “for your children.” This area has matured, but the segment is established and not retreating. Children aged four to 11 years are driving demand for personal care products designed specifically for them, rather than products designed for an entire family or for babies.

Trendy Kids Want Upscale Products

Irma Zandl from consumer trends research firm The Zandl Group notes that times have changed and so have parents. They don’t want to miss out on their fun adult lives, but they also want to spend as much time with their kids as possible. As a result, There are more babies in previously baby-free zones such as fancy restaurants and bars, art openings, the work place, movie premieres, concerts, parties and flying business class.  There is now TV for infants (BabyFirstTV), organic baby food, ergonomic baby accessories, European baby toys and posh, adult-style kid’s clothing. Nothing is too good for today’s newborn, and the market reflects the parents’ desire for the very best.

Klunie’s Chocolate Shampoo from Circle of Friends keeps kids clean while teaching them about other cultures.
“Decades ago, getting a child to take a bath was a challenge, but now children are embracing grooming from a very young age,” explained Cozy Friedman, founder and president, Cozy’s Cuts For Kids and So Cozy Hair Care For Children. “The current trend is what I call the ‘Mini-Metro Phenomenon.’ Just as men have recently become aware of the need for styling products for themselves, children and parents are now realizing the need for styling products for kids. Although we knew that there was a need for styling cream and gel for children, we were shocked by the fact that these products are our best sellers. We can’t keep our Kooky Kiwi Styling Cream in stock.”  

Phillip Singh, product manager for Huggies, said that parents start the push for multiple products early on.

“In baby products, moms are looking for fragrance and benefit trends found in adult products. Therefore, benefits such as nourishing, moisturizing and soothing—as well as fragrances such as shea butter, mango, coconut, green tea, vanilla, cucumber,—are migrating to baby products,” he emphasized.

“When Mom likes a particular fragrance, she buys multiple products—wash, lotion, shampoo, wash cloths—with that same scent.” Mega-category communication, promotion and positioning in baby toiletries establish trust and help the consumer feel assured that her product choices are correct.

Mr. Singh also explained that parents have an emotional investment or attachment to bath-time activities with a little one, so making the bath-time-fresh baby feeling last all day (through scent and benefit) is an overarching trend that will drive incremental use of toiletries products.

Botanicals for Baby

According to Ms. Lee, natural and organic products are the biggest trend in baby care. Increasingly, parents want products that are made with natural ingredients, assuming that such products are safer and healthier to use on babies and small children. The new product characteristics can be found in both mass and premium market segments and extend from natural and aromatherapy products trends found in other cosmetics and toiletries.

Highlighting natural ingredients has helped many new product introductions define their qualitative superiority and justify their higher prices. Many new product introductions included ingredients such as oatmeal, vegetable and other plant-based oils, aloe, goat’s milk or shea butter.

Eleanor Keare, president of Circle of Friends, explained, “Parents more and more are looking for natural, gentle ingredients in their children’s care products. Incorporating botanicals, these ‘granola’ type brands offer the design and efficacy that more parents are looking for. Mass market players   may start to incorporate more botanicals and natural elements into their formulations.”

Ms. Friedman said consumers are interested in products that are formulated with natural ingredients that include vitamins and minerals, that are pH balanced and do not have a high concentration of detergent.

“For instance, aloe extract, vitamin A and vitamin E are all known for their soothing, moisturizing and healing properties,” she noted. “Sweet almond oil is used for antioxidant protection, wheat protein and panthenol (vitamin B5) for conditioning, strengthening and protecting hair and soothing skin. I have found that parents are more interested in using high quality products and less interested in the cost. Parents are willing to pay for better ingredients.”

Johnson’s Soothing Naturals is a new collection of baby care products from J&J that is formulated with beneficial plant-derived ingredients and contain a patent-pending complex of mixed tocopherols, olive leaf extract, minerals and essential amino acids, which play key roles in skin metabolism and barrier function.  

The five new Soothing Naturals products include nourishing lotion, intense moisture cream, moisture rich wash, soothe and protect balm and hair and body wash. Prices range from $3.99 to $4.99.

Johnson’s Soothing Naturals line is the latest major brand to turn to more natural ingredients.
“People are looking for more from their natural products and expecting to find their favorite natural brands in more categories,” explained Burt’s Bees’ Allison Lane, senior manager, marketing services. “Burt’s Bees has now expanded to cleansing, which includes hair care and body wash.” Next month, Burt’s Bees will launch Baby Bee shampoo and wash to gently cleanse baby from head to toe. Created with coconut and sunflower oils, soy protein and sugar ester, the shampoo and wash cleanses baby’s skin and hair without irritation or tears, leaving a naturally clean, soft scent. The formulas are free of parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate and are never tested on animals. Eight ounces retail for $8.

