First-time parents make terrific prospects (875 words)
By Donna Loyle
Each year, 4 million new babies are born in the United States—40 percent to first-time parents. And new parents have a need to buy, well, just about everything for their infants.
A new mother is, in essence, a new consumer, says Steve Kantor, publisher of New Parent magazine. "Having a baby is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, lifestage event. As such, new mothers are open to new products that can enhance their lives and their babies' lives."
As in any primary life change, new parents are in a prime buying mode. In addition to the predictable products—baby apparel, toys, diapers, formula, baby food, children's furniture, etc.—this important demographic also responds to offers for:
•financial products and services;
• books and magazine subscriptions;
• cameras and photo services;
• fund-raising offers (particularly for humanitarian causes); and
• cleaning products.
The latter, in particular, highlights an interesting aspect of this market, says Molly Ingram, vice president and general manager of the Consumer Network division of Bounty SCA Worldwide. "New moms re-evaluate their daily patterns, especially their cleaning patterns. They see their new babies and toddlers crawling around on the floors, for example, and they want those surfaces to be as clean and germ-free as possible. Anti-bacterial cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaners, for example, are big sellers to this demographic."
Nancy O'Reilly, vice president of new business development for Mal Dunn Associates, agrees that first-time parents buy much. "They especially like educational products because they have so many questions about healthcare and baby development," she says.
When They Buy
Marketers experienced in targeting new parents note that women in their first and second trimesters are in the research stage. They're reading content about pregnancy and their baby's health and development.
They start to buy, however, in the third trimester, says Lara Hoyem, a spokesperson for BabyCenter.com, a Web site with about 2 million registered members, mostly prenatal women and parents of newborns and toddlers. (Previously owned by eToys, the comprehensive site recently was bought by Johnson & Johnson.)
BabyCenter acquires—usually through online advertising—members who are in their first trimester of pregnancy, says Hoyem. The site offers customized educational content, bulletin boards and e-mailed newsletters—all in an effort to hold those members until their third trimesters when they're ready to start buying.
How They Buy
Direct mail remains the primary vehicle for reaching new parents, says Ray Schneeberger, senior vice president for list management, List Services Corp. Space ads in targeted publications and online marketing, especially for today's younger new parents, he says, seem to work well, too.
Debra Goldstein, divisional manager of LH Management Division of Leon Henry Inc., says alternative media, such as package inserts, catalog blow-ins, statement stuffers and ride-alongs, also attract new parents. Other marketers cite coupons and product samples as good promotional methods to test.
One trend to watch is prospecting to working and college-educated mothers. A learned demographic, say experts, may find education-oriented marketing messages particularly appealing. Indeed, Hoyem notes, promotions wrapped around informative content seem to attract today's new parents to the BabyCenter.com site. She offers an example from BabyCenter.com: A company that markets baby shoes sponsored a feature article on how to help toddlers learn to walk. Two pages of the site were devoted to content; the third page to the sponsor's promotional message.
New parents, Kantor says, tend not to see ads as traditional ads, but as information sources. "And they're spending this time picking their new favorite brands," he says.
• New Baby Database: Tap into this list of 3.5 million families with newborns, and 1 million expectant parents. The list, compiled from 3,200 sources, targets two-career families with large disposable incomes. Price: $100/M prenatal; $80/M postnatal. Contact: Dunhill Int'l List Co., (800) 386-4455.
n Parents magazine has 1.4 million subscribers; 94 percent of readers are in the 18-to-49 age range. Price: $85/M. Also available is a list of the nearly 650,000 subscribers to Child magazine. Price: $90/M. Contact for both lists: List Services Corp., (203) 791-4148.
• New Parent, a quarterly magazine, is the official publication of the International Child Education Association. More than 82 percent of the 35,000 readers are first-time parents. Price: $110/M. Contact: Mal Dunn Associates, (845) 278-1331. The magazine also takes space ads, and sometimes polybags ride-alongs with the magazine. Contact: Impact Media Communications, (914) 328-3600.
• Kid's Stuff Catalog inserts and blow-in cards are ideal for marketers of children's apparel, gifts, financial products and publishers. List is 85-percent female. Contact: Leon Henry Inc., (914) 723-3176.
• Bounty SCA Worldwide compiles Gift Packs of coupons, samples, premiums, etc., for products and services. The packs are distributed to pregnant patients and new parents through OB/GYN offices, hospitals and clinics. Contact: (212) 683-8533.
• BabyCenter.com, a Web site for prenatal women and new parents, has 2 million members. Marketers can sponsor parts of the site's content. Contact: Deb Mignucci, VP of advertising, (203) 341-5522.
• CoolSavings.com offers its 12 million members savings on goods and services. CoolParenting, a joint venture with Time Inc., enables marketers to offer product discounts, samples, and content for new parents and children. Contact: (312) 224-5000.
New parents are like new consumers: They need and buy almost everything, say experts. Several parenting publications are available to help you target your offers.