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girley-twirley-ruffle-4758-hires-537x404You could make a strong argument that the most creatively branded product in history is the diaper. Consider what they do. Now consider what has been done with them. P&G’s Pampers has become a content marketing icon, virtually launching a legion of mommy bloggers. Colgate-Palmolive’s Huggies is a case study in customer retention and loyalty.

Enter gDiapers. The Portland, OR-based company is the green version of its larger competitors and its stated goal is to eliminate conventional disposable diapers from the planet. The products themselves are reusable diaper covers with disposable or cloth inserts. There’s a reusable diaper cover (the gPants), and a disposable diaper insert that you can flush, compost or toss. Disposable inserts are 100% biodegradable. The branding is a mix of irreverent personality and aggