As hard working parents with young families will tell you, anything that makes it easier to shop for essentials for babies and kids is going to be appreciated, whether it’s cheaper nappies in store or a full scale on line baby and toddler equipment service.

According to Mintel, the market research experts, from 2005 onwards the UK saw a baby boom, with higher birthrates helping fuel demand for baby equipment. This sent spending on baby and nursery equipment surging by a third to reach £753 million in 2010. This works out at £195 for every child under five, much of it lavished on the first born, the rest presumably having to put up with hand me downs.

We’ve been facing austerity over the last few years but even so, it’s still the case that only the best will do for baby’s food and drink. The range available has changed beyond recognition since 2000, giving greater choice than ever before. As a nation of food lovers, today’s parents want to expose their babies to a wide variety of flavours and develop their taste buds early. As a result, increasingly sophisticated and exotic baby foods are appearing on our shelves.

Mums and dads may be cutting back in other areas, but they’re still reluctant to compromise on the quality of the food they give to their little darlings. This has shielded baby food and drink sales from the economic downturn more than other markets, and as a category they have continued to enjoy healthy growth. The fact more mums are returning to full-time employment and doing it earlier than a generation ago makes the speed and convenience of prepared baby food a necessity in their hectic lives.

However, the rate of value growth has slowed, with the market stagnating in volume terms, as more parents turn to homemade baby food. Many consumers see home made baby food as safer, cheaper and more controllable than shop bought, affording health-conscious parents greater peace of mind, though some of the switching has been fuelled by cost considerations.

One area of ‘Baby & Kids’ where multiple grocers do well, but could do much better is children’s OTC medicine. Many supermarkets site their OTC medicines near the in store pharmacy, providing parents with access to advice and giving them the confidence to give their baby relief from symptoms of minor ailments such as colic, teething, and constipation without involving the GP or nurse. Turning this potential into increased consumer off take will be key to expanding the children’s OTC market in 2013 and beyond.

The Grocery Trader

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