Baby and child-specific products in Western Europe stagnated over the 2011-2016 period, which mirrors the flat population growth of the under 12 years old age group in the region. Although baby wipes generated the majority of regional growth in the category, value-added categories such as medicated products and nappy rash treatments posted the most dynamic growth. International brands are coming under pressure from labels with strong pharma-positioning and functional claims.
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Despite the region’s relative affluence, in absolute value terms it only contributed 2% of the global sales gain over 2011-2016. The low absolute growth in the region was largely caused by the market value contraction of major markets. The market value stagnation in the region mirrored the flat population growth of the under 12 years old age group.
Baby wipes saw fast value growth not just due to the convenience aspect but also the variety of purposes for which these products can be used, besides cleaning the baby. For example, consumers use these to remove make-up and stains from clothes, or clean the surroundings where the baby is eating or playing.
Although baby wipes generated the majority of regional growth in baby and child-specific products over 2011-2016, value-added categories such as medicated baby and child-specific products and nappy rash treatments posted the most dynamic growth, albeit from a smaller base. These categories were holding up positive performance even in markets with overall market value contraction, such as Italy or the Netherlands.
Baby and child-specific products in most Western European markets are still most commonly purchased via hypermarkets/supermarkets or drugstores and chemists. The highly diverse distribution landscape indicates high market and price fragmentation in the region. This also makes premiumisation and launching added-value innovations a necessary strategy in any category where achieving volume growth is difficult, given the consistently low birth rates.
Although the top three labels in the region maintained the status quo over the last 10 years, their value shares have been eroding at different rates. The competition is more intense among the mid-tier, pharma-positioned, specialist brands with Mustela, Huggies and Bepanthen leaping ahead in the regional ranking.