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Baby baubles: a baby care update: as awareness grows, the baby care market moves into a socially-conscious direction. (Cover Story).

MARKETERS are doing anything but taking baby steps in the baby care market. The segment, valued at $171.5 million, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago (excluding Wal-Mart results), is rapidly changing with the changing times. And the competition is fierce. Following a recent baby boom, several new products have been introduced to satisfy the evolving needs of new and expectant mothers. Mothers today are more concerned about the environment and babies' long-term health, which often flies in the face of age-old traditions.

"Mothers are becoming more educated and aware of the types of things they want for their children," said Elizabeth Thibaudeau, vice president of marketing, Nu Skin. "In this modern day, women are no longer accepting the traditions handed down from their mothers and grandmothers."

Moms also have more resources at hand than mothers of the past.

"Moms today have so much more information at their fingertips today than they did years ago, such as instant information via the internet, which can make moms' lives easier," noted Cindy Abella senior product manager, Baby Magic toiletries and wipes, Playtex.

Moms are also highly concerned with making life simple during such an important task as child-rearing.

"Convenience and making life simpler continue to be more and more important to moms as many of them are always on the go," added Ms. Abella. "Moms today are looking for products that are unique, offer value-added benefits and make the whole baby skin care regimen easier."

Cutting Corners and Time

Johnson & Johnson, the No. 1 vendor of baby shampoo, baby soap and baby powder, said the No. 1 thing on mothers' minds is the best care of their babies, but a close second is time-management.

"Time-saving products that provide gentle and effective care are what mothers are looking for," said a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson. "An added bonus is if they can also use the same products for themselves."

Johnson & Johnson had sales of $46.7 million in the baby soap category for the year ended June 15, 2003, according to IRI. J&J's new SoftWash line, introduced in February, includes a baby wash, baby shampoo and gentle cleansing cloths. They are formulated to give both babies and rooms soft skin and hair. The baby wash formula is thick, which makes it easy to use with a pouf, washcloth or directly on skin. Johnson's SoftWash Baby shampoo features a gentle yet thick and creamy "pearlized" formula--a first for Johnson's Baby shampoo--with extra softening ingredients.

Each product contains the 'No More Tears' formula so they won't irritate baby's eyes, in addition to silk proteins. The products are soap-free, non-drying, and dermatologist- and allergy-tested. They also have a unique, new "baby-soft" scent that includes the aroma of delicate blossoms of freesia, a splash of apricot and warm vanilla undertones.

The SoftWash Gentle Cleansing cloths also offer the convenience moms love, in addition to germ-fighting power and J&J's gentle touch.

"With regards to the cleansing cloths, moms are looking for a product that is disposable so that they can use a fresh, germ-free and clean washcloth every use," a J&J spokesperson insisted. "In addition, these cleansing cloths are softer than regular washcloths."

As an expert in understanding baby skin care needs, Johnson & Johnson is also launching a line of adult-focused products designed to deliver baby-soft skin. The Johnson's SoftLotion line consists of three variants: 24-Hour Moisture, Creamy Moisturizing oil and Bedtime lotion.

"This line is different than other Johnson's Baby products in that the lotions contain natural lipids, which skin loses as we age, to help skin retain moisture and stay supple and soft," said a J&J spokesperson. "Also, the SoftLotion products will be found in the adult moisturizer aisle."

Johnson's SoftLotion 24-Hour Moisture, with hydrating emollients, provides immediate moisture that lasts for up to 24 hours. Johnson's SoftLotion Creamy Moisturizing Oil absorbs fast, and is a non-greasy moisturizer that softens skin like an oil, but looks and feels like a lotion. It is enriched with Johnson's Baby Oil, which helps seal in moisture. The Bedtime Bath lotion contains a relaxing blend of lavender and chamomile.

Gerber is the No. 3 vendor in the baby soap category which rose 30% to $11.9 million for the year ended in June. Gerber recently introduced Baby wash and Baby lotion in the Baby Berry scents. The products are also formulated with SkinNutrients, a blend of seven vitamins and natural ingredients to protect delicate skin. The lotion and wash are also available in original, lavender and oatmeal variants.

Basking in the Sunshine

Besides convenience, nearly 80% of new and expectant parents are concerned about their toddlers' sun safety, but 56% said they did not feel fully informed about how to protect their children from the sun, according to a survey by The survey also found discrepancies: while 91% of parent say there are diligent about beach or pool sun protection, only 64% regularly apply sunscreen during other outdoor activities.

Sun care expert Banana Boat, a division of Playtex, formulated a line of baby-friendly sunscreens to help promote safety in the sunshine.

