Amazon breaks into baby care with revamped diaper line
Amazon is once again selling diapers under its private "Mama Bear" brand, in sizes newborn and 1 to 6, a company spokesperson confirmed to Retail Dive.
The diapers yet aren't available on Amazon's website, except to Prime members who have received an invitation to buy them, a spokesperson said.
- Amazon two years ago pulled its line of diapers after "early customer feedback," less than two months after launching the private-label brand, then part of its Amazon Elements stable available only to Prime members. Those diapers were manufactured by Canadian company Irving Personal Care Products, while the new line features those made by Kimberly-Clark, according to CNET.
Amazon took its sweet time re-launching the diaper private label — perhaps in an abundance of caution after the last effort failed — and even this invitation-only launch appears to be quite careful. A company spokesperson told Retail Dive that Amazon is in the midst of collecting feedback for the diapers and for possible future Mama Bear products.
"We’re giving Prime members an early preview of Mama Bear diapers," the spokesperson said in an email. "We want to build the Mama Bear brand with customers and are excited to hear their feedback as we continue working hard to bring them products we think they will love."
The move comes a few months after the e-commerce giant shuttered its unprofitable Quidsi unit, which it bought from Marc Lore in 2010, who went on to found Jet and is now Walmart's U.S. e-commerce chief. Among Quidsi's e-commerce sites was Diapers.com, which was a popular destination for parents looking to replenish baby care basics. The diaper debut "is unrelated to Quidsi," however, according to the Amazon spokesperson.
In any case, the product seems an obvious one for Amazon, considering its success selling baby wipes, among other consumer goods. The bestselling private label item outside of its AmazonBasics electronics line is Amazon Elements Baby Wipes, "Sensitive 480 count," which has earned $2.5 million in sales year to date, according to research from e-commerce analytics firm One Click Retail. Amazon Elements ranks third behind Huggies and Pampers in baby wipes and has accounted for some $10 million in sales so far this year.
Indeed, Amazon's AmazonBasics private label goods dominate its private brand sales, with over $250 million a year to date (a whopping 85% of total private brands sales in the U.S.), but its apparel label Lark & Ro and baby care and vitamins brand Amazon Elements have each grown 90% from last year, One Click Retail found.
The success with private labels at Amazon and elsewhere comes in part because younger shoppers, particularly the millennials who came of age during the Great Recession, are less brand-loyal than their parents and grandparents. That's provided fertile ground for retailers with high-quality private label brands. The number of heads of households shopping at dollar stores under 35 years-old earning more than $100,000 a year increased 7.1% between 2012 and 2015, compared to 3.6% at all retail stores, according to Nielsen research. Some 29% of millennial dollar store consumers earn over $100,000 annually and accounted for about 25% of sales at those stores, much of it no-name brands of common household items, according to market research firm NPD's Checkout Tracking.
That's all part of a major shakeup in consumer goods that is upending the relationship between brands and retailers. But selling directly through Amazon isn't necessarily the answer either. While, on the one hand, you can control much of your marketing and branding, on the other, Amazon knows what and how much you're selling and might develop a competing item based on your best-selling product. Amazon has about two years of information on diaper sales from Huggies, Pampers and others that it has no doubt leveraged for its new Mama Bear line in determining features and pricing.
"If I were a CPG maker or retailer, I would definitely have to figure out what should I do now," Mihir Kittur, co-founder and chief commercial officer at e-commerce customer engagement firm Ugam, told Retail Dive earlier this year. "They're clearly seeing pressure from subscriptions, like The Dollar Shave Club, and private label. But it depends — across the board, there are brand-conscious shoppers and price-conscious shoppers. As people get more price sensitive, they start to move to private label, and that will happen more in any economic downturn."
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