In 2021, nappies/diapers/pants registered a decline in retail volume sales, a continuing trend since the end of the review period due to a declining birth rate in Belgium. With many parents still working from home in 2021, there was a greater willingness to try alternative options to disposable products in the form of reusable/washable nappies/diapers.
Manufacturers have been trying to make diapers/nappies last longer which is leading to many parents using fewer units for their babies, partly due to cost considerations but also due to a growing focus on environmental issues. While environmentally-friendly products have gained share, they remained a niche, with a baby’s comfort remaining a priority for many parents.
Nappies/diapers/pants continued to be led by Procter & Gamble with its Pampers brand, and private label represented by the likes of Etn Franz Colruyt NV (Happy Baby), Delhaize 'Le Lion' SA (Delhaize Care Junior), Carrefour Baby, and discounters Aldi (Bebino) and Lidl, with discounters benefiting from increasing demand for more affordable options. While Pampers has been forced to respond to increasing pressure from private label towards the end of the review period with aggressive price promotions, enabling it to reduce its price gap, the brand has also been introducing larger pack sizes, appealing to cost-conscious consumers who appreciate the lower longer-term cost savings of buying in bulk.
Lingering price sensitivity, and the ongoing home seclusion trend heading into 2021 despite the likelihood of a gradual relaxation of restrictions, will result in further declining demand for nappies/diapers/pants, driven by the larger categories of nappies/diapers. The latter is predicted to record a weak performance in volume terms over the forecast period as a whole due to a shrinking consumer base as the birth rate is expected to further decline.
Faced with declining demand for nappies/diapers, players are likely to look to ways to add value to the category. One way to increase prices is through the offer of premium products positioned as offering additional attributes such as greater absorbency.
While modern grocery retailers, including supermarkets, is likely to continue to dominate distribution of nappies/diapers/pants in Belgium, there has been a more notable shift in demand within this channel towards discounters as consumers searched for more affordable prices. E-commerce is also likely to gain further penetration of the category, not only offering competitive prices but also the convenience of home delivery, with the channel gaining notable share during the COVID-19 pandemic due to home seclusion and the work-from-home trend.
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