It is no doubt that operations have changed across all industries because of the disruptions the pandemic has caused. Some industries found it hard to cope. Some only experienced small bumps in their operations but continued to thrive after that. What about the parenting industry? What’s in the future of the parenting industry?
Most companies and brands involved in the parenting industry are part of the entities that continued to thrive. Global problems such as the rapid decline in fertility rates and the ongoing pandemic continue to challenge the industry. However, the world is currently still abundant with children. Because of this, the demand for products that target young families remains high.
It’s safe to say that this trillion-dollar industry is not about to slow down anytime soon. At least, not in the next few decades.
Did COVID-19 motivate permanent changes in the industry?
But, let’s forget about the past and the present for now. What about the future? What do our current findings say about the future of the parenting industry?
Just like every other industry, COVID has obviously affected ours. But do we know how big the effects of it are going to be? Are there long-lasting effects? And, is COVID the only thing that has driven these future demands, changes, and developments?
The answer is, COVID did motivate changes in the industry and demands from the market. However, the changes it has caused are not as significant for the parenting industry as it is for other industries.
The industry has been anticipating big changes in the future already even before the pandemic happened. After more than a year, it’s evident that the ongoing pandemic isn’t large enough to disrupt most of them. Although, it did magnify the need for innovative changes. For example, it has urged “Babytech” or “Famtech” to expand further and at a much faster pace.
The main motivator of future developments in the parenting industry: Gen Z and Millennial parents
A study by Demographic Intelligence in the United States found that nearly 100% of babies are now coming from Gen Z and Millennial parents. It’s no doubt that the numbers for other countries are close to these findings as older generations simply do not have the ability to give birth anymore without the help of expensive and extensive solutions.
Because of this, Gen Z and Millennial parents are now the main motivators of future developments in the parenting industry. Pandemic or not, the future of the parenting industry is tech. Simply because these generations are more tech-savvy than the previous ones. It is only fitting that they would want products that can match their current lifestyles.
However, like mentioned earlier, the pandemic did accelerate the need for such innovations and developments.
This is also why “Babytech” is now evolving into “Famtech”. Families as a whole have become the main target of future tech-powered products and services instead of only babies.
This is due to the fact that parents now and in the future are more likely to adopt newer innovations. According to a study by Segmanta in 2020, Gen Z and Millennial parents are up to 3x more likely to buy modern products such as smart toys, smart diapers, and smart breastfeeding devices.
Clearly, the industry now has more opportunities to develop creative products that benefit young families.
Aside from tech, younger generations are also vastly different from older generations in terms of social, political, and self-awareness. These factors will drive future demands in the industry as well, but, we’ll be discussing those in a separate section.
How families will be spending their money on products in the future
Younger generation families are more likely to support tech-powered products. But, how much are they willing to spend on these innovations?
Professionals describe the parenting market as “lucrative” for a reason. Parents are always looking to improve their lives and the lives of their children. They want them happy, healthy, and safe at all times. This goal drives their willingness to spend as much as they can to achieve this.
For example, in countries like the Philippines, many parents decide to enrol their children in private schools despite low income. All in hopes of giving their children better quality education and opportunities. Back in 2010, the country’s largest association of private schools tried to oppose promissory notes by implementing a “no permit, no exam” policy because of this very reason. (The government was against this, but many private schools did not stop implementing the policy).
“Great! It’s okay to make more expensive products then?”
Things might be a little different if we are talking about non-necessities. According to Jill Gilbert, an experienced professional in the Babytech/Famtech space, parents are willing to spend a lot on things that are guaranteed to be good. However, products in affordable ranges are still better selling at the moment.
But, who knows? Situations might change very fast. Not so long ago the only phones that cost you more than $2,000 were luxury and niche. If you had a Vertu phone, you were considered crazy for spending that much on a small device. Now, iPhones costs are just as crazy! Yet, everyone is willing to sell their kidneys just to buy the latest model.
Words to remember: people are willing to spend a lot on things that are guaranteed to be good.
This exact reason is why products like baby monitors continue to sell well, while others are still behind despite promising benefits. Baby monitors have been around for years already, hence, parents already know that they are highly useful.
Demand for healthy, organic products will grow
But wait! Things are different for necessities like baby food. Parents might be willing to spend more in that area especially if it benefits the health of their babies. The demand for organic and plant-based baby food, which are generally more expensive than their non-organic counterparts, will continue to grow rapidly in the next coming years.
