Thursday, March 08, 2007

First Set of Wheels

With my head filled with baby concerns such as ante-natal classes, Pilates for pregnant women, I have found it hard to find a subject matter that doesn't bore others, especially men, to death.

So I'm going to keep this post short and hopefully somewhat amusing. A trend has been growing in many countries which I'm sure will sweep across the metropolis (or at least Recoleta, Buenos Aires) of Argentina at some point...fathers are not only becoming more hands-on with raising children but they are now an equally important targeted consumer group when it comes to baby product advertising.

The two products in which branding and designs have evolved drastically in the past 5 years to fit a more masculine image of fatherhood are the stroller (cochecito) and the diaper bag.

When my nephew who is 9 was a newborn, most strollers and diaper bags on the market had infantile patterns such as teddy bears or balloons all over them. In those less motherly days, I sworn to myself I won't ever be caught dead pushing or carrying one of those. As fate would have it, I don't have to. A decade later, most strollers and their "matchy-matchy" diaper bags sport streamlined designs in black or navy. Some producers are also venturing into smart industrial grey with a tint of crisp lime green or orange.

Except for the premium strollers from Europe such as Bugaboo (Netherlands) and Stokke (Norway), most strollers on the market are manufactured in China and they get slapped on a brand name depending on where they are exported to.

In Argentina, the names still bear connection with the occupier of the set of wheels; hence, names such as Infantil, Kiddy. In most English speaking countries, however, the names are an obvious reflection of changing times and sentiment in our social structure. Strollers are now bigger, darker and meaner looking; bearing names such as Beema (a take on BMW perhaps?), Jeep (and I thought we were now living in more environmentally conscious times than aspiring to owning an oil-guzzling, air-polluting 4WD), or McLaren (a Formula One stroller?). Maybe we would soon see fathers pushing a "Merc" or is that just too cheeky?

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