The First Hit is Free

The local Tractor Supply Center is doing Chick Days. It’s a semiannual event where they have newly-hatched chickens and ducklings for sale, something like two dollars apiece. It’s cute.

Tractor Supply doesn’t make money off baby birds; it costs more than $2 to run heat lamps and clean all that duck poop. The event is sponsored by pet food manufacturers — Purina, MannaPro, Nutrena, &co. Because once you get the animal, you’re stuck buying animal food for the rest of its life. Come to think of it, my childhood kitten was “free” as well.

That’s how they get you.

It’s a good strategy. All those countries struggling with sub-replacement fertility rates – Japan, Germany, the US – why don’t they do this to rope in new parents?

I don’t mean handing out free babies; people much prefer to make their own. But baby food companies like Gerber and Similac should incentivize this sort of market expansion. Who’s gonna consume their products if the birth rate falls to zero? H-1B workers?

Childbirth subsidies might be a good start, but people don’t avoid kids only due to cost. People avoid kids due to the widespread perception that children are obnoxious little demons. It’s not wrong, but it’s not something that can’t be fixed with a bit of marketing.

You know what sucks? Homeownership. Owning a house is a heck of a lot of work with all sorts of potential liability. But thanks to a taxpayer-funded marketing campaign, the Federal Housing Administration convinced multiple generations of Americans that the quickest path to freedom is to mire yourself in debt.

Screw that. The American Dream is being able to call my landlord any time I clog the toilet or lock myself out. Wanna know why the rent is so damn high? BECAUSE IT’S WORTH IT.

Baby companies currently tailor their marketing to those who already have (or expect) kids. That kind of blinkered thinking is EXACTLY why Toys R Us went out of business! People with kids are hosed; they’re stuck buying your products whether they like it or not. Baby brands need to target the real untapped market: Those who don’t have kids.

Take a page from the FHA strategy book! Inspire your audience to keep up with the Joneses; instill a healthy sense of FOMO! Like this:

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