I was talking with a baby gear company executive last week, and when she offhandedly used the term "first-time expectants," I stopped to quiz her about it. It's pretty obvious what and why the concept exists--if I were selling piles of baby gear, I'd have a term for my most unprepared, inexperienced, impressionable, wallet-emptying target customer, too. But for all my fascination with the Baby Industrial Complex and my business school love of buzzwords, I'd never heard it before.
"First-time expectants" doesn't appear too often online, but at least someone else at a baby company used it the same way, which makes me think it's common industry language. In an interview last spring with a "moms are so hip" site, The Family Groove, Graco's VP of Marketing Kim Lefko referred to two groups the company observes and talks to: "experienced parents and first-time expectants."
Unfortunately, just about the only thing Graco talks to them about is "style." Maybe it's the Groove interviewer's setup, but after getting the obligatory namechecks for "safety and quality" out of the way, the entire product conversation revolves around "style" and "fashion," where new products boil down to annual changes in "prints, patterns and colors" influenced by something called a "Moms Night of Fashion."
Where are dads in all this, you might [and TFG did] ask?
We have found that moms play a primary role in the decision making process when it comes to baby gear. As I mentioned, more and more moms want products that are not only going to keep their baby safe, but fit their lifestyle and fashion tastes. We watch soon-to-be dads at baby fairs and at expectant parent product seminars and it’s obvious that they trust and respect their wives’ opinions and selections. Dads get more involved in the stroller and car seat purchases, as well as in technical equipment such as baby monitors.Which all sounds exactly like 2003 when we were First-Time Expectants. If the only decision put forward is picking the right fabric patterns that "fit their lifestyle and fashion tastes," is it any wonder that guys will check out? Likewise, an emphasis on fashion and trendiness is a way to keep the shopping urge alive with "experienced parents" who presumably now know how much gear they really didn't need the first time around, but who are still supposed to be worried that their baby gear is now out-of-fashion.
When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and when you're a dad trying to deal with the entrenched market mentality of the baby industry, you're just as likely to get screwed.
oy: WHAT A MOM WANTS [thefamilygroove.com]