The global product and technology development head of Nestlé, Thomas Hauser, has even stated that plant-based products will be an important category market for them due to growth seen in the US, Western Europe, and ASEAN countries.
While slightly unrelated, even fur parents are demanding healthy products for their pets now and more so in the future!
How the increased awareness of younger generation parents will affect the future of the parenting industry
In the United Kingdom, it was discovered that over 95% of yoghurts marketed for children have highly unhealthy sugar levels. One of these yoghurts even had five-and-a-half teaspoons of sugar per pot. That’s a lot of sugar. Because of this, they have banned child-friendly packaging for yoghurt products that have medium to high sugar content.
Obviously, parents today are much more health-conscious and are becoming more aware of the ingredients that are being fed to their children. However, health is not the only reason why organic baby products are growing in demand.
Sustainable and Transparent Brands
Today’s parents are younger and carry completely different mindsets from parents from the past. Nowadays, not only parents, but everyone is more concerned about living sustainable lifestyles. Meaning, they want products that are not only natural but are also coming from brands that are ethical.
Back in 2015, GFK conducted a survey and discovered that many consumers are expecting brands to become more environmentally responsible. And true enough, a more recent study by ResearchandMarkets has shown that 47% of global consumers now seek organic food and drinks because of environmental concerns.
But, the responsibility expected from brands doesn’t stop there. A joint study by Markstein and Certus Insights show that consumers are also expecting them to be involving themselves in social issues.
However, if brands are going to engage in these issues in the future, they’re going to have to be genuine and transparent. Why?
Consumers are way smarter now as they know which companies are faking social responsibility for commercial reasons and which companies are not. In a study by Kantar, it was revealed that 68% of consumers believe brands engage with social issues for commercial reasons, while 66% stopped buying products that have negative impacts on the environment and in society.
It’s never a good look on any brand if your consumers think that you are fake. Sadly, many brands are still trying to deceive consumers.
In an episode of Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj, “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion” he exposed several fast-fashion brands that are “Greenwashing” consumers. If you don’t know what Greenwashing is, it’s basically making people believe that they are more environmentally responsible than they really are.
By the way, Hasan Minhaj is a millennial parent. These are the type of parents (especially Gen Z!) that brands are up against in the future. They expect brands to be 100% honest and if not, they’re not afraid to hold these brands accountable especially with the power social media has these days.
Using Social Insights to Understand Consumers
Since parents are different now and everything is so fast-paced in today’s world, it’s hard to truly know what they’re really going to want in the future. New information are constantly being presented to us and these information tend to change the way we think sometimes.
In order to stay relevant, social insights and listening are going to play a vital role in the next coming years. Danone, one of the leading companies in the industry, stays on top of what consumers want through social media and social insights. This has enabled the brand to “truly listen” to their consumers and know the things that they want and expect in a much realistic view.
Other companies in the industry have also been doing this and if yours isn’t on this track yet, it’s time to catch up.
Expected Growth in Other Markets
Aside from the markets mentioned above, there are several other markets in the parenting industry that are expected to grow in the next coming years.
Parenting Apps & Software
We have become dependent on mobile gadgets for most of our daily activities, but honestly, why not? It makes life convenient, more productive, and easier.
Apps and software play an important role in making mobile gadgets useful for us. In the next couple of years, parents are going to be demanding apps and software that can make parenting much easier, too. The global parenting app market is expected to continue growing in the coming years.
Because of the most likely permanent increase in gadget usage by children caused by the pandemic, Parenting Control Software has become one of the most demanded software by parents and this market will see significant growth from 2021-2030, according to a report by Absolute Market Insights.
Baby Personal Care Market
Because of parents’ desire to pamper their children, the baby personal care market is also among the markets that are expected to see significant growth.
By 2027, professionals are expecting this market to grow up to 9.31 billion USD. Products in these markets involve baby cosmetics, toiletries, safety & entertainment accessories, baby home decor, and even stationery kits.
One big reason for the declining fertility rates is because parents are too busy to take care of more children. This emphasizes the need for convenient parenting products. Products that can help make the lives of parents easier and of children better.
Because of this, healthy, convenient food products that aim to target children are expected to grow in market size. However, unlike before, they’re not only going to be ready-to-eat pureed food for babies. Convenient but healthy food items for toddlers are now popping up in many places and are going to be a trend in the next coming years as well.
And in line with convenience, because we now know that mothers, who are the biggest spenders and decision-makers of the family, are shopping online, it is also not surprising that even after the pandemic, they will no longer be shopping for school supplies physically. At least, not as much.