"The baby care segment within the sun care category is growing for two reasons: increased awareness among consumers of the damaging effects of the sun and the need for a product that provides strong protection from the sun, yet is safe and gentle enough for baby's delicate skin," said Ms. Abella.

The 8-oz. Instant Protection lotion SPF 50 contains titanium dioxide and high UVA/UVB protection in a waterproof formulation. It also is enriched with vitamins A, C and E, as well as aloe. The company said it is clinically tested to be hypoallergenic and mild and gentle products are a high priority. Mothers also look for products that are moisturizing and endorsed by health care professionals.

The new 8-oz. waterproof spray SPF 48 also contains titanium dioxide for UVA/UVB protection, as well as vitamins and moisturizers to keep babies' skin soft and nourished. These products join the 4-oz. Baby Magic sunblock lotion SPF 50. The products range in price from $6.99-10.99.

Playtex also offered additional sun care tips, including using a brimmed hat, sunglasses and lightweight clothing on babies, as well as reapplying sunscreen continuously outdoors. Babies under the age of six months should not be in direct sunlight at all. On older babies, sunblock should be applied from the scalp down, making sure not to forget the vulnerable skin on the feet.

With annual sales of $12.1 million, Playtex Baby Magic soaps are the No. 2 best-selling baby soaps in the U.S., according to IRI. The company added the Baby Magic Calming Milk line, which includes a bath, foaming bath and lotion, as well as a gift bag with the three products and a "Sweet Dreams" compact disc and washcloth. The products are fortified with milk protein, which is known to moisturize and nourish the skin and hair. The fragrance, a combination of lavender and chamomile, helps to sooth and relax babies. The Baby Magic Calming Milk bath also uses aloe to moisturize the skin. All of the products are dye- and tear-free, executives said.

A Line of Epoch Proportion

The workplace has had a profound influence on child-rearing habits because often times both parents must work to support the family. With both parents working, they may feel guilty and over-indulge their children.

"Dual-income families are on the rise and mothers feel that if they search out new products, they will give better attention to their babies," explained Nu Skin's Ms. Thibaudeau. "Consumers want value-added baby care items and specialty brands are expected to grow 21% over the next three years."

Epoch Baby, a baby care first for the Nu Skin division, debuted last October. The line relies on ethnobotanical knowledge from indigenous peoples. Executives said all of the researched cultures place great emphasis on their children, and these findings have now brought several unique ingredients to parents around the world.

One ingredient, hibiscus flowers, is used in Southeast Asia and Central America to maintain a healthy scalp. The new Epoch Baby Hibiscus Hair and Body Wash has two primary benefits: moisture from hibiscus flowers and convenience from an instant foaming dispenser.

The Ylang Ylang massage gel, inspired by practices in Polynesia and IndoMalaysia, warms the skin on contact. "The gel format melts very quickly into a baby's skin," explained Ms. Thibaudeau. "It is easy to apply and doesn't slip all over the baby."

The gel also offers a way for parents to feel closer to their children. "There is a huge trend in finding ways to bond with babies," Ms. Thibaudeau insisted. "Research shows it helps with self-esteem and muscle development."

The company offers instructions on how to increase circulation through massage, starting from the heart.

For moist areas such as the diaper region, Nu Skin offers Epoch Baby Babassu Liquid powder. The powder is derived from the lining of the Babassu nut, which is harvested in South America. The product took a long time to develop, due to powder safety issues.

"There have been recent concerns with inhalation of airborne particles," Ms. Thibaudeau noted. "We opted to go with a liquid powder; it dries down to a dry, silky powder."

Gerber also recently introduced a Roll-On baby powder to address inhalation concerns.

Nu Skin's Ms. Thibaudeau noted that a portion of the proceeds from Epoch products goes to the Force for Good Foundation, an organization that helps children around the world. In buying these products, consumers are hedging away from the cocooning trend that defined much of the 1990s.

These new consumers are called "butterflies," consumers who seek to reconnect with their worlds, according to a Unity Marketing study. Butterflies believe wealth carries social responsibilities, and affluent consumers tend to adopt cultural and consumer trends early, which trickle down to mass consumer markets. In so doing, consumers are expected to build new connections with the external world in terms of the media, travel and electronic networks. "People are trying to be a part of something greater than themselves," Ms. Thibaudeau said.

A Natural Decision

Natural ingredients have been steadily growing in the personal care arena as part of a growing awareness of health and environmental concerns. Motherlove Herbal Company, Laporte, CO, recently launched the Birth & Baby set, a combo for new moms that contains lavender-based Birth & Baby massage oil in a 2-oz. size and the citrus-scented Birth & Baby spritzer.

