Huggies’ foray into the “super-premium” diaper market will be accompanied by a highly targeted media plan to reach an affluent audience – a move away from the Kimberly-Clark brand’s typical mass-reach strategy.
The unveiling of Huggies Special Delivery diapers marks the brand’s entry into the growing premium category within the baby sector.
Made with plant-based materials and loaded with the promise of leakage protection and ‘ultimate softness’, the product has been produced with discerning parents in mind – those who “don’t want to make trade-offs or compromises ... who strive for that perfect experience for their babies”, according to Kristine Rhode, the brand director at Huggies North America.
Special Delivery’s price point is consequently higher than other brands in Huggies’ range, retailing at $48.88 for a pack of 144. The design of both the product and the packaging has been tailored to reflect this lux positioning, with the usual bright reds, whites and yellows replaced by blacks, dark grays and soft, monochrome photography reminiscent of a perfume campaign.
“We really wanted this to feel distinct from any product in market today – that's what led us to do packaging very differently,” Rhode told The Drum. “[It’s] meant to look striking on the shelf – and the designs on the diapers are really striking too – so Special Delivery will really feel unique and special for both parents and their babies.”
Huggies has taken a premium approach to Special Delivery’s media plan, too. Rather than buying up hours of network airtime across the US and Canada wholesale, the brand is taking aim at a more affluent customer through addressable TV and what Rhode describes as “premium online video”.
Video spend is heading towards platforms such as Hulu and Roku, while a “highly targeted social launch” will take place primarily via Facebook and Instagram.
Publicis’ Digitas has been rostered specifically to take Ogilvy’s creative idea and turn it into dynamic assets across these channels, while Mindshare is handling the media buy.
Meanwhile, Huggies is developing select online retailer programs and partnering with "high-end, parent-centric" media platforms such as Scary Mommy and The Dad to promote Special Delivery in paid content deals.
Finally, it is working with a swathe of micro-influencers to push the diaper design far and wide on social.
“We really want to reach moms and dads in a way that feels special, so we think about launching this product as an elevated, total experience – whether it's the design of the box, the stylish designs on diapers or reaching moms where they just find their content today,” said Rhode.
The US and Canada launch will see Huggies capitalize on a growing market trend. The global diaper category is expected to witness "rapid" year-on-year growth until 2022, led primarily by rising consumer interest in more expensive products.
Parents around the world are becoming more discerning, Nielsen reported, while falling birth rates in developed markets such as North America mean premiumization and product development strategies will be crucial to preventing Huggies’ bottom line from falling.
In fact, Kimberly-Clark’s 2018 annual report cited "benefits from innovations" as an explanatory factor for the modest rise in sales in its infant and child care category.
The necessity to innovate in the baby sector – made all the more pressing by an influx of premium disruptor brands such as Brandless, The Honest Company and Amazon's Earth + Eden – is one Rhode believes Huggies is geared up to fulfill.
Special Delivery went from research to shelves in a matter of 17 months – a timeframe only made possible, she explained, by the R&D processes installed by Kimberly Clark only a few years ago.
“It was really about getting a dedicated team to focus on it,” she said. “We leveraged our fantastic research and engineering team, coupled with the right brand team members.
“I think that's the real secret of bringing things to life with speed and agility in a different and unique way: we have stand-up, dedicated teams that are small and nimble enough to ... solve real-world problems.”