A Look at the UK Market

Reflecting on a strong 2022 for Soothers

as published by GfK in January 2023 Progressive Preschool

As we review the first 10 months of data for 2022 for total Babycare categories tracked by GfK, it has been a positive year in terms of value, following a rough two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of October 2022, value was up 15% compared to Jan-Oct in 2021, and 27% versus the same period in 2020. Compared to 2019, the market was behind by 6%.

Looking at how the total market has performed in terms of volume, however, is not the same positive story. Volume sales continued to decline year to year. Between Jan-Oct 2022 volume dropped a minor 0.3% compared to the same period in 2021 and 1% compared to 2020. However, the comparison to the pre-pandemic market in 2019 a fall of 18% shows how much ground has been lost.

SOOTHER SALES ENJOYED A SUCCESSFUL 2022

For the period Jan-Oct 2022, soothers saw the highest value sales since GfK began tracking the product group. Value for soothers was up 13% compared to the same period in 2021 and 22% versus 2020, both just behind the growth for total Babycare. When compared to 2019, soothers posted 10% value growth. Prior to 2022, 2018 had been the highest value year for Soothers currently, value is 9% higher than we reported for Jan-Oct 2018.

The rising value is being driven in part by price increases over the last few years, and especially during 2022. Looking annually from 2017 to 2021, between Jan-Oct there was on average a 5% rise in average selling price for Soothers. That changed in 2022 when we recorded a 10% increase in the average price for a Soother. This growth is driven by inflation and the cost of materials and is also impacted by consumers trading up to premium brands.

Our analysis shows that higher prices have not impacted demand as volume sales of Soothers in 2022 was up 2% versus Jan-Oct 2021 and 6% compared to 2020. Despite being one of the few categories in Babycare to experience volume growth in 2022, it was unable to improve upon its 2019 position and a comparison reveals it was down 9%. However, based on the gradual increase of volume over the last three years, it is possible that in 2023 we will see volume return to similar pre-pandemic levels.

Part of the success has come from sales of Soothers for children aged 12mths and over. Demand for Soothers for this age group grew 29% value from Jan-Oct 2022 versus the same period in 2021. Compared to 2016, the value for this age group has grown 647%. Volume sales experienced a similar trend, up 19% versus 2021 and 479% compared to 2016.

GRADUAL MOVE TO ONLINE PURCHASING

Traditional in-store buying remains the popular way for consumers to purchase Soothers, however, the amount of volume and value moving online has slowly increased since 2021. This will also have an impact on the market value as consumers spent on average 34% more for a soother online versus in-store.

THE OUTLOOK FOR NEXT YEAR

Looking forward into 2023, Soothers will continue to see success as GfK expects the volume of sales continues to return to pre-pandemic levels. Continued demand for products for children 12mths and over will continue to help the category grow. Other factors such as continued price rises will help support continued value growth.

 We are grateful to GfK for this research.

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