Digital Marketing Redux   //   July 8, 2024

Kids brands are targeting young parents with collaborations and influencer campaigns

When it comes to marketing children’s products, brands are putting the parents front and center.

In particular, many brands in this category are going after millennial and Gen Z parents, who increasingly hold more buying power in the children’s category. About 40% of millennials in the U.S. identify as parents, numbering more than 22 million. Meanwhile, one in 10 parents are now Gen Z, with many using TikTok to discover new products.

But young, busy parents are bombarded by digital ads on a daily basis. To appeal to the digitally-native generations, brands like Coterie, PatPat, and Little Spoon are utilizing influencer marketing and collaborations with coveted brands. According to these companies, today’s young parents are hyper-aware of online advertising and brands in categories like baby and kids face fierce competition to grab this customer’s attention.

Millennial and Gen Z parents have more options than ever before when deciding what type of diapers or baby food to buy. In turn, they are spending a lot more time researching products based on brand values, such as clean ingredients and sustainability.

“Our mission is to prioritize parents by providing them with high-quality products and services,” said Jess Jacobs, chief brand officer at Coterie, a baby care startup that sells diapers, baby wipes and more. Jacobs said offering trustworthy and simplified resources on parenting is another area of focus for Coterie. The company has a blog section on its website where it covers everything from how to find the right diaper fit, to the benefits of training pants during potty training.

“Our goal is to ultimately empower them with the confidence to parent with assurance and peace of mind. Above all, we want to be change-makers for parents,” Jacobs said.

Since launching in 2019, Coterie has been targeting young parents through several strategies, including celebrity and influencer marketing campaigns. The brand’s latest out-of-home campaign stars supermodel and Coterie investor Karlie Kloss. The company also has an ongoing ambassador partnership with model and influencer Ashley Graham. These partnerships came about organically, with Kloss and Graham being fans of Coterie’s products before getting involved with the company. Jacobs said that as a brand placing the focus on parenthood, Coterie has “adopted a modern, contemporary aesthetic,” which includes working with young celebrity moms as partners.

Now, Coterie is expanding its product line beyond baby products to appeal to young, fashion-conscious parents. 

In May, Coterie launched its pull-on, disposable swim diaper, called The Swimsuit. Alongside the new diaper style, Coterie partnered with swimwear brand Hunza G on a mommy-and-me bathing suit collection. Hunza G, best known for making the mini dress worn by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, created the two styles.

Partnerships with beloved brands are a big part of the strategy to pull in millennial and Gen Z parents. Kids meal service Little Spoon, for instance, is currently on a streak of product collaborations with brands like Oatly and Graza.

Coterie’s swimsuit for moms is made with Hunza G’s crinkle stretch fabric, and is geared at helping sculpt and support both expecting moms and postpartum body shapes. Meanwhile, the toddler suit fits girls ages two and six. 

Amy Nichols, senior director of brand partnerships at Coterie, told Modern Retail that Coterie’s approach is to build a modern brand that speaks to modern parents. The company’s product development roadmap is largely based on feedback from Coterie’s customers. Until now, Coterie’s major product categories have been diapers and wipes. 

“It’s important to us to listen to the needs of our community and a high-performance swim has consistently been the number one most requested product,” Nichols said, which led to the launch of the swim diaper and Hunza G collaboration. In June, Coterie promoted the new Hunza G collaboration with a Hamptons pool party with Goop.

“We were thrilled, if a little surprised, when it sold out in a week.” Next, Nichols said the company wants to do a product partnership that includes dads and baby boys.

Matching outfits have been another big draw for millennial and Gen Z parents, some of whom place a big priority on products look good to post about on social media.

Online retailer PatPat, founded in 2014, specializes in affordable matching outfits for children and families. In turn, PatPat has to appeal to the fashion sensibility of not just kids, but adults.

“Our main customers are parents, especially mothers, seeking trendy and affordable clothing for their kids and family matching styles for the entire family,” PatPat’s head of marketing, Ranu Coleman said. with a big focus on Millennial and Gen Z parents, with marketing targets this group through social media, influencer collaborations, and online ads.

The global nature of PatPat’s brand – it has availability in 140 countries – also informs the company’s marketing strategy. Coleman said PatPat prioritizes localized content over big national campaigns, which the company believes helps it build authority in different markets.

Earlier this year, PatPat rolled out what the company calls a “pyramid of influence” model to reach young parents. The prongs include partnering with one core celebrity mom or mega influencer, three to four core mega mommy-and-kid influencers, evergreen ambassadors, and everyday customers and followers to leverage the overall trend of social shopping. For example, one of the brand’s current influencer partners is U.K.-based Botan Almohammad, who often posts English countryside content in matching family looks from PatPat.

Coleman said licensed characters are also a major part of PatPat’s product development and customer acquisition. The company’s license partnerships include Disney, Mattel, and Paw Patrol, among others.

“Our latest campaign with Disney featured Lilo + Stitch and Mickey + Friends styles,” Coleman said, which was centered around families who love to match while on vacations or doing fun activities. “We sought out influencers who enjoy family bonding and creating fun memories with their kids while also being Disney enthusiasts or fans of the character styles we were selling.” 

PatPat will continue testing digitally-focused marketing tactics to gauge what today’s parents are responding to. Still, Coleman said with so much noise online, there are challenges in trying to stand out when reaching young busy parents. 

“Staying ahead in product development and marketing strategies is crucial,” Coleman said. Marketing to this cohort also means constantly monitoring platform preferences, she added, and knowing which digital channels are most effective at any given time. “Parents ignore ads if they see too many, so creative and non-intrusive marketing are key,” she said.