BABY BUILDERS BUMPS UP BUSINESS

FREMONT, Mich. -- In an effort to help retailers build their baby aisle sales, Gerber, here, just completed its Baby Builders program with the help of category management firm Cannondale Associates, Wilton, Conn.pler and more convenient for time-starved mothers.Don Stuart, partner at Cannondale Associates, said supermarkets have been concerned with the flat sales within the baby aisle. "The annual

FREMONT, Mich. -- In an effort to help retailers build their baby aisle sales, Gerber, here, just completed its Baby Builders program with the help of category management firm Cannondale Associates, Wilton, Conn.

pler and more convenient for time-starved mothers.

Don Stuart, partner at Cannondale Associates, said supermarkets have been concerned with the flat sales within the baby aisle. "The annual growth rate for all other outlets has been up 20% in the category, so we saw a lot of opportunity to help supermarket retailers," he said.

If retailers aren't working hard to attract new mothers to their stores, they are leaving a lot of money on the table, according to Stuart. "These are very attractive consumers and attractive targets for grocers. The more that retailers can do to establish loyalty that's based on something other than price, like convenience and selection, the better their chance of attracting this key customer at the household formation stage," he said.

Stuart noted that each one of the six major categories in the baby aisle -- care, wellness, wipes, food, formula and diapers -- generates more than 95% of its sales right from the shelf and not from a display on the end of the aisle. Therefore, it's important to set the shelf correctly.

"If you set the aisle correctly and put categories in the right flow, with key anchor categories and key profit generators together, you can increase sales up to 7% and profits up to 8% in the aisle," Stuart said.

Gerber's Baby Builders program recommendations include:

Put care and HBC products between two anchor categories like food and formula. Put diapers and wipes -- diapers being a large traffic generator and wipes being very profitable -- next to each other. That way, you'll have a feeding/caring section and a changing section.

Give opportunities for customers to trade up and extend sales. Sell care items, diapers and HBC -- and not just food. Take advantage of the opportunities to sell toddler products and premium products to keep consumers in-store longer, making more money and satisfying consumer needs.

Organize foods by brand. Have a separate toddler section that showcases a depth of assortment in terms of meals, bakery, etc.

Gerber found that by doing its Baby Builders program, in-store purchases by new mothers increase by more than 30% in the 52 weeks after giving birth.