Baby retail isn’t just about the babies themselves. As the saying goes, it takes a village — and everyone in that village needs things to help raise the child. Combine that with an increasingly varied population, with 50% of babies born in the U.S. today ethnically diverse, and you end up with a baby category that is much broader than it’s ever been. Walmart has focused on keeping up with these changes to remain one of the top destinations for new parents and their support networks.
“When I think about the baby customer here at Walmart, we span generations — from Gen Z, millennials and others who are becoming parents, and then Gen X and boomers are becoming grandparents and gift givers,” said Ralph Clare, VP of Merchandising, Baby Consumables at Walmart in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Those are key customers in our business. When we think about rising costs and inflation, we’ve seen a rise in higher income shoppers over the past few months, especially in the baby category.”
Clare noted that price is a major decision driver for the modern parent, with 40% of parents looking toward store brands to get what they need without sacrificing quality. Walmart has been combatting rising costs through a combination of affordable options and targeted promotions like Baby Days, which offer deals on everything from strollers to nursery gear.
In addition to addressing one of today’s big problems, inflation, Walmart also is looking toward the future: Clare is constantly working to ensure the retail giant’s selection stays relevant to a constantly changing population.
“We’ve talked about what the population is going to be in 25 years, and that’s where I am today,” said Clare. “We are constantly collaborating with our suppliers and manufacturers to drive innovation. For [diverse parents], we launched melanin-rich baby skincare products, and we relaunched baby shea moisture to attend to the needs that we see today. They’ve been well received by our customers.”
A Category That’s Just as Much About Mom as the Baby
Mothers, whether still expecting or caring for a newborn, have an incredible variety of needs that can require very specific products to meet. Walmart treats stocking what moms need for themselves with as much care as stocking the products needed for the baby.
“One of the things we see in the baby business is moms are the number one underserved customer,” said Clare. “The solutions available are not always ideal for where she is. Everybody focuses on the baby, but nobody really spends a lot of time focusing on mom after she’s been through a tremendous journey. So it’s been a priority for us, and we continue to serve mom throughout her pregnancy and postpartum journey, and we’re bringing more awareness to the space and accessibility of products. We prioritize the mom’s health and wellness.”
Walmart has expanded the in-store footprint of the moms category over the past couple of years, resulting in double-digit sales growth according to Clare. The category is shoppable in about 1,200 stores, with more on the way, as well as through a dedicated post-partum care landing page on its site that can help new mothers easily find the products they need. Additionally, moms with a registry at Walmart can opt in to receive a box of post-partum products once their baby arrives.
“We basically ensure that for every component of your journey postpartum, there’s a solution on our site for it,” said Clare. “She can search for where she is in her journey and we can bring her offerings that help her through that portion. We also have an expanded assortment online of things that she may not find in the store, or if she’s in an area that doesn’t have the mom’s health solution section in-store today. She can easily get those items online and have them delivered right to her home.”
The ultimate goal of Walmart’s baby selection is to ensure its customers can find whatever they want during the hectic experience of raising a young child. The first few months in particular are a time full of both regular and unexpected needs, and getting the baby category right means being prepared to cater to both kinds of shopping journeys.
“We have everything for moms in our box,” said Clare. ”Across the portfolio we have a daily trip, we have the stock-up trip and we have the ‘wake up at two o’clock in the morning trip’ on your phone. We say the closest Walmart store to any parent is in their pocket. We see ourselves as that omni destination for parents on every step of their journey, and we try to create that long-term relationship with them. With their busy lifestyles, we’re here to ensure that they have everything they need at everyday low prices in our assortment of private brands and exclusive baby offerings. All those components are what we’re using to ensure that mom knows that we’re here for every one of her needs.”