Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Designer Baby Booty


I hope everyone had a great holiday!  Mine was filled with parties, BBQs, friends from out of town, hot/humid weather and the requisite overeating...  Just as July 4 should be!

Right before the holiday, my friend A.M. (Bonjour!) sent me a short article to share on the 678 Partners Facebook page as she knows I have affection for the unusual.  And this article was about Cynthia Rowley designer Pampers.  No need to adjust your monitors, rub your eyes or check the lighting, my friends.  It's true that Cynthia Rowley, the American designer, was asked by P&G to design high end Pampers.  And design she did.  In all, there are 11 patterns that will be sold in Target stores starting this month.  There's no long term commitment but if P&G is happy with its performance, it's conceivable the line will expand.

And, I'm sure many of you have heard of or even seen the Huggie's denim style diapers.  Below is the commercial which has both amused some and turned off others.  Full disclosure: it gives me the giggles.

You know what I find interesting about the Cynthia Rowley Pampers?  Aside from the fact they had a serious conversation with her about this, that is?  The suggested price of these diapers is $15.99 which is $6 higher than the plain variety.  So, for 60% more, your baby can relieve him or herself in style.  I don't know how that's a good fit with the realities of today's consumer.  The Huggie's suggested price for a pack of 29 is $13.49 and is priced higher than the plan variety.  To be clear: I'm all for baby fashion and nothing is more hilarious or more fun than shopping for baby clothes, etc., so I don't judge dressing babies to maximize their natural cuteness. 

If you've picked up any sort of newspaper, you will have read stories about how private label (also called private brand or store brand) is taking the country by storm and how consumer mindsets are shifting towards value for money type of purchases.  Also, we've seen multiple articles and analyses about the seismic shift in purchase behavior of private label not only because of the unprecedented economic environment but that also, frankly, private label product quality has improved dramatically.  Focus Group of One: I used to be squeamish about buying private label but now, I give it nary a thought.  A peek at my grocery shopping cart will show a large percentage of private label canned goods, pasta, storage bags, etc.

Some data just published from Private Label Manufacturer's Association (PLMA) reinforces this.  Sales of private brand products increased by 1.8B units and national brand units decreased by 2.1B.  In grocery, private brands were 23.7% of unit share and 18.7% of dollar market share.  A recent BrandSpark study shows us that 59% of Americans think that private label products are good as brand name products, 66% of consumers (this is an international study) believe that private label brands are usually extremely good value for money and that 56% of Americans have purchased more private label products in the past 12 months.  

You could extrapolate these points to say that consumers will feel less risk in expanding their private label purchases into new categories.  After all, if you buy private label chickpeas and are consistently satisfied, you may start buying private label cereal, for example.  And many stores believe that.  Rite Aid just announced a whole new private brand line and Walgreen's attributes a portion of its latest positive results to its private label offerings.  It's safe to say that private label is here to stay and it's safe to say that the private label/value for money mindset is ingrained into the consumer.  

So let's talk about diapers again.  More specifically, let's talk about diapers that are 60% more expensive than its plainer branded cousin let alone way more expensive than its private label counterpart.  You could argue that these designer diapers are for the affluent whose wallets aren't squeezed like the rest of us.  True.  But then these would be in better packaging and sold at Bloomingdale's not Target.

So why does it seem like P&G is not in touch with what's going on in the consumer landscape?  After the novelty fades, how many newly savvy and savvier shoppers will want 60% more expensive diapers?  What's your angle?  Let me know!


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


  1. I think you're dead on here. If they were aiming at wealthy consumers, they would have sold through a higher-end outlet. I have diapered my fair share of adorable tushes and am all for adorable clothes, but I wouldn't dream of buying these. Parents want absorbent, comfortable diapers that are affordable. And umm, I'm not a big fan of kids who run around in diapers without pants, shorts, dresses, something, covering them, so it's a non starter for me--the only folks who would appreciate the designer diapers are bleary eyed parents and perhaps a very discerning toddler (but I think they'd prefer Elmo to Rowley).

  2. Parissa, I think you're missing a key differentiator between Bloomingdale's and Target; the mass market. If every baby's family fills their Target cart with one pack of designer dipeys, then I suspect that the Pampers product management team will be very satisfied with their success. I'm speaking from personal experience here; my wife purchased a pack of the pricey demin diapers from Huggies, "to see how he'd look in them."

  3. @Katie thanks for the comments!

    @Publius43 I can appreciate that point and thanks for sharing it! :). I think the entire basic premise is intact: that the country is in a largely value for money and private label mindset while P&G is going in a different direction. The novelty will fade and people will realize diapers are diapers much like black beans are black beans.

  4. This is a cute commercial but I wouldn't buy the actual product. :/

  5. I hear Armani is doing a line of Depends.