Even before I left the hospital, I found myself ladened with product samples of everything from baby bath to stain remover. Not to mention discount vouchers for an eclectic range of products, including electronic tag systems, personalised jukeboxes, vomit-proof vests and condoms. By the time my daughter was only a few weeks old, we had received junk mail encouraging us to rewrite our wills, move house, buy a new car, escape for a night to a range of hotels and remortgage in order to equip the nursery.
I routinely tick the box on promotional material forbidding my details to be passed to related suppliers, so I still have no idea how they knew that our family now included a new consumer.
Of course it makes perfect sense. Rarely in adult life are you less sure of yourself and more susceptible to suggestion. When my first daughter was born, I was amazed when they let me out of the hospital with her.
No matter how successful your career and life to date, when you are handed this vulnerable little bundle you feel like a complete novice and become susceptible to any message that plays on this sense of inadequacy.
Every article, ad and direct mail paints an ideal picture of family life to which one, of course, aspires. While in your right mind you realise that your new offspring will develop into a perfectly rounded individual without 'must-have' items, such as a vibrating high-chair with glow-in-the-dark feeding spoons that play Mozart, in the madness that follows birth you become convinced that without said item your child will be condemned to a lifetime of behavioural disorders and under-achievement.
Add to this the guilt of the working mother and a marketer couldn't really ask for more. Guilt works, but considering how many women work in marcoms and consumer-oriented PR, couldn't brand messages be tempered with a little reality?
Must go, I've got to buy a recently launched vibrating backpack baby carrier I've just read about.