Take that, Target.
Walmart (WMT) on Wednesday announced a major overhaul of its Parent’s Choice brand of items for babies, adding about 120 new products and improving another 100 in a new move to strengthen its position in a hard fought area of retail.
The efforts are likely designed to help Walmart win the business of younger customers especially as they move into their family-starting and home-investment years and keep them as they age. But they are also a shot across the bow in the direction of Target, which has made baby items one of its top priorities, along with kids items, fashion and wellness products. What’s more, baby products are typically a big driver of store visits by shoppers.
Target’s Cat & Jack fashion line for kids became a $2 billion brand in just a year after its 2016 launch, while Pillowfort kids’ home items are also popular too. Both lines are helping Target combat its bête noire, difficult store traffic trends, and have been key to its fragile improvement in sales.
As for Walmart, the new Parent’s Choice items will be rolled out entirely to the store fleet by January and will include classic products such as sippy cups, bedding and organic food for babies. It will also include what it is positioning as environmentally friendly products such as diapers with lining from sustainable wood pulp, and wash and shampoo with Natural Oat Extract
The baby category is enormous: diapers alone are about a $10 billion a year market in North America, according to Nielsen, while baby food and formula are also multi-billion dollar categories.
Parent’s Choice, as a Walmart store brand, offers the retailer greater margins as well as control over distribution and marketing than it has with so-called “national brands” or products sold by many retailers. What’s more, when successful, private brands help a retailer stand out from the pack.
Walmart said it would continue to expand the line to eventually include 275 products.