Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Safety First: Marketing To Moms

by Mark Vance, chief marketing officer, Rainsoft Water Treatment Systems

For veterans in the juvenile market, the concept of mom-centric marketing is nothing new. Moms are a key demographic in marketing plans for products from diapers and juice boxes to vacuum cleaners and laundry detergent. But now, there’s an added twist – after digging deeper into the mind of the mom to determine what really drives her purchase decisions, researchers are finding that it all boils down to moms’ basic drive to keep their families safe from harm.

More than anything, moms want to have more control over their home environments. There’s always something to worry about on the outside, from swine flu, to sex and violence on TV, or the economy. Mothers know they can’t control what goes on outside the home, but they take every possible step to make sure their families’ immediate environments are safe and secure.

I call this psychographic profile the “Protector Mom.”

Some of her traits:
- Young children (ages 0-7) in the home
- Concerned about keeping a clean, comfortable, germ-free home, but dislike housework
- Want to protect their families from harm both in and outside the home
- Busy schedules, looking for convenience and stress-free solutions
- Search for information about potential purchases online

Companies like Dodge, General Motors, Evenflo and Johnson & Johnson all have recently embarked upon marketing campaigns designed to woo moms who want to protect their families from harm both in and outside the home.

What does this mean for the juvenile market?

There’s more to it than just complying with increasingly stringent laws and regulations. This is great, but there’s also a market out there for products that actively help moms protect their families – e.g. child GPS tracking devices. You also have products that allow parents to filter what comes into their homes – like the V-Chip, which allows parents to block certain content from cable TV, or the product my company sells, which filters the water that families use to eat, drink and bathe.

Think about ways you can reach out to the Protector Mom.

Maybe it’s modifying your existing product to incorporate a helpful safety feature.

Or, tailoring your marketing plan to incorporate more of the channels the Protector Mom uses.

Most important, don’t forget to listen to her – you might be surprised at what she says. At RainSoft, conducting focus groups with Protector Moms helped us focus on new initiatives, refine our marketing strategy and implement new marketing tactics. In future posts, I hope to write about some things we’ve tried, and share some tips for marketing to moms.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Calling All Innovative Baby Products

by Yarissa Reyes, communications manager, Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

Is your product innovative? Marketable? Trend Setting? Appealing? Useful? If so, it could be chosen as one of the 10 most innovative products on the market today!

Every year, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) holds a competition for the most innovative products in the market. Entries are evaluated by a selection committee of trade media representatives and industry retail buyers, and judged on their innovation, marketability, trend-setting potential, appeal and usefulness.

To compete, you must be an exhibitor at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. Winners will be announced during a press conference at the Expo and will be featured in Baby & Kids magazine.

Each year, more than 100 companies enter their most cutting-edge products for this renowned competition, but only 10 winners are selected. Will yours make the cut?

Click here to learn more about the competition and download the application today! Deadline is June 15 so act fast!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Small Business Owners Working To Amend CPSIA

by Jill Chuckas, owner, Crafty Baby; secretary, Handmade Toy Alliance

Activist, lobbyist, press secretary. Not titles that I would have anticipated preceding my name a year ago. But boy, what a year can do. I own a small, handcrafted children’s accessories business called Crafty Baby. In December 2008, one of my accounts e-mailed me requesting a General Certificate of Conformity in compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). After much reading and many restless nights, I realized that my company was in trouble. Not because my products didn’t comply with the new safety regulations, but because I knew that I could not afford the testing protocol to prove it. A week later, I joined the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) and quickly took on a leadership role in the collective effort to educate, inform and work toward common sense changes to the CPSIA.

The months since December have been a roller coaster, to say the least. I have spoken to countless members of the press, corresponded and spoken with my members of Congress, written dozens of press releases, outreached to artisan-based show promoters, including, the Buyer’s Mart of American Craft, Sugarloaf Craft Festivals, New York International Gift Fair, and Artrider Productions, and assisted in writing letters to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It is amazing what a person can do when their very livelihood is at stake!

