Since joining the motherhood club I’ve been bombarded by a slew of companies trying to sell me stuff. They are fully aware that new parents are at a crossroads in their lives, and they have this one window in time in which to win us over as a buyer for all the diapers and wipes and food and toys that we will purchase for the next five years. I won’t bore you with the statistics, but they know we are each worth tens of thousands of dollars. And they’re right.
But we have to get these things somehow, so they might as well be the ones to service us and feed our growing families, right? Sure, but the problem arises when these businesses can’t return the favor with an hospitable environment for the kids and babies they’re benefiting from. Let me bring this message home. Several Knoxville companies have been very helpful to me and my husband, as we’ve carted the little one into restaurants, gotten our grocery shopping done and otherwise accomplished all the things that have to be done to manage a household. But there have been a few that have, unfortunately, handled things oh so wrong.
There was a little run in at a particular store involving an impatient employee who couldn’t handle my crying baby. When I asked to have a moment to soothe him she suggested I come back when I could “get a babysitter.” I gently explained that I am the babysitter. He was 6 weeks old at the time, and no, we were not in a place where the crying could be heard by other customers.
At another local restaurant, I asked if there was a place to breastfeed my child while we waited for a table. I was told, “I don’t know. Use the bathroom.” Yes, because that’s a great place in which to feed an infant. I walked upstairs and found an available and discreet bench that could have been easily suggested.
OK, so enough focusing on the few times the service fell flat. All done. Regardless of which side you fall on – some would say it’s not a restaurant’s job to provide an area for nursing – there are some basic reasons Knoxville businesses need to listen up and we, as moms and dads, need to demand respect.
What’s our message to businesses? Try this on for size: If it’s not enough that being nice to mamas and daddies is the right thing to do for your brand, know that doing the alternative hits your bottom line and you will likely pay dearly.
This is not a threat. It’s just what the statistics are saying.
So this is my call to all you Knoxville mamas. Wear the influence you have, and wear it proudly. You are one of the biggest reasons American companies thrive. Just take a look at some of the stats:
– Moms represent $2.4 trillion in spending
– Moms mention brands an average of 73 times per week compared with just 57 times per week among males
– 90% of moms are online vs. just 76% of women in general (that means we will write and read reviews that influence buying behavior)
– 64% of moms ask other mothers for advice before they purchase a new product
But what do we do about it? First, don’t feel guilty when a company does make your life easier. That doesn’t mean we have to be rude and ungrateful, but we also don’t have to be embarrassed when the baby gets fussy or we need a place to change a diaper. This also goes for daddies.
And breastfeeding mamas? If all nursing mothers decided to stay home instead of frequenting restaurants and stores, think of all the lost revenue. For mamas and daddies who don’t work, they have an opportunity to visit all types of stores during “down” hours when sales potential is huge. If businesses can make life easier for these parents by creating a baby-friendly bathroom or a kids area with toys, it can mean more revenue in the long run.
I would even go so far as to urge all restaurants to hang a sign reading “Breastfeed Here!” because you better believe I’m going to mosey on in….with my pocketbook no less. And if you’re nice to me, I’d even forego my favorite foodie spot to be rewarded with kind smiles and friendly service for me and my baby. Yes, it makes that much of a difference.
So I’ll end with this. Know that big companies, smart companies, market directly to you because they know you make the buying decisions. So let’s not let our local companies off the hook. In this case, what’s good for you is good for them.
Wear that baby and be proud.