How can children & baby brands stand out when the sector is declining?

By Dan Pratt
3rd August 2023

We’ve noticed children and baby product search volumes decreasing over the last year, but this doesn’t necessarily mean a total decrease in market demand.

It’s more likely due to a shift in purchase intent and channel engagement, although it is also worth noting that the birth rate in the UK has steadily declined over the past decade.

With the economic downturn, many sectors have suffered as consumers become more deliberate over where they spend their money, often opting for the cheaper second-hand market and cutting out everything but the absolute necessities.

The children and baby sector has definitely been one of those hit, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped having babies entirely. The problem is that the market is fragmented which causes challenges for retailers, especially for multi-brand retailers.

As consumers turn towards second-hand shopping in an effort to be more cost-effective, this fragmentation will only continue and spread to other aspects of the market. There will always be some items that don’t tend to do well as second-hand items, whether for hygiene or safety concerns (like car seats and changing tables) and most first-time parents will continue to buy new for this very reason, but as production quality improves, the second-hand market for these items will grow.

How do brands beat the resellers?

When talking about a shift in search trends for commerce, you can partly attribute the move to second-hand shopping gaining popularity, and the children and baby sector’s recent declining search market demand is no exception.

The likes of Depop, Vinted, and Facebook Marketplace have really changed the game with upcycling, reselling, and buying second-hand becoming the primary consideration for parents instead of the last resort it may have been previously.

This has created a circular economy and the fully emerged reseller markets are dominating this space, but there are opportunities for brands to take advantage and claim back some of their lost revenue.

Think of second-hand phones – it’s very common nowadays for people to buy phones second-hand, but the tech brands have found a way to take back some of this market by offering incentives to consumers who exchange their old phones for new ones with them, whether that’s financial incentives or additional features.

Not only is this a successful strategy of reclaiming your lost consumers, but it also has the added benefit of being more eco-friendly and could raise your profile as a sustainable brand.

We know that consumers are caring more and more about the sustainability of the brands that they buy from, and the children and baby sector is no exception. With the large amounts of plastic products there is a huge opportunity for brands to encourage the reusing and upcycling of products.

Keeping up with the changing market

Firstly, you need to understand that the demands around individual brands are changing. There’s more fragmentation here as consumers are becoming more brand loyal, particularly when there’s strong desirability around specific brands and products. This loyalty is with the brand, not the retailer.

The primary issue is a visibility challenge. It’s becoming progressively clearer that consumers for the children and baby sector just aren’t as reliant on the traditional search channels, but more and more of them are making purchase decisions across social channels driven by influencer activity and strong brand visuals and campaigns. Tik Tok is becoming a more significant platform for searching informational snippets and advice along with Facebook and Instagram being used to introduce brands and products.

Ensuring that you have visibility on these platforms is absolutely key, and although you may not see a direct return immediately, building your presence is an investment for the future of your brand. During economic uncertainty you need to focus on being present and visible to your audience to nurture a sale as much as trying to harvest demand in the very competitive search channels – the revenue will slowly be amplified by the recognition in the visible brands.

A good way of building this is through influencer marketing.

“Mommy Influencers”, as they have been dubbed, hold strong sway over many consumers, with their relatable content and authentic storytelling drawing in large and trusting follower counts. The reach of these influencers should not be underestimated. The potential content from them is also highly specialised and niche, showing not just your products, but the realities of your products by demonstrating how to use them and the issues they fix in day-to-day life as a parent.

Again, this might not drive strong revenue growth immediately, but it will help your audience connect with your brand and is a great way to build further connection with the brand.

How to stand out from competitors

Step away from the idea that the only channels you should be using are the ones that give you the highest ROI, it’s far more important right now to be getting your brand in front of consumers early on in their buying journey and be more visible within audiences.

One way of doing this is to find the small, niche channels that your audience is using and go there, like podcasts, micro-influencers and publications with high engagement. Some of the traditional spaces have plateaued, are in decline, or are so oversaturated that your voice is unlikely to be heard, so having a wider marketing channel mix is more important than ever. But, again, don’t expect results right away.

When you begin to calculate your ROI from any marketing activity, you really need to factor in visibility within the market. Think of the ways you can grow your market share of attention as opposed to only focusing on market share of revenue.

A great way of doing exactly this is through group products and content by need – for example, new parent starter kits with all the key items and none of the optional extras, or personalisation elements with all of the extras for parents who already have the base set of necessities.

Having clear branding on each product can also have a huge impact on this – and I don’t necessarily mean plastering your name or logo across your fabrics. Having a strong brand identity in your colour story and shapes can make your products easily recognisable even without logos.

Essentially, strive to be as helpful to parents as possible, so it’s less about setting the dream view of being a parent but instead about cutting straight to the practicalities of parenthood. When the economy is buoyant you can market the dream of parenthood, but when there’s a downturn people will start to trim the fat from their budgets and will appreciate brands that show generosity, share truly useful information and use real parents’ voices.

And if you’re struggling with cutting through the noise make sure to reach out and we can help put together a winning digital strategy for your brand.


Fascinated by the way that psychology and external forces can impact and influence consumer behaviour and the way that this can inform brand strategies, Dan is our go-to man for designing creative strategies that have meaningful results and build along-term foundations for growth.

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