In April, I and hundreds of others traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a rally and legislative visits. Industries affected by the CPSIA had the opportunity to share their stories in an open forum on Capital Hill. As Secretary of the HTA, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of handcrafted artists throughout the country (Video Here). Following the rally, I met with Rep. Jim Himes (CT), members of Sen. Lieberman’s (CT), Sen. Dodd’s (CT) and Sen. Kerry’s (MA) staff. In each meeting, I needed to assure my members of Congress that we at the HTA believe in child safety. We want products that are free from toxins and healthy for our families. We believe in the intention of the CPSIA, but the third party testing requirements are redundant and cost prohibitive for our membership, and do little to improve overall product safety. Many of our members, myself included, may very well be out of business in August of this year when the third party testing and batch labeling requirements go into effect.

Since the rally, I have been involved in drafting an actual amendment to the CPSIA, incorporating risk assessment back into the legislation. This way, the CPSC can once again do what they do best – assess risk in the products available for children and implement common sense rulings regarding testing protocol for lower risk products such as mine (for example, allowing component-based certifications to show that the end product is compliant). Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself writing legislation, but here I am, trying to effect real change in this law. It’s pretty different than my day job – and a lot more draining.

Without real change, small businesses throughout the country will slowly, but surely become extinct. And I, for one, will not go quietly. Joining together with other hand crafters and retailers of handcrafted products, has given me a voice and comradery that has been absolutely essential to my work to enact change. The thing is, all I really want to do is keep making my clutch balls and Nap Packs, among other things. Let’s hope this time next year, I still will be. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ABC Hosts Spring Conference, ABC Kids Expo To Move To KY In 2011 And 2012

All Baby & Child, Inc., organizer of the ABC Kids Expo in September, held the first ABC Spring Conference and Trade Show in Louisville, KY, May 4-7. The show was developed, members of the ABC Board and executives explained, to provide a venue for specialty retailers to have more direct access with manufacturers. Additionally, the conference and trade show portions of the event were staggered, allowing both retailers and manufacturers to attend educational seminars without sacrificing time on the show floor.

In a press conference, officials from the City of Louisville and ABC announced the Board of Directors’ decision to relocate the ABC Kids Expo to Louisville in 2011 and 2012. Currently held in Las Vegas, the Expo is scheduled for Sept. 23-26, 2011, and Oct.14-17, 2012. Louisville was praised as “Possibility City,” with convenient access for ABC attendees and exhibitors, modern facilities and its own brand of hospitality.

The educational portion began with a keynote breakfast during which industry leaders addressed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act and its implications for the industry. Jacque Sternquist presented the new Baby Products Experts online venture sponsored by ABC. is a new program to support specialty retailers and their unique product expertise within the community. Meanwhile, smaller breakout sessions were scheduled to address store management, selling techniques, retail displays and more.

The Spring Conference saw the continuation of ABC’s partnership with several industry organizations. Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S) collected juvenile merchandise from exhibitors to be distributed to children and families in need throughout Kentucky, and First Candle was on hand to promote its efforts to lower infant mortality rates.

The next event for ABC, The ABC Kids Expo, will be held Sept. 13-16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Baby & Kids magazine will produce The Official ABC Show Dailies each day of the Expo. For more information, visit

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome To The Blog

It seems that each day I’m getting e-mails about new business strategies to survive in a recession, or a new product parents need and kids want. From retail basics to trends, there’s a lot of information to sort through. We’re launching the Baby & Kids blog to fill an informational void and provide you with the marketing, sales, merchandising, buying and product news you need.

In addition to contributions from me, Mary Gerlach, you’ll also get the perspective of juvenile market insiders. In this era of 24-hour new cycles and a never-ending flow of information, it’s important to get your information from a trusted news source.

Bookmark this Web site or subscribe to the blog for updates. And, don’t forget to let us know what you want to read about. E-mail your feedback to