Supporting parents on-the-go
As ‘normal’ life resumes, Danone’s Clare Denham discusses how brands can support families looking for convenient and simple baby feeding solutions.
With COVID-19 restrictions having now been eased – and in some cases entirely lifted – in the UK, we are seeing many consumers return to life-on-the-go, embracing the warmer weather (when it’s not raining, at least) and filling their diaries with long-awaited social plans with family and friends.
This sentiment applies to new parents and their little ones too. And of course, as on-the-go lifestyles make a comeback, the number of out-of-home feeding occasions will also inevitably rise, impacting the baby feeding category as parents look for easy, simple feeding solutions.
But the trend of convenience is not a new one. As a business, we already know that rising temperatures are a key driver for sales of convenient formats in our category – with mums who decide not to exclusively breastfeed, often choosing options that are more convenient than powder formulations whilst they enjoy the summer and holiday activities. However, with social restrictions easing and changes in consumer behaviour emerging, I predict there could be a further spike in demand this summer.
Manufacturers and retailers alike should consider these changing demands and on-the-go behaviours – alongside other broader macro-trends I will touch on later – and how it might impact the products they stock. If they respond with the right innovations and services to support parents, there is a real opportunity to meet shopper needs and help drive sales.
The growing trend of convenience
Convenience has been a growing trend in the baby feeding category for some time now. It’s no secret that parents’ time is precious, and therefore, simple solutions will always be important. Now with families returning to a sense of normality after so long, combined with warmer weather in summer months, we are anticipating the trend of convenience will increase with many parents seeking products that are both easy-to-carry and use as on-the-go feeding occasions rise again.
Whether it’s a family trip to visit the grandparents or a baby group meeting at the park, for those that choose not to or are unable to breastfeed, liquid formulas are a popular option to support on-the-go lifestyles and have a proven track record for performing well in our category. Currently making up 18 percent of the value sales in the baby feeding market,1 their popularity means that 63 percent of parents choose liquids as a preferred feeding solution while on-the-go,2 and we expect to see this trend continue with COVID-19 restrictions lifted.
It’s also important to consider that 40 percent of first purchases tend to be liquid formats,3 demonstrating the key role it plays in the point of market entry. For retailers aiming to make their store a go-to destination for new parents, this is a major area to support parents and grow sales as in-home consumption slows and lockdown ends.
Having conducted extensive research into how parents shop in the infant and toddler feeding category, we suggest offering a comprehensive range of market-leading and trusted brands within the category – including Aptamil and Cow & Gate – which are the leading two brands for volume and value sales across all measures of liquid follow-on formula milks in the UK.4 Stocking liquids next to the same stage – the recommended age that you see on the pack – as their powder equivalents is also key, as it will allow new parents to easily spot the most relevant options.
Outside of the traditional liquid format, innovations are emerging that are meeting the demand for greater convenience in other ways too. We recently launched the UK’s first-ever formula milk to be sold in pre-measured tab formats, which means parents no longer need to measure scoops, with one tab equal to one scoop of powdered formula. Although available exclusively in Boots currently, we have plans to roll this out with other retailers, meaning it should be considered when making plans for 2022.
Evolving lifestyle choices
In addition to convenience, parents are also increasingly prioritising more sustainable lifestyles and ingredients in line with their modern-day needs.
We continually strive to bring innovation to market to support these demands and in the last year, we launched our Aptamil Organics Formula Milks and Cereals ranges in response to growing demand and focus on organic ingredients (particularly within the baby feeding category). This has been a key driver of the growth of the organic segment, which recently hit its highest growth level in 15 years in the UK.5
As we continue on our way back to ‘normal’ following numerous lockdowns, we know that parents’ needs will carry on evolving; and businesses should continue to adapt and innovate to support them. I believe this is key, and it will be the brands and retailers committed to doing this that will unlock the growth potential the baby feeding category can deliver.
- IRI Domestic Value Share. Total Market Inc Ocado & Exc IMS & Discounters. 52w/e 19 June 2021
- Ipsos Milks U&A Study – April 2018 – Q Why feed liquid formula?
- Kantar Brand Health Tracker March 2019: Which of these was the first formula milk format you purchased to feed your baby?
- IRI Total Market (Including Ocado) – L52 w/e 19th Jun 2021
- The Soil Association: The Organic Market Report 2021
About the author
Clare Denham is the UK Head of Channel, Shopper & Category Development at Danone Specialised Nutrition.