The new Pregnancy Sample pack features five of Motherlove's most popular products for moms-to-be: a 0.5-oz. Pregnant Belly oil, 0.25-oz. Pregnant Belly salve, 0.25-oz. Rhoid balm (hemorrhoids), 0.5-oz. Birth & Baby massage oil and 0.5-oz. Baby Me bath for mom and baby. Ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil and organic essential oils work to comfort mother and baby. Executives said many moms are demanding preservative-free products and the company does not use petroleum-based products, artificial fragrances, dyes or preservatives.

Natural soap maker Indigo Wild, Kansas City, MO, has added to its Wee personal care line for infants. Using natural and gentle ingredients, executives said the products do not contain foaming agents or sulfates, which can be irritating. All products, which include Indigo Wild Wee bar, rub, mist and body lotion, are available in the company's Lullaby Lavender scent. Featuring the soothing qualities of lavender, Indigo Wild executives also noted the products are free of lanolin, mineral oil and synthetic fragrances. The most recent addition to the line was Wee body shea butter and meadow-foam seed oil lotion in the Lullaby Lavender scent.

Burt's Bees dusting powder was recently repackaged in a 90% post-consumer recycled plastic, bright yellow shaker bottle. The Raleigh, NC-based company moved from a paper drum to a paper tube in the quest to find environmentally sound, convenient package. But paper packages did not ultimately work, due to traveling issues and humid environments where consumers often used and stored the powder. Due to Burt's Bees environmental philosophy, executives had vowed not to use virgin plastic and were looking for recyclable options.

"About a year ago, we found a company that offers post-consumer recycled plastic," explained Roxanne Quimby, president and co-founder of Burt's Bees. "Under those conditions, we felt we could use plastic."

That move led the company to rethink many of its aluminum tubes as well. Ms. Quimby noted the Baby Diaper ointment will be sold in a post-consumer recycled plastic tube by the end of 2003. In fact, all aluminum tubes are being phased out.

"This is a real innovation for Burt's Bees," Ms. Quimby insisted. "Most filling equipment and closures are tooled for plastic. In not using the industry standard and we were getting bogged down. Using a more mainstream package was much easier for us."

With ingredients such as cornstarch, bentonite clay, myrrh, slippery elm bark and rosebuds, Burt's Bees dusting powder is designed to soothe and heal chafing, prickly heat and skin irritations. Executives said the talc-free product is 99.63% natural.

No Fussing About Hair

To expand the baby care category beyond diapers and skin, some manufacturers are now targeting hair. Hair accessory company Goody, a division of Newell Rubbermaid, has introduced Goody Baby, the first nationally branded line of hair accessories for infants, according to the company. Executives said the accessories are "baby smart" and have the appropriate size, comfort and safety for newborns and infants during their developmental stages.

Products include infant slumber cap set, infant comb and brush set, cloth Pony-O's, lace, ribbon and satin hair-wraps and Velcro and plastic barrettes.

In the Beginning

Parents want the best for their children, and for personal care product manufacturers, that means products that are mild, convenient, safe, comfortable and socially conscious. They also want value-priced products or value-added products, depending on their economic situation. Ironically, as consumers move closer to natural products that are focused on the family, they're relying less on family tradition and more on other sources of information such as the internet. Perhaps the web is the next frontier for baby care companies to expand their business.
J&J Dominates the Baby Soap Sector

Johnson & Johnson continues to lead the baby soap category in food,
drug and mass merchandisers for the year ended June 15, 2003. Figures
do not include Wal-Mart results. All dollar figures are in millions.

Vendor $ Sales % Change $ Share Sales % Change

Johnson & Johnson 46.78 2.9 59.2 13.22 -4.4
Playtex 12.99 4.1 16.4 4.28 1.8
Gerber 11.98 29.9 15.2 3.76 30.3
Private Label 5.27 -3.3 6.7 2.40 0.2
Del Labs 0.57 5430.1 0.7 0.11 6457.6
Coty Baby 0.44 379.1 0.6 0.05 340.2
Avent America 0.21 -46.4 0.3 0.02 -36.2
Chattem 0.17 -54.1 0.2 0.04 -51.3
Lander 0.14 61.9 0.2 0.14 62.8
Yardley of London 0.06 -5.8 0.1 0.06 -2.5
Category Total 79.06 6.9 100.0 24.31 2.1

Source: Information Resources Inc., Chicago. Wal-Mart sales
are not included.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Rodman Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:MacDonald, Veronica
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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