What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us
By The Numbers

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Now buy stuff

Ariana Tobin May 15, 2014

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Shutterfly, an online photo printing service, sent out a mass email with the subject line: “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” — even to people who were not, in fact, pregnant.

According to a survey by the U.S. Department of AgricultureAmericans will put an average of $241,080 into a child born in 2012 (incidentally, the average calf costs about $363.69). To mix animal metaphors, there’s profit to be made off the nesting impulse. The global baby care market was worth $44.7 billion in 2011 and by some estimates, it could be as big as $66.8 billion by 2017.

Shutterfly made the kind of honest mistake that keeps marketing departments up at night. The company’s chief marketing officer has since sent an email with language like “Please accept our most sincere apologies… We know this is a sensitive issue.”  

But the fact remains: Pregnant people (and their supportive counterparts) spend a lot of money. Why not wish for more of them? 

Companies do all sorts of marketing sommersaults to sell goods to expectant parents, despite the “sensitive” nature of species procreation.

A few strategies:

Pretend like you’re selling luxury cars: Meet “The Leather Aston Martin James Bond Baby Stroller”: It features “aluminum alloy wheels,” is made of “fine leather and air-ride suspension,” and costs $3,000. 

Go green, recycle: When a baby outgrows this $999.16 “pure wool felt” hanging tripod crib, the crib lives on organically: “grow something else, flowers or tomatoes…. A transparent hood, durable and lightweight, which turns it into a small winter plants shelter, in the garden or on the terrace.”

Use the words “all-in-one: Bonus points if you also include the phrase “multi-tasker,” or “more than two hands.” 

Take, for example, the Combi All In One Mobile Entertainer. It’s not only a high chair, it’s also a walker, noise-maker, and vintage car.

Baby straight jackets: Aww.

Parents (or people who have had parents): If babies double as a money-making venture, what do you think it’s important for companies to remember? What kinds of sales pitch works best?

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.