In the News
Bump Club keeps new moms together
By Brigid Sweeney | March 24, 2012
On a recent Thursday night, 30 pregnant women crowd into Twinkle Twinkle Little One, a children's boutique in Roscoe Village, to discuss nursery décor—and to drop a lot of money.
The event is one of nearly a dozen hosted each month by Bump Club, a fast-growing network of expectant and new moms who gather for workouts, brunches and seminars. Many of these women once shopped together for shoes and scarves. Now the club helps them maintain their sisterhood as they navigate the overwhelming purchasing decisions motherhood brings. In the process, it also creates a dream target audience for retailers from North Side boutiques to Gap Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
"The customers that we've gained have been phenomenal," says Lara Heffernan, Twinkle Twinkle Little One's manager, who says every Bump Club event she has hosted has sold out, and some have waiting lists.
While retailers including Sears Holdings Corp. and consumer brands such as Kraft long ago established a presence in the mommy blogosphere to harness mothers' $4.2 trillion spending power, a growing number of "real life" networks are peeling mothers away from their computers and getting them into stores.
These groups capitalize on both "the age-old need of new moms to get out of the house" and their acute interest in infant development and corresponding products, says Michal Clements, a senior principal at Chicago-based consultancy Cambridge Group and co-author of "Tuning Into Mom."
Stroller Strides, a national moms' fitness business, has a southwest suburban franchise that regularly walks Orland Square Mall in Orland Park during winter months, and Chicago's Sassy Moms in the City, created to raise money for family-support organizations, has evolved into a social group that has held events at Lakeview's Building Blocks Toy Store, among other locations.
Bump Club is the largest in the Chicago area, with 7,700 Facebook fans and an email database with more than 5,000 addresses. It also has an affiliate in Austin, Texas, begun by a Chicago transplant. And it's choosy about its retail partners.
Lindsay Pinchuk, 32, a former Midwest advertising manager for Good Housekeeping and Redbook magazines, started the network when she was pregnant with her daughter, now 17 months old. In addition to boutiques like Twinkle Twinkle Little One and Galt Baby, Ms. Pinchuk has brought her moms to the Denim Bar, Lululemon, and Gap and Baby Gap's Lincoln Park locations. She also has been meeting with other major national retailers.
Last year, after Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft approached her to raise awareness about its new store at Oakbrook Center, she hosted a daylong event there—but it was all about moms, not gadgets. Events included a morning ballet-barre workout courtesy of Corte Madera, Calif.-based Dailey Method LLC (another frequent Bump Club partner), nutrition and baby-proofing seminars and a concert by children's musician Mr. Fingers.
"It did wind up driving sales, but that's not the point," Ms. Pinchuk says. "I don't want to be a spokesperson; I want to do a genuine job in recommending products I would use."
Bump Club does have paid sponsors, but she says the deals don't include any promises of recommendations. Revenue also comes from members. While a basic membership is free, a VIP one costs $100 annually.
Her aversion to pushing product makes Bump Club more attractive to retailers, marketing consultant Patti Minglin says. "Brands get to interact with real moms," but without the hard sell, "it's like hosting your own little focus group," says the CEO of Chicago-based Go Girl Communications and a marketing-to-mom expert.