Dec 15, 2008

Business - Now, action heats up in baby-care market

Suvi Dogra & Joe C Mathew

The action is heating up in the Rs 1,500-crore domestic baby-care market with international brands such as Avent, Nuby and Tenderils deciding to introduce specialised premium products in a bid to grab market share from well-entrenched players like Johnson & Johnson.

Even the domestic gifts and greeting company Archies plans to introduce luxury toys and accessories for infants. It plans to introduce soft toys, apparel, accessories and even room decor products for new borns.

Its foray into the baby care market is led by demand arising out of lack of organised players in the segment.

Till date, the organised domestic baby-care market was limited to personal care products where Johnson & Johnson dominates with around 85 per cent market share, followed by Wipro (Consumer Care), which has a limited number of products. However, given the rise in organised retail and growing number of pharma retail chains, manufacturers feel the time is right to expand in the country with premium offerings.

By introducing products, ranging from specialised herbal skin care products, anti-colic bottles, baby-apparel, baby accessories to room decor options, the players are expanding the scope of the market, which is growing at 15-20 per cent per annum.

“New players are broadening the baby-care market by introducing specialised products for the first time. Operating in niche categories will not only help the manufacturers establish their brand but also introduce Indian consumers to global products,” notes an industry observer.

US-based baby products brand Nuby, for instance, has decided to go premium, while the New Delhi-based AKC Group's Kräuter has adopted the herbal mantra. Dutch consumer electronics and lifestyle products company Philips, on its part, will roll out its Avent brand with specialised mother and baby-care products in India next year. The brand includes products ranging from milk bottles to skin care range and is sold in countries like the UK, US, Spain and Italy.

Nuby, known for its premium, chemical-free baby care products, will introduce its entire range of its products in the Indian market. The company is also planning to outsource some of its products from contract manufacturers in Mumbai for marketing in the region. It will launch 25 premium products under the brand Nuby Natural Touch within three months, according to Michael R Ariel, president of international sales for Nuby.

The company claims that Nuby Natural Touch products are the only Bisphenol A (a harmful chemical) free ones available in the market. The company will have feeders, teethers and accessories under this brand and looks at $ 35 million revenues from its Indian business in the coming years.

Ariel said Nuby products are currently available in all leading lifestyle retail chains like West Side, Pantaloons, Landmark, etc. It is also sold through upmarket retail drug stores. The company aims at expanding the reach of its products and has set aside $1 million (around Rs 5 crore) towards niche advertisements.

“The increase in number of retail formats has helped both international and domestic brands find the right channel for better outreach. The penetration for this category had been lagging for long now,” adds the industry expert.

Kräuter, on the other hand, decided to open a new sub-category of Tenderils, becoming the first company in India to do so. Its personal care range Tenderils, includes products such as mosquito repellent cream, teething gel, body wash, massage oil, bath oil, body lotion, nourishing cream, nappy rash cream and body talc.


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