Within the past few weeks, my wife and I welcomed our first child, a beautiful baby boy. And like just about every new parent, we’re thrilled, enamored, tired and a bit scared and confused. And boy do the baby marketers know this. (In a clear case of Karma, my years spent marketing products to moms have come back to haunt me). As we do our best to welcome and care for this precious little guy, the last 9 months have given me a unique perspective on the big business that is baby marketing.
With the recent proliferation of digital media, more than ever, today’s generation of parent’s have a wealth of parenting information at their fingertips. And with that a wealth of marketers looking to get their message to these impressionable – and even desperate – parents.
Marketers aren’t afraid to tap into parents insecurities, fears and feelings of inadequacy. New parents are suddenly responsible for the health, safety and development of a tiny, helpless human being. And from this insight, was born a billion dollar industry.
Peruse any of the “must-have” checklists eagerly studied by first time parents and you’ll see what I mean. It makes me wonder how my generation survived beyond our first year? Clever marketers have taken each part of a parent and baby’s day and made it as safe, comfortable, cute – and expensive – as possible. Bathing, feeding, nursing, sleeping, dressing, transport, soothing – there are an explosion of products for each. We have stroller systems that have the all of the features of a sub-compact car – and a price to match. No wonder the average square footage of the average American home has more than doubled in the last 30 years – we needed somewhere to put all of this baby gear!
I’ve been ranting about this since we got our first piece of direct mail from baby marketers just hours after conception (how did they know before we did?). But you know what? After 6 weeks of caring for our little guy, I’ll eat a little crow. At this point, any product that saves us a little time or soothes him when he’s fussy I’ll gratefully accept. Perhaps it’s like any modern convenience. So while I still roll my eyes at marketers playing the fear card, I’m thankful my child lives in a time with so many resources to help him grow up safe and happy.