Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cloth Diaper Marketing for the Big Box

I don't often go to big box baby stores. For one, Buy Buy Baby (BBB) and Babies R Us (BRU) are on the other side of town from us.  Plus I have a special place in my heart for the small businesses in town, so I do all my baby shower and gift shopping at small local baby boutiques like KD's Treehouse and my local cloth diaper shop Carolina Cloth.

Given some special circumstances today I was gathering supplies for a project at BBB and BRU.  I started at BBB mostly because I wanted to see what their cloth diaper selection was like.  Last time I was there, in a galaxy far far away, I didn't see much (not that I was looking).  This time, as I was meandering by the bath products I spotted this display in the main aisle.

Click on the image to make it bigger.

For real. 

I'm sure there are some cloth diapering parents out there that use the same pins, prefolds, and rubber pants they were cloth diapered with, but this is the 21st century and even cloth diapers have gotten sprinkled by the technology fairy.

I finally found the diaper section and was pleased to find these displays:

BumGenius!  Lots of them!
Next to the formula?
gDiapers!  But where's the cloth inserts?
Plus, below the line of sight.
I headed over to BRU next and checked out their cloth diaper selection too and to pick up some nylon gDiaper liners since I didn't want to make a second trip for BBB to order them for me.  I found their usually well stocked gDiaper section:

Well stocked with lots of accessories and the important ones, in line of sight.  Take notes BBB.
And this, to the left on the other side of the 'natural disposables':

Its Cocalo, and evidently it has been out since January but I live in the local world so I had no idea.  Cocalo also appears to be a room decor and diaper bag manufacturer... interesting.  At first I assumed it was a pocket diaper and I considered picking one up to give it a shot.  Then I looked at the picture on the back -- it looked a lot like a gDiaper or a stylish and trim version of Walmart's new Mabu diapers.  The package I picked up had already been opened and repackaged poorly so I reopened it to take a closer look and indulge my obsession with consistency.

They reminded me of a gDiaper with a PUL outer and the nylon pouch sewn in. It also had the option of a mostly microfiber trifold insert with a stay dry topper or disposable inserts like gDiapers.  I decided against getting one since I don't like synthetic inserts and the pouch was sewn in.  I like being able to continue to use our gDiaper covers even after a poopy.

So, after my adventure I have some marketing suggestions for the gurus at our national baby-supply chains.

Buy Buy Baby.

1.  Take those darned pins, send them back to the craft section at Michael's and replace them with these.

6 Snappi colors
Snappis! The pin alternative!
 2.  I promise you, most parents who use prefolds to catch pee instead of clean up little baby vomits will want a cover.  Not rubber pants, a cover.  Go talk to your friends at Cottonbabies and they'll hook you up.
NOT these!
These!  And look!  Cute colors!  Yay!
3.  If you're going to carry a diaper, carry everything a parent will need to use that system and educate your employees about it.  Being able to order bits and pieces is not useful for parents who are going to a store to buy everything they need in person.  Nor is it useful to someone shopping for those odd things their crunchy friend has on their baby registry who doesn't know what bits and pieces are important.

4.  Stock cloth diapers by disposable diapers.  Who is going to look for cloth diapers next to the formula?  And place them at eye level to engage customers.  You know there's a science to this.

5..  Finally... kudos for carrying a variety of cloth diapering options.  Just like disposables, one brand or type of cloth diaper doesn't fit every family.  Some of my friends love pockets, others love prefolds, and I love gDiapers.  And for some people their favorite style changes as their kids get older.  The next step is to get a larger variety of brands and types -- maybe some Happy Heinys, or some AIOs and fitteds.

Babies R Us

1.  Where's the variety?  These new Cocalo are like the gDiapers.  Kudos for bringing in a competitor, but it doesn't offer much variety for families that want to cloth diaper but don't like the format of the cover-pouch-insert system.  Try some pocket diapers, AIOs, prefolds w/ covers, anything!  Take a hint from 'that other baby store'.
Cocalo, stuffed.  Different insert, waterproof outer,
sewn in pouch.  Otherwise, very similar.

Stuffed gDiaper, from Joyful Abode who has a great
gWhiz series!
Here's some inspiration:

cloth diaper reviews, cloth baby diapers
B. EcoChic

2.  Kudos on creating exciting displays at eye level in direct geographic competition with disposable diapers.  Also, kudos on bringing in 'gateway' diapers (most people call them hybrids).

Its good to see cloth diapers in 'regular stores'.  As much as I hope this does not drive the small cloth diapering businesses out, this is where they need to be to catch the eye of your average mom and dad who are shopping for diapers.  I hope that a equilibrium can be reached where small businesses still have a large role in marketing and selling of cloth diapers, but big box stores and their customers embrace them as well.  After all, the end goal is to decrease waste and preserve our planet.

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