U.S. baby products purchasing rebounded, growing three percent compared to last year, according to TABS Analytics’ 2018 Baby Products Study.

According to the annual baby products study, an increase in purchasing from the lower income brackets (under $50,000) was a part of the reason for stabilization. The study says that purchasing also grew for older households, particularly those ages 65 to 74. While purchase incidence is higher for households with young children than households without young children, households without young children comprise about 58 percent of the buyers overall and 50 percent of any given baby products segment. Purchase incidence for households without young children is 16 percent overall, the study showed.

The TABS Baby Products Study, conducted in March 2018 with Toluna, surveyed 2,000 geographically and demographically dispersed consumers between the ages of 18 and 75. The study analyzed the outlet shopping patterns of the buyers, with a focus on comparing online to brick-and-mortar, and measured non-tracked channels such as Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us.

The study analyzed six major infant and baby needs product categories: 1) baby seat and safety products (car seats, strollers, baby monitoring devices); 2) baby feeding (cups, bottles, plates); 3) diapers and accessories; 4) baby formula, 5) baby food; and 6) baby needs (powders, ointments, lotions). This year’s study also cross-referenced consumer purchasing across nine consumer sectors: baby, books, clothes, electronics, beauty, pet, office, jewelry, and sports.

Here are five key findings from the study:

  • The webinar included a discussion of the recent closure of Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us and what that might do to purchasing in the category. According to the study, only about 25 percent of buyers purchase at either retailer and of those buyers, 80 percent of their transactions were done in other channels. The study suggests that sales will shift toward food, drug, club, and dollar stores, giving these retailers an opportunity to enhance their assortment in key category segments.
  • The baby industry’s “Big 4” (Walmart, Target, Amazon, and Toys “R Us/Babies “R” Us) account for only 50 to 55 percent of all transactions. Club, food, and dollar stores all have meaningful contributions, the study says, especially among non-edible items. Other specialty outlets such as Marshall’s or TJ Maxx showed meaningful sales.
  • The disparity in baby category sales by income is one of the most noteworthy dynamics that marketers should understand. When looking at the various segments within the baby category, even food and formula skewed toward higher income consumers. Those whose household incomes are over $100,000 are twice as likely to purchase food or formula (26 percent incidence) as those whose incomes are between $50,000 and $99,000, the study says. When looking at eCommerce spending, the only two segments where higher income households purchase more frequently are food and formula.
  • Ecommerce’s share of outlet purchases, a proxy for share of purchase occasions, grew for four out of the six baby care categories. Diapers and baby formula both saw .6 percentage point declines. For diapers, Amazon’s share dropped from 7 percent to 6.6 percent in the study despite Amazon folding Diapers.com into its offerings. Baby food saw a 3.9 percentage point increase, including spikes of 1 and 1.8 percentage points at Amazon and Walmart respectively. Walmart’s jump in the study now brings the retailer’s eCommerce segment to a tie with Amazon in the baby food category.
  • The larger types within the diaper segment, such as wipes and disposable diapers, saw penetration gains. Baby wipes grew from 14.4 percent to 15.3 percent and disposable diapers grew from 12.1 percent to 14.2 percent. Within the safety category, penetration was roughly flat compared to 2017, the study said. Strollers grew from 6.4 percent to 6.9 percent, but potty seats declined from 5.5 percent to 4.7 percent in penetration, the study said.