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In Retailers We Trust

This just in: Motherhood is tough!

This just in: Motherhood is tough! From stretch marks and weight gain to bouts of postpartum depression and chronic pain to juggling family and career obligations, the job can take its toll physically, mentally and emotionally. Fortunately, moms don’t have to fight the battle on their own, nor must they maintain a pretense that everything is perfect anymore. Thanks, in part, to the power of social media, the tide is turning on what motherhood really looks and feels like.

Moms are increasingly sharing the mental and physical challenges that come with bringing a new life into the world. From body positivity campaigns to conversations about normalizing breastfeeding, women are becoming exponentially more confident in speaking the truth: Motherhood isn’t always pretty or perfect. Even celebrities who’ve been chastised for bouncing back on the red carpet days after giving birth are coming clean about what’s really going on when the professional makeup and shapewear are off. Recently, model and author Chrissy Teigen uploaded a photo to her nearly 14 million Instagram followers of herself in hospital-issued mesh underwear, poking fun at her “new look” three days after giving birth to her son. Model Candice Swanepoel also posted a photo in a bikini captioned, “This is me 12 days after having my son. If you have something bad to say about it…Check yourself.”

What does all this “reality motherhood” mean to children’s retailers? It’s an opportunity to embrace the openness and connect with moms in desperate need of knowledge, advice, support and a little friendly reassurance that everything’s gonna be alright. Retailers are the main contact point for new moms seeking information on what to buy, how to use it and why. As women embark on the job of a lifetime, they need people they can truly trust.

Sure, moms can find reams of information online from favorite vloggers, DIY YouTube videos and topic-specific websites. They can also ask family, friends and doctors what’s new in strollers, breast pumps, cribs, safety items, maternity wear, etc. But do any of these sources know more than a retailer whose reputation and livelihood depend on having the intel? Good retailers have already done the research. They’ve shopped the market, listened to countless product pitches and might even have tested items before writing orders. Many also have years of experience, loads of data and face-to-face customer feedback. They know what works and what doesn’t. And they have a vested interest in keeping their knowledge up to date because a repeat customer is the most affordable profit center.

As a knowledgeable retailer, you can give new moms a goldmine of advice they can really use. And providing exceptional customer service forges an emotional bond that paves the way to lifelong loyalty in your customers. There’s nothing wrong with selling cute prints and accessories, but great maternity retailers do more: They feel a deep responsibility to aid their customers’ transition into motherhood. If you don’t believe me, take it from some of the retailers quoted in this month’s Baby issue:

“When new or expecting moms walk in, they don’t know about what they haven’t read in a book. My staff covers the rest—it takes a fellow mom to explain what’s really going on.” —Brenda Cornwell, owner, Mom & Me Boutique, Virginia Beach, VA

“I won’t buy anything I don’t know works firsthand because moms need to trust us.” —Emily Kammerer, owner, Laura Belle Boutique, Farmington, MO

“I’d rather give them an honest answer and have them come back than have them buy something they don’t need and never come back.” —Ken Vuong, owner, Nest Maternity, San Francisco

Maria Nyline-Asker—president of Ayablu, maker of Burt’s Bees Baby and the subject of this month’s Q&A (p. 10)—agrees that appealing to parents on an emotional level turns them into loyal customers. The organic company not only works hard to produce and market safe and sustainable products at an affordable price, but its mission also includes connecting with customers personally. This year, Burt’s Bees Baby is re-launching its blog with posts about real issues moms care about—and with the ability to comment. The company also insists on only showcasing real moms and their babies across its social media channels for a truly authentic representation of its products and their rapport with mothers.

Other brands have gotten creative with ways to make Mom feel special and beautiful, be it belly tattoos and baby bump castings or milestone graphics on apparel and accessories. Anne Klein, creator of Fish Kiss and our Designer Chat profile (p. 36), says her U.S. state–inspired collections are often used in pregnancy announcements on Instagram, showcasing one-pieces of the parents’ home states next to the first sonogram.

Retailers should capitalize on the opportunity to connect with customers on a momentous occasion like motherhood. It’s not just about selling diapers, swaddles and pacifiers. It’s about being a trusted resource that moms can turn to time and again for goods, services and advice. It’s about being a port in the daily storm of parenting. It’s about selling keepsakes and potential family heirlooms. Of course, it’s also about the beautiful babies. Just look at the cherubic faces in our Spring ’19 babywear fashion preview (p. 22). They have their whole lives ahead of them. And our industry is right there with them—as well as their moms—to get it all started.

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