Soothing Relief Creamy Wash from Aveeno is a fragrance-free, tear-free, hypoallergenic baby wash specially formulated with natural colloidal oatmeal, natural shea butter and rich emollients. The blended creamy wash gently cleanses to soothe and relieve dry skin, even from eczema. It leaves baby skin feeling moisturized for 24 hours, so it looks and feels healthier.

“Parents want to make sure the products they use on their little ones contain the best ingredients, and often, the best ingredients are simpler and more natural, without heavy lotion and emulsifying agents,” said Mr. Singh. “Moms also trend to the familiar and can be wary of too far afield ingredients. Huggies has found that combining an emerging trend with familiar ingredients is the best path to success.”

Making Friends in the Bathroom

Despite all the products designed just for them, kids don’t  necessarily always love to clean themselves up. One marketing strategy is to turn products into friendly characters to encourage use.

Circle of Friends has been using this strategy since 1995, packaging its line of salon-exclusive products using characters that explore international cultures. The latest is Klunie’s Chocolate 2-in-1 Tearless Moisturizing shampoo, recommended for thick, long or curly hair.  Free of sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates and other chemicals and detergents, it gently cleans, conditions and detangles while helping to maintain hair’s moisture balance. The 10oz bottle retails for $8 and is infused with a blend of botanical and fruit extracts, including cocoa, lavender, chamomile, chickweed and aloe leaf that add shine, bounce and body to hair.

According to the company, kids will love making friends with Klunie, a child from the cocoa-producing nation of Papua New Guinea. Through the distinctive packaging, kids can learn about Klunie’s native country, the tribe he belongs to and their traditions.

With the introduction of the Cleanteam toiletries, the Huggies brand offers a full line of bath and body products across a child’s different life stages—from newborn to infant to toddler.

“Huggies Cleanteam is more than just a line of toddler toiletries—it provides a bonding experience for mother and child,” said Steve Kalmanson, group president, Kimberly-Clark North Atlantic consumer products.

“Through pairing a toddler’s love of animals, learning and imagination with parents’ need to make bath time, meal time, potty time and on-the-go cleanup easier, Huggies Cleanteam toiletries keep toddlers engaged through the use of characters, bottle shapes and fragrances and helps teach lifetime cleaning habits to children.”

The Huggies Cleanteam line uses a Blue Melon Splash fragrance, formulated specifically for toddlers. The Huggies Cleanteam “Alphamals” characters include Sammy the Snake 2-in-1 tear-free shampoo and conditioner; Billy the Bison body wash, Daphne the Dolphin detangler; Molly the Mule wash mitts; Henry the Hippo hand soap; Carley the Crab Cleansing Cloth and Freddy the Flamingo flushable moist wipes, offered in an easy-to-use, pop-up tub.

Big Relief for Little People

In true Circle of Friends fashion, the company will introduce Little Docs next month, a line of gentle, effective products that alleviate the symptoms of eczema with soothing, natural ingredients that are appropriate for children’s skin. Little Docs features famous doctors throughout history for an educational aspect and appealing design.

According to Ms. Keare, eczema has become a prevalent skin care problem in infants and small children during the past couple of years. An estimated 24% of children ages newborn to 15 suffer the effects of eczema, and of those children, 60% will show symptoms in their first year of life, while 90% will be affected by the age of five. Symptoms are dry, itchy, scaly skin, cracks behind the ears and rashes on the cheeks, arms and legs. While there are several adult products currently on the market for eczema, until now, few were specifically formulated for children.

There’s no sting to Baby Bee shampoo & wash from Burt’s Bees.
Non-irritating Little Docs products are dermatologist-, allergy- and clinically-tested. The formulations are free of sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, synthetic fragrance, dyes, propylene glycol, alcohol, soy, nut oils, gluten, oat and dairy that may cause an allergic reaction. They contain anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredients such as aloe vera, calendula, chamomile, lavender extract and grapefruit oil.

The line includes Soothing shampoo & body wash, Cooling spray lotion, Calming cream and Eczema & Irritated Skin trial size kit. All products are in the $9-$10.50 price range.

So Cozy, New York, NY introduced a natural line of defense against itchy, irritating and all around icky head lice and other insects such as ticks. Boo! Shampoo and Boo! Leave-In Conditioner each cost $12 and are designed to be used together for maximum defense. Boo! Shampoo has natural lice repellants combined with aloe to soothe the scalp and panthenol to add body and shine. Boo! Leave-In Conditioner is a lightweight detangling spray that combines three ingredients insects hate-pure tea tree, rosemary and lavender oils with wheat protein to strengthen hair and prevent damage during blow drying.  Also in the So Cozy line are detangler, swimmer’s shampoo, 2-in-1 conditioning shampoo, deep conditioner, styling cream, styling gel and a brush and comb set.

In time for back-to-school, Just For Me Texture Softener from Pro-Line International was formulated for bi- and multi-racial girls with curly hair.

