182-year-old P&G enters Big Data with Start-Up Pampers and Smart Diapers
P&G creates Start-Up Pampers and takes to the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show with the Lumi care connected system. A bundle of smart diapers, baby monitors, and a consumer facing app aims to combine parental insight with real time activity tracking to help first time parents ascend the steep learning curve that comes with caring for a new born baby and feeling confident while doing so.
Digital Transformation is a lot to ask for Procter and Gamble, a 182-year-old consumer goods giant that has relied on a centuries old playbook of product development, billion-dollar brand-building and traditional TV advertising. This year, they marked a big start into the world of analytics and big data by taking the stage at the January 2020 Consumer Electronics Show with Lumi by Pampers.
P&G’s largest brand, Pampers, does over $8B in global annual sales. However, recent trends show growth flattening, with global diaper sales down -9% in volume as the birth rate in the US continues to fall. However sales are up 4% in value as brands try to capture the needs of millennials that are waiting longer to have children, having less children, but spending much more per child and becoming more involved parents – for example, baby monitor sales are up by 18%.
In an attempt to revolutionize not only baby care but how consumer goods giants innovate, the Start-up Pampers team was created, in partnership with Verily, Google’s health subsidiary, and Logitech, a leader in consumer electronics. At CES 2020, Start-Up Pampers unveiled Lumi, an all-in-one connected care system. The bundle consists of a Logitech smart 1080p HD video monitor, 2 activity sensors that can be connected to specialized diapers with Velcro patches for the sensors, and consumer mobile application built for parents.
Despite its leap forward into integrated baby care via technology, Pampers started its product development with its centuries-old focus on the voice of the consumer through in-home interviews and focus group discussions. Omar Sher, head of Start-Up Pampers, mentions that “We focused on solving real problems parents have. Parenting is the most important job you’ve never done, and it was clear there was an opportunity to enable parents to better anticipate their baby’s needs, establish a routine, and feel confident about their innate ability to care for their baby. We all want to be able to trust that “gut feeling,” but that’s not always easy when your baby is unpredictable, a parent is overwhelmed, and a quick Google search provides results that aren’t tailored to the specific needs of a specific, unique child.”
Lumi is built to help gather and interpret baby care information to solve parents’ key tension. Here’s how it works – a parent turns on a sensor and attaches it to the smart diaper patch. The sensor automatically tracks how quickly a diaper is filled and needs replacing, as well as the baby’s motion sleep patterns, communicating all of this to the mobile app. The video monitor checks the temperature and humidity of the baby’s room and allows a parent to check in their child from anywhere. The app consolidates all of this information into digestible information for parents on when to change diapers and how well a baby is sleeping. Additionally, parents can input other information like feeding times or key milestones to plot out the baby’s development and compare these against pediatricians’ benchmarks.
Lumi’s main value proposition is not big data, video monitoring, or automated tracking, but the combination of real time tracking data and parents’ intuition to provide better baby care. Dr. Mega of Verily mentions that “Theidea of surfacing timely, relevant and helpful insights is core to what we do at Verily.” The integrated system combines parent provided data together with the sensor and monitors’ observation to generate insights for parents to act upon. The consolidated information and insights aim to help overcome the practical, mental, and emotional challenges for first time parents that are starting up a steep learning curve.
While the proposition seems compelling for millennial, data-driven parents looking to ensure they’re doing the right thing for their babies, Lumi understandably creates consumer apprehension especially around data privacy. Jeffrey Cester, the executive director at the Center for Digital Democracy, warns that “Parents may find this new system convenient, but not [recognize] the serious risks to their privacy.” Start-up Pampers says that individual data will be for parents’ eyes only, but will continue to aggregate data to improve the product and potential explore new innovations that they can provide to parents.
Student comments on 182-year-old P&G enters Big Data with Start-Up Pampers and Smart Diapers
Thanks for such interesting observations! you are right it’s not so easy for an incumbent to make drastic digital transformation after 182 years. Data privacy issue aside, what I’m more curious to learn is whether they can continue to dominate the traditional pampers market they are in. There have been some new players that use non-chemicals & biodegradable materials which is more popular among millennial parents as it won’t cause rashes on baby’s skins, doesn’t leak, and friendly for the environment. The diaper user experience itself would be the foundation for anything technological to provide more value add, so if the baby is not comfortable in the diapers, adding sensors or monitors wouldn’t help at all. But I agree, such diaper+sensor+monitor bundle offering is very appealing for younger parents who are more tech-savvy, for now.
Thanks for this amazing article! In addition to the issues around privacy etc. especially that of infants, I wonder what the impact of this constant stream of information on new parents might be, especially younger parents. With every movement and slight abnormal behavior recorded, it might create unnecessary anxiety in parents! To that end, I wonder if the app and service is intelligent enough to make a judgment about what is worth recording and notifying – but this might be a whole other category of products than a smart diaper!
Thanks for sharing! It definitely seem concerning for new parents that P&G would have access to their baby’s data and information. I wonder if P&G could try to help parents feel more comfortable by avoiding a physical sensor and instead developing an app that parents could use to manage baby care. This may decrease the discomfort with physically monitoring a baby with technology and may change the parent’s mindset to be focused on simply reminding themselves to do something rather than tracking their baby’s data.