Retailers are using a variety of unique strategies to build diaper sales.
Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, for example, is encouraging its retail customers to buy diapers on a pallet program, said Tom Rose, the wholesaler's director of category management.
"We have a goal of selling 5% of all our diapers this year on pallet programs," Rose said.
Buying on a pallet program enables retailers to purchase diapers at a lower cost. The retailers, in turn, can then reduce the retail price.
"We are trying to move our retailers into ordering pallets of diapers. This way they can put [the pallet] on a particular end display at the right price, which will show our customers that we can compete in the same arena as the alternative formats," Rose added.
In addition, he said, Fleming's customers will have to reset their sections to accommodate the larger-sized packages.
Besides price, retailers said they will pay attention to promotion, convenience, new introductions and product quality, because these areas will become a part of the entire purchasing process -- from where to shop to which diaper to buy.
Garry Stevens, senior marketing director at Big V ShopRite, Florida, N.Y., said Big V plans to compete better by promoting its store as a full-service supplier of baby needs. "Going to market as a complete supplier of baby needs will help the diaper category," Stevens said.
Stevens is aware of the natural diapers coming into the market, though he was hesitant to say if the new products would uproot the resident competitors.
And though other retailers feel manufacturers have done all they can in terms of new product introductions, Terry Tognietti, co-chief executive officer of the Houston-based Drypers Corp., said more improvements are on the way.
"We're seeing a renewed investment on the part of the manufacturers in product development," he said. "We expect our competitors to continue to improve the product as we're planning to," Tognietti added.
Mark Polsky, senior vice president of Magruder Inc., Rockville, Md., said he plans to turn to manufacturers for help in beating the competition, though he declined to discuss the specifics.
San Antonio-based Handy Andy will look in-store for ways to compete more effectively. Lupe Anguiano, grocery buyer and merchandiser, said he plans to keep up with new items, discontinue the slow movers and maintain a better shelf presentation on his best sellers.
He also foresees his shoppers purchasing more private-label diapers because the quality is comparable and the price is lower than that of the the leading brands. He plans to give the store-brand products better exposure.
Private label is coming into focus at Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass., as well. It is developing a private-label program to compete against its market rivals, said Al Young, category manager.