“Pro-Line recognized that bi-racial and multi-racial families are important consumer groups with needs that weren’t being met with current hair care offerings,” explained Chanda Rhodes, manager of new product innovations, Pro-Line International. “The company recognized that expertise in curly and kinky hair was not only needed for our traditional African American consumer, but for children of all races with hard-to-manage hair.”

Boo! shampoo and conditioner use tea tree oil to scare lice away.
Neither hair relaxer nor texturizer, Just for Me is a calcium hydroxide-based hair care solution that gently softens hair texture with an anti-breakage sunflower oil formula. It defines the child’s hair pattern, leaving it smooth, shiny, strong and healthy, lasts up to 12 weeks and can be used on girls as young as five years old.  The product promises worry-free manageability without straightening hair texture completely and without breakage due to combing and styling after shampooing. Maintenance products include leave-in conditioner, styling cream and 2-in-1 conditioning shampoo and conditioning detangler.   

Kids Are Flankers, Too

Kimberly-Clark recently rolled out 10 additions to its line of Huggies Bath & Body toiletries for babies. These innovations—featuring new formulations, distinctive scents, and colorful, easy-to-use packages—follow a strong first year for the successful product line: Huggies toiletries helped sales in the baby and toddler bath and body category grow by 8% in 2005, according to the company. The launch also helped grow Huggies brand market share in the category to more than 5%.

“Kimberly-Clark has reenergized the baby and toddler bath and body category since entering the market with Huggies Bath & Body toiletries in late 2004,” said Mr. Kalmanson.

Huggies is expanding its Bath & Body brand of toiletries with new offerings which extend the age range to further grow the category. These include Extra Sensitive baby wash, washcloths, lotion and shampoo that are clinically proven safe for a newborns’ gentle skin; Nourishing Mango & Coconut wash, shampoo, lotion and washcloth with vitamins A and E, coconut oil and mango butter extracts; Shea Butter body cream and washcloth; and Lavender & Chamomile shampoo, which offers a calming scent to help soothe babies.

“These additions build on the array of Huggies baby wash, mitts, rash cream, liquid powder and wash cloths successfully introduced over the past year,” said Mr. Kalmanson. “We believe these new offerings will help generate incremental growth for K-C and our retail partners through providing shoppers and users a full line of baby and toddler care solutions.”

New in P&G’s Kandoo line of empowerment products for kids is Kandoo Instant Foaming shampoo and Foaming body wash. Both are available in Mango Melon, Funny Berry and Jungle Fruits scents. Each bottle has over 200 pumps of rich foamy soap, according to P&G.

Little Docs, as seen in this cartoon, uses natural ingredients to treat eczema.
“Parents told us that they needed help beyond the potty training years, and that’s why Kandoo has been so popular with parents and children. Now we’re taking it one step further to help children learn that they ‘can do it themselves’ with our easy-to-use shampoo and body wash,” said Kirk Perry, North America vice president and general manager, Pampers baby and toddler care.

Made especially for small hands and fingers, Kandoo Foaming body wash and Instant Foam shampoo have a broad base, and a wide and easy-to-use pump top that dispenses thick, instant foam. The new bath line helps children learn to clean themselves without having to hang onto slippery soap in the bathtub or battle with difficult-to-open shampoo bottles. In addition, the Instant Foam Shampoo, which is gentle and tear-free, produces a thick foam to help it avoid dripping or running, making it easy for kids to wash their hair.

Johnson’s introduced two new products to its classic pink line, Baby Cream and Moisture Care Wash, that offer the same, distinct scent and moisturizing ingredients for delicate baby skin. Baby Cream provides 24-hour moisturization in a rich non-greasy formula, and retails for $2.99. Moisture Care Wash moisturizes and cleanses without drying skin and uses the “No More Tears” formula. It retails for $1.99 (9 oz.) and $2.99 (15 oz.).

Watching Them Grow

So where will baby care be in the future? Will segmentation remain a strong trend or will consumers turn back to basics? According to Euromonitor International, performance of the baby care market will depend largely on a renewed emphasis on product development and the increasing sophistication of marketing and merchandising strategies, as well as a proliferation of child-specific cosmetics and toiletries products.

So Cozy offers an entire salon line for babies and kids, including a shampoo for swimmers.
Baby bath products will show strong growth, with an increase of almost 19% over the 2005-2010 period. This niche remains the least mature in respect to current trends towards premium products. Manufacturers will vigorously pursue the potential for development, particularly with regard to children under four, in order to develop brands, marketing campaigns and parental buying patterns.

Baby sun care is projected to grow by 18% as the media places more emphasis on sun protection for children. Manufacturers are expected to continue rolling out new sun care products marketed directly to young children.

Baby hair care is forecast to rise by 7% over the 2005-2010 period as consumers are expected to trade up to higher-priced shampoos that possess value-added features or natural or organic ingredients.

Pro-Line’s Chanda Rhodes concluded that future trends would include continued customization of children’s hair products, as seen in the adult hair care category, and an increased focus on products with natural ingredients.