At a time in their lives when many women are searching for answers, Target Corp. is providing them.
In April, the Minneapolis-based retailer rolled out pre-/post-natal sections to 1,000 doors that are scheduled to expand throughout the chain to nearly 1,800 locations next year. The sections contain personal care as well as nutrition and health products from eight brands — Zoe Organics, The Honest Co., Motherlove, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Three Lollies, Healthy Mama, Psi Bands and Sea-Band Mama — positioned as natural, organic and better-for-you.
“We know that [expectant] moms are incorporating wellness into their daily lives and are especially thoughtful about what they put in their bodies while they are pregnant and nursing,” said Christina Hennington, senior vice president of health and beauty at Target. “Our guests are looking for guidance to navigate the spectrum of guidelines about what is safe during and post pregnancy. This new area will provide a variety of solutions.”
Target scoured blogs, message boards and pregnancy Web sites to identify the brands it invited to join the new area. While a few of them — Honest and Earth Mama Angel Baby, for example — had been available in Target prior to it, others such as Motherlove and Zoe Organics were previously sold primarily in natural foods grocers or upscale specialty stores. “Most of the brands are exclusive to Target at mass,” said Hennington. “It was important to Target to include the brands that our guests are looking for — those products that moms recommend to each other.”
For natural maternity personal care, health and nutrition brands with limited mass-market exposure in the past, Target’s embrace of the segment demonstrates its mainstream appeal. “When we started this in 2002, we were pioneers, and we were perceived as Birkenstock-y and granola-y and, now, awareness is driving major retailers like Target to be responsive to what women are wanting,” said Melinda Olson, founder of Earth Mama Angel Baby. Among the brand’s products in the maternity sets are Mama Bottom Balm, Natural Nipple Butter and New Mama Bottom Spray.
The pre-/post-natal sections are part of Target’s initiative to dive deeper into wellness offerings. Last year, the company introduced Made to Matter, a collection of 16 natural, organic and sustainable brands that increased this year to 31 brands such as Burt’s Bees, Paddy’s Bathroom, One Love Organics, Pacifica, SheaMoisture and Yes To. Target has projected sales of Made to Matter products will reach $1 billion in 2015. “We know our guests are looking for better-for-you and better-for-the-world products, and our research shows that they seek authenticity and transparency from the brands they buy. Made to Matter has proven to be incredibly successful,” said Kathee Tesija, Target’s chief merchandising and supply chain officer, when announcing Made to Matter’s enlargement.
Christopher Gavigan, cofounder and chief product officer at Honest, believes extending the wellness focus to moms-to-be is a smart strategy for Target. “Certainly as a first-time parent, it is a moment when you form new habits. It is a behavioral change pivot point. As a retailer, Target is excited about it because it really allows them to take a specific point of view and one where there is a ton of emotion. Emotion helps drive affinity, loyalty and connectivity with the brand,” he said. “If you are getting your needs solved and someone is meeting you at the emotional level you are at, it builds great affinity and loyalty. Target understands that and as a brand we understand that.”
Heather Hamilton, founder of Zoe Organics, agreed, adding, “Every celebrity seems to be pregnant. I think pregnancy and motherhood has been in the spotlight so much more lately and, in general, it was a really good move for Target to do something like this because there is really no big-box retailer similar to them that has really paid a lot of attention to taking care of mom, especially in this stage. This stage is when so many women have that a-ha moment where they realize that everything they are using is potentially affecting the baby, and they scrutinize everything that goes in and on their bodies, and they are demanding better products.” Target carries Zoe Organics’ Belly Butter, Belly Oil, Breathe Balm, Cream, Everything Balm, Insect Repellent and Refresh Oil in the pre-/post-natal sets.
The sets are located within Target’s women’s health aisle. Hennington explained, “This area of the store offers solutions for all stages of a woman’s life — from puberty, family planning to menopause. Our guest may already be in this aisle when she is trying to conceive; putting this new collection here is a great way to alert her to the new segment of products available for her once she gets pregnant.” The location makes sense to Silencia Cox, vice president at Motherlove, which sells Nipple Cream, Diaper Rash & Thrush and Sitz Bath Spray at Target. “It is near the pregnancy tests and also near the pharmacy,” she said. “With the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are mandated to provide breast pumps to nursing mothers and, in order to do that, you have to have a prescription for a breast pump. If you are going to pick up your breast pump, you walk by this section.”
Hamilton understands why the location was chosen, but noted it is not without difficulties. She remarked some customers assume baby sections encompass pre-/post-natal products. “I don’t think they [Target] have a lot of extra room in that section,” said Hamilton, who continued, “It is kind of a challenge, but I’m not sure if there is a better place for it than in women’s health.” Zoe Organics has posted a video on Instagram to inform its customers where to find its products inside Target stores.
Target sought to keep products in the maternity wellness area priced under $20. Hamilton considers that price ceiling a good decision. “Especially if you went in and you were wanting to try a new brand and the prices are $20 or below, I think it is a lot easier to try something new than if you were going to be putting down $34,” she reasoned. Even if products in the area are priced slightly above conventional products, Cox said, “Nothing is astronomically priced, so it fits within the Target model. Most people that are committed to organic or natural are going to have no problem spending that extra $2.”
The success of the pre-/post-natal sections will likely depend less on the price of the products within them and more on educating consumers about them. Cox said, “We are expecting slow movement in the beginning as we generate information that this set now exists and share that with customers and collaborate with other companies in the set to let people be aware that these type of products are in Target.”
Ultimately, long-term success for Target could be determined by shifting moms-to-be to purchasing baby and family products at its stores as their kids age. Pre-/post-natal product suppliers like Honest, which has merchandise in several sections throughout Target, can assist in facilitating that transition for the retailer. Hennington said, “Target is laser-focused on understanding the needs of our guests throughout the many stages of family life. From pre- and post-natal care for moms, and everything baby needs, to stylish wardrobe must-haves and the hottest toys for growing kids, we are committed to ensuring we have the right assortment of product to fulfill their needs throughout the journey.”