Mumbai: Large multinational consumer packaged goods companies are extending their core personal care brands to introduce premium baby care products.

Baby care pioneer Johnson and Johnson (India) and Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) have both introduced extensions of their core brands—Aveeno and Dove, respectively—to offer lotions, creams, soaps, shampoos, and body washes for babies even as other baby care product makers such as Dabur extend their brands to the premium space.

In July, Johnson and Johnson said it was bringing an extension of its premium personal care brand Aveeno to India. “Our overall objective for Aveeno Baby is to establish Aveeno Baby as the leading premium baby care brand rooted in active naturals and wellness," said Deepali Agarwal, head of baby care at Johnson and Johnson India.

According to the company, Aveeno Baby’s biggest ingredient is colloidal oatmeal, a derivative of oats often prescribed for skin diseases including eczema. “Our aim is to educate and share the benefits of using natural ingredients essential for baby care among mothers, for whom their babies are a top priority."

That means they are usually willing to pay more.

Aveeno Baby is priced at a significant premium to other baby-care products. For instance, a 227g bottle of Aveeno Baby daily moisturising lotion is priced at Rs799. The firm’s flagship Johnson and Johnson baby lotion is priced at Rs150 for a 200ml bottle.

HUL, the country’s largest packaged goods firm, test-launched Baby Dove in the quarter to March. This test, of soaps and lotions, was conducted in Maharashtra, south India, West Bengal and the North East, a HUL spokesperson said in an email reply.

“The early response to Baby Dove has been very encouraging and as a result of that we went national with the range in July," the spokesperson added. “We have also expanded the range to add shampoo and body wash."

Just like Aveeno, Baby Dove also positions itself as a go-to for dry skin problems with babies.

“Dove as a brand stands for superior care and is considered a gold standard on moisturizing globally and also in India," the HUL spokesperson said.

However, its products are priced cheaper than Aveeno. A 200ml bottle of Baby Dove lotion is priced at Rs180. Baby Dove rash cream is priced at a hefty Rs210 for a 45g tube.

Both Baby Dove and Aveeno Baby are available in the US.

Johnson and Johnson and HUL are among the first mainstream contenders for a poorly served premium baby-care market, although the overall market for baby products is large.

Dabur India also made an entry into this market in January last year with Dabur Baby, a premium baby care brand of massage oils. Its flagship is a natural baby oil made with olive and almond launched last year. However, the product is still being test-marketed “in select channels and geographies", a Dabur spokesperson said in an email.

The product is mostly sold online and through modern trade, the firm said in its latest annual report. The product is priced at Rs110 for a 100ml bottle, sitting firmly in the premium range that Aveeno and Baby Dove occupy. Dabur’s biggest baby-care offering continues to be the mass market ayurvedic massage oil brand Dabur Lal Tail.

Johnson and Johnson estimates the baby-care market is worth Rs2,000 crore, of which the premium segment is worth Rs130 crore but growing 25% year on year.

HUL also estimates this market is growing “in double digits". 

According to research firm Euromonitor, the overall market for baby and child-specific products is expected to grow at 8% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) between 2017 and 2021 and will be worth Rs2,940 crore in 2021. Johnson and Johnson dominates this market with 75% share of value, the firm said.

“The trend of baby products moving towards premium offerings and preference for herbal products will be one of the key trends in the coming years," Christopher Victor, head of consumer research practice at market researcher GlobalData said in an email.

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