The power of "mummy bloggers" and the baby fever sparked by Prime Minister and new mother Jacinda Ardern look set to boost a retail trend - subscription box services for parents.

There has been a surge in baby-related subscription delivery services in the past few years, with names like NZ Baby Box, Bubzy Box, BabyStart, The Baby Bag and Nurture Box just some of the offerings.

Perhaps the newest entrant to the market is Future Foody. Gearing up to launch on Monday, Future Foody is a fresh baby-food subscription service for mothers making the transition to feeding their babies on solids.

Future Foody co-founder Annelise Clarke, who started the business with her husband Ryan, says the company is focusing on its weekly delivery plans.

Advertisement

"We're definitely promoting the plans as we see it as a really good way of supporting mums to not have to worry about when is the right time to introduce meat or different ingredients to their baby's diet," says Clarke.

The company's first plan is called 21 Days to Solids, which costs $29 for seven 110g "fresh pots".

A working mother and business owner, Clarke had to re-evaluate her priorities following the birth of daughter Tallulah.

"I was looking for a convenient solution but didn't want to feed her shelf-stable product because, having a food background, I really care about what's in it, and so I ended up getting the chefs at our restaurant to start making me purees and I thought 'gosh, there must be a better solution than this', and other mums I knew were having the same problem."

Clarke says she believes there is "massive" potential in the baby retail market.

"The power of social media is huge so we're hoping that we can provide a good support service online as well as just being able to retail our products," she says.

"This is definitely an extending market because mums are getting busier and busier. There are so many mums that are having to go back to work these days, earlier than they might have had to previously."

The power of mummy bloggers is also influencing the market, Clarke says.

"People are becoming more conscious that there is more information out there than just what you might get given from Plunket."

Clarke says Future Foody will work with social media influencers to make its name known, including with Sharyn Casey, host of Dancing with the Stars.

Retail consultant Chris Wilkinson says subscription boxes are not as popular in New Zealand as they are in the US and Britain.

From next week Future Foody will deliver fresh baby food on a weekly basis. Photo / Supplied
From next week Future Foody will deliver fresh baby food on a weekly basis. Photo / Supplied

"Americans love new concepts, fads, they embrace all of these new things that come through quite quickly," Wilkinson says.

"The New Zealand consumer has a different spirit.

"They are independent by nature and our consumers are quite reasonably connected with retail centres whereas in the States, often retailers are a destination, a purposeful trip", making the convenience of delivery more enticing.

Wilkinson says Kiwis are making more purchases online than ever before.

"We've seen quite big shifts in consumer behaviour in New Zealand and Australia and a lot of this is related to people's lives becoming much busier," he says.

"Things like shaving, the systems overseas where new shavers arrive every month or two months, we're starting to see this type of thing being adopted in New Zealand, and we'll likely see more of this around staple items happening."

Happy NappyZ founder and director Caleb Hall was spurred to start his nappy delivery service when his local nappy store in Tauranga closed down.

"We realised there was a bit of a gap for a subscription service where people can get baby goods to their home on a schedule that suits them," Hall says.

"We know from our own experience [running out of] nappies at different times like in the middle of the night can be a nightmare, so that was our first port of call for starting."

Hall and his wife Sophie launched the business in 2016 following the end of his professional rugby career, importing nappies and selling them as part of a two-weekly or customisable delivery service. It now has 300 regular customers.

A flurry of other baby-related subscription box services that started around the same time that Happy NappyZ launched probably reflected trends seen overseas, Hall says.

"Subscription box services are big overseas. In America and Australia and parts of Asia, already online deliver-to-your-home services are becoming the norm.

"New Zealand, typically it's either ahead of things worldwide or we take a little bit of time to catch up, so I think with these trends happening different New Zealand businesses will continue to see it as an opportunity."

Sophie and Caleb Hall, founders of Happy NappyZ, with sons Joshua and Malachi. Photo / Supplied
Sophie and Caleb Hall, founders of Happy NappyZ, with sons Joshua and Malachi. Photo / Supplied

Hall says he believes New Zealand's baby retail sector will continue to enjoy growth as the population increases.

"My expectations on the research that we've done is that we're going to see more and more online services being made available.

"Parents are spinning a lot of plates and it's very easy to have moments of oversight and even if it's [available] online it's easy to forget to order something," he says.

"Looking at what are the high-demand goods that people are getting through and needing to replace on a regular basis, disposable goods are front and centre.

"The busy lifestyle that the average New Zealander is leading kind of lends itself towards these types of convenient services becoming more and more apparent. In 24 to 36 months we're going to see New Zealand consumers have more and more subscription boxes as part of their daily living."

The infant and children's retail sector in New Zealand has gone from strength to strength, though without a mid-market offering, Wilkinson says.

"If you think about where the middle range was, that was Pumpkin Patch," he says.

"Back when Pumpkin Patch was a very strong operator, we didn't have the likes of Trade Me in a big way and so now we're seeing a lot more people gifting or selling their old clothing, or trading within mothers' groups, so there's this sub-economy that has essentially gazumped that mid-market."

Mothers' groups are incredibly collaborative and so decisions are made en masse.

SHARE THIS QUOTE:

Annabelle McDonald, brand manager of retailer Nature Baby, which has three Auckland stores, says it has seen a spike in growth following the rise of mummy bloggers and influencers online.

"In markets that were less well-known, and especially in Australia, we have seen a real uptake in lots of mummy bloggers and influencers that have made a real difference to our sales in those regions," McDonald says.

"We have found that their authentic sharing of products and them having them within their homes, and telling their followers what it is like and why they love it, is giving us that same sort of word of mouth [marketing] that we traditionally saw back in the early days in New Zealand.

"What we're seeing with mums, that whole market, are digitally aware. They're all incredibly savvy online, they're all networked beyond belief and all talking about where the deals are, the best value is and where the best experiences are.

"Mothers' groups are incredibly collaborative and so decisions are made en masse."

Subscription box e-commerce

A wide variety of subscription boxes have taken off in the US and Britain, from deliveries of cosmetics, to boxes of underwear, to healthy snacks, and some major retailers have hopped on the bandwagon.

US discount department store Walmart has a subscription box called the Walmart Beauty Box, filled with its best-selling makeup and beauty products.

Vegan cosmetics retailer Lush also has a subscription box in Britain and the US, offering a selection of its bath bombs. Makeup and skincare company Sephora has also got into subscription boxes.

A report from consulting firm McKinsey & Co found the subscription e-commerce market in the US has grown by more than 100 per cent a year over the past five years.

Some 15 per cent of US online shoppers are now signed up for at least one subscription service.

Food delivery services such as My Food Bag and Bargain Box are firm staples in Kiwi homes, and it may not be long until boxes of other products are hitting our doorsteps.