For startup rivals, stealing market share from Gerber has been like taking candy from a baby. And the 89-year-old brand that still leads the baby-food category is tired of being a victim.
So the Nestlé-owned brand is launching an overhaul that includes new packaging, new flavors, personalized parental advice, new marketing campaigns, a new tagline—and even the first update of its iconic logo since 2006.
“It’s been challenging for us as more competitors have come into the market,” Gerber CMO Aileen Stocks told brandchannel. “But our mission and focus remain the same.”
When Nestlé bought Gerber from Novartis in 2007 for $5.5 billion, the baby food brand remained practically unchallenged in the U.S. processed baby food market, which the Michigan-based company essentially had created from scratch.
But since then, the advance of startups such as Plum and Happy Baby, and the rise of Earth’s Best organic baby foods, have helped chop Gerber’s share to about 60 percent.
So Gerber finally planned a comprehensive relaunch. “You don’t stay as a category leader unless you’re continuing to evolve with your consumers,” Stocks told Ad Age. “We know that the needs and priorities of today’s parents have changed.” That includes millennials and also, when it comes to babies, parents in Generation Z that are just now beginning to form families.
Gerber is creating more innovative flavors with a culinary edge, including acai and kale. Now on its packaging, it is highlighting the fact that Gerber fruit and vegetable purees are made from non-GMO ingredients, something that previously was almost hidden on the back. And it’s emphasizing authenticity in sourcing and its relationships with farmers.
Earlier this year, the brand introduced a packaging innovation called its Smart Flow spout that it has brought to the pureed pouch products it introduced a few years ago and that prevents “pouch fail” when toddlers create messes.
All of this falls under the new tagline, “Anything for Baby,” and is the subject of a new ad campaign that broke online this week and is headed for TV later in the month.
Always careful not to alter its iconic baby logo too much, Gerber nonetheless updated its look, in part by going back to its original Gerber baby sketch from 1928. Now the baby’s head pops out of a blue circle. Some things you just don’t mess with.