Parents, grandparents and other family members involved with the challenging business of caring for babies and young children represent a gigantic market for a huge array of products sold through supermarkets. The full list of categories includes such staples as baby food and drinks, nappies, baby wipes and other cleaning equipment, OTC medicines, clothing and toys.
Babies themselves don’t change with each generation. They always were, and will always be extremely demanding creatures, needing regular attention, feeding, bathing, changing and all the rest of it. It’s the same wherever you are on the socioeconomic scale but having more money to spend certainly buys a better quality of child rearing experience from food and baby care products to childcare services for working mothers.
A perennial cliché of parenthood is the young couple having to trade in their smaller car for a bulky people carrier or 4 by 4 when the baby comes. It’s a key ‘driver’ in the trend we’re seeing to big cars that are too wide for standard width supermarket parking bays and access roads, but that’s a separate conversation!
The exciting news for retailers and manufacturers in the baby and kids market is that the UK is now home to some of Europe’s biggest families, buying more products and spending more money.
As the Daily Telegraph reported in August 2015, data from Eurostat, the European statistics agency, revealed that in 2013 around 10% of babies born in the UK had three or more older siblings. Big families mean big spenders. Immigration and a trend for the wealthy to have more babies has left Britain with some of the largest families in 40 years, at the same time as the average family size is shrinking. There are more families around with four or more children than any time since the early 1970s, and fewer nuclear families with the stereotype 2.4 children that emerged in the second half of the last century thanks to family planning.
Another trend is that the IT revolution of the last few years has transformed parenting. For baby monitors a generation ago, read webcams, Facetime and all the rest. Working parents can see from their desks how their baby is getting on, instruct carers accordingly and order products as needed.
Speaking of which, bringing up children has never been an easy business, but getting hold of bulky essentials like nappies is infinitely easier now thanks to home shopping, omnichannel retailing and all the rest. Parents of children born before online shopping can only dream of nappy delivered to their door at the click of a mouse! Finally, it’s easy now to find information on line about all aspects of parenting, though of course parents still have to think for themselves and be discerning.