A Look at the UK Market

Baby Monitors: A Step Back in Technology

As the industry prepares to gather in Cologne for Kind + Jugend, GfK look into this sector.

For the first half of 2019, consumer confidence within the UK is starting to look a bit sunnier even though in reality it remains negative (-10%). The government is forecasting an economy showing modest growth with inflation under control, unemployment at a multi decade low and the employment rate at a record high.

For this potential scenario to become a reality , consumers will need to be convinced in heart, head and wallet that Brexit murkiness is finally over. Unfortunately, this remains unlikely with the potentially dark clouds on the horizon representing the next EU deadline date of 31 October.

The total durables market reported upon by GfK only showed a moderate growth (+1%) year-on-year. Key areas struggle to have a consistent growth as consumers’ footfall is lower and physical stores continue to suffer from increasing online competition.

Over the last year, the babycare market has recorded a -5.5% decline in value and a -2% drop in volume sales. With the birth rate in the country hitting the lowest level in the last 10 years, it is not entirely surprising that we are reporting a such negative market context .

Highchairs and baby monitors have been the worst performing categories, with a double digit negative trend year-on-year, both in value and volume.

The baby monitors market has declined for the second year in a row and this downward trend has continued to show negative results across each of the last 12 consecutive months and some of the major brands are seeing steep drops in sales .

In the baby monitor category, even looking at the sector from different angles, there are no positive scenarios. Models with an observation camera were down 8%, while those without a camera showed a loss of over 20% year-on-year.

Another category segment which is suffering is the sensor monitors (models with a sensor pad which is usually placed underneath the baby's mattress). This category saw sales plummet by over 30% in value and close to 40% in volume.

It's notable to see how, in the last year, even sales of the most recent smart baby monitor models (with a wireless connection) was significantly down by 25% year-on-year. The market for smart baby monitors did show some growth across 2016 and 2017 with new model launches entering the market at a rapid rate but these levels have now fallen back again.

This dynamic could also be seen as a warning message for both brands and retailers saying how parents might not fully trust the more high tech features of these products . The lower sales could be in response to the recent events which have shown that they could be more vulnerable to network attacks. On top of that common the average price of £125 (twice the overall baby monitor category average) could very well be a major barrier for shoppers.

We are grateful to GfK for this research.