Private labels are increasingly competitive in a number of nonwovens markets, especially among consumer disposables such as baby care and adult personal care products. Among baby wipes, for example, private labels achieved more than one-third of retail sales by 2016, despite the longstanding dominance of brands like Huggies and Pampers. Private labels have continued to make significant additions and enhancements to their baby wipe and diaper lines since then and are sure to continue gaining market share, making the baby care nonwovens market rife with opportunity for store brands.
Private Labels Are Competing Effectively with the Big Baby Care Brands
Some of the most influential retailers compete with name brands by carrying their own private label baby care lines, including:
- ALDI’s Little Journey
- Amazon’s Amazon Elements and Mama Bear
- Costco’s Kirkland Signature
- Sam’s Club’s Member’s Mark
- Target’s Up & Up
- Walmart’s Parent’s Choice
In the last year, Amazon and Walmart have stepped up their product offerings significantly. In September 2017, Walmart relaunched the Parent’s Choice brand with over 100 new products, including the brand’s first premium diaper. In November 2017, Amazon re-entered the diaper market with its new Mama Bear brand. (The Amazon Elements brand only carries baby wipes, since its own diapers weren’t well received when first released in 2014.)
These Are Not Your Mother’s Store Brand Baby Care Products
How are these retailers’ baby care lines so effectively competing with Huggies and Pampers? To be sure, unbeatable prices and privileged placement (both in-store and online) have something to do with it. However, the key to private labels’ success in this market is premiumization. Store brand wipes and diapers are no longer merely the economical choice; increasingly, their quality and performance make them indistinguishable from their name brand alternatives.
As a new dad, I can now say this from my own experience. I’ve made it a point to try a variety of name brand and private label products, and I’ve found some store brand diapers and wipes to be just as good as their name brand competitors. They, too, can offer the qualities one looks for in diapers and wipes, such as:
- durable and absorbent nonwoven fabrics
- gentle, hypoallergenic substrates and additives
- nutraceutical supplements like Vitamin E and aloe vera
- sustainably sourced plant-based ingredients
In addition to premium performance, private labels have stepped up their marketing and packaging appeal, so that if you didn’t know any better you might think that Up & Up, for example, were just another name brand. And they’ve diversified to become full, one-stop-shop product lines. Consider the 100+ items included in the revamped Parent’s Choice line, including not only wipes and diapers but also food, formula, bedding, and more.
Private Labels Are Poised Well for the Future of Baby Care
“Natural” has been a buzzword in baby care for a long time: Kimberly-Clark has its well established Huggies Natural Care brand, and Procter & Gamble has Pampers Natural Clean. And yet the latter just released Pampers Pure, with more minimalistic formulations for wipes and diapers, reflecting just how much baby care brands are competing for a consumer base that is increasingly willing to seek out ingredient lists – and to pay a premium for products that are safer for baby and more eco-friendly.
Indeed, there’s a lot of competition on the high end of the market, with several other prominent brands touting gentle and sustainable diapers and wipes:
- Earth’s Best
- Seventh Generation Free & Clear
- The Honest Company
Nevertheless, private labels are pretty well poised to join the fray. To begin with, their traditional strategy of cutting production costs with minimalistic formulations actually plays pretty well in a market where less is more – that is, less chemical, synthetic stuff, since this risks harming baby and are a burden on the environment. And as they’ve stepped up their products’ performance, private labels have done a decent job of keeping their premiumization in line with what modern parents are looking for in baby wipes and diapers.
In short, private labels have been quite successful in penetrating the market for baby care nonwovens, but they likely won’t stop there: recent rollouts by influential retailers, store-brand products’ increasingly competitive performance, and their opportunity to win over modern parents all point to a promising future.
For more insight into the state of the wipes and nonwovens industries, see Wipes Market in the US and Nonwovens Market in the US, by the Freedonia Group. These comprehensive reports provide the following:
- Historical demand data and forecasts
- Market environment factors
- Industry structure
- Company market share
About the Author
Matt Breuer is an industry analyst at the Freedonia Group, where he writes industry studies focused on the US consumer goods markets.