Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baby, Baby, Baby

I value the marketing strategy of acquiring and retaining consumers to build a brand long-term. Consequently, I applaud Disney’s recent move to target newborns. Baby, baby, baby!

Read On:
Last month Disney launched its Disney Baby initiative targeting U.S. maternity hospitals. Bilingual representatives visited new mothers and offered a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit complete with a bedside demonstration highlighting its features and benefits. Disney projects they will give away 200,000 bodysuits by May before Amazon.com begins selling 85 styles; $9.99 for two. Retail giants Target and Nordstrom will follow with more Disney Baby items including hats.

Aggressive move given Disney fielded some heat when they marketed Baby Einstein, their entertainment line of videos and toys for babies and toddlers. The non-profit group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood challenged Disney asserting that the products did not turn babies into geniuses. The non-profit group even offered some refunds to parents in some select cases.

The negative publicity did not deter Disney since they estimate that the North American, baby market including staples (e.g., baby formula) is worth $36.3 billion. Interesting, Disney’s chairman, Andrew P. Mooney indicated: “Apparel is only a beachhead.” Apparently Disney has ambitious plans to sell bath items, strollers, food, etc. Their Disney Baby initiative will evolve beyond the crib. Long-term they intend to draw parents into the company’s broader web of products and experiences – a loyalty program where pregnant women will receive free theme park tickets for signing up to their e-mail alerts. In the words of Mr. Rooney:
“To get that Mom thinking about her family’s first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run. A large number of families do not become consumers of Disney products until their children reach pre-school age, when they start to watch Disney Channel programs like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

Once again the critics are surfacing. Children Now, an advocacy group claims Disney is taking advantage of families at an extremely vulnerable time. In addition, they believe having access to maternity hospitals as customer hunting grounds is an invasion of privacy. Regardless, Disney continues to push forward and offer free stuff in their quest to carve out their chunk of the baby market, as they build their brand long-term. Imagine getting a free pink bodysuit adorned with Simba when you take your prenatal sonogram and find out it is a girl!


  1. Despite my affinity for brilliant marketing, I am not a fan of the overcommericalization of every aspect of life. The Disney campaign strikes me as one of these. Dial it back a bit Walt, and try to use a little more subtlety. It might pay off..

  2. Add a better nonprofit program to it and I say .. go for it Minnie Mouse!

  3. ... and one lucky baby in each hospital gets their cute little baby butt tattooed with Mickey ears and gets into the parks free for life! Anyone believe they're including (let alone targeting) low income hospitals (where new moms could really use the extra clothing?

  4. All great points. Thank you for your comments and different spin. Disney is really leading the charge in intercept marketing on this one - point of birth.

  5. Disney knows the value of building repeat customers and they also understand the power of the "emotional connection". Who is more emotional than a "about to be" new mom? Maybe the question to ask is "can my business look beyond its current target market and start to build new relationships that may result in an expanded customer base?"

  6. LIKE. This is similar to Apple putting Mac computers in schools - I think. Hook 'em while they're young. Nice Jim :)

  7. Perhaps Disney could sponsor one of those pageants for babies. Miss Princess? Miss Minnie? Can you imagine?!

    Check out these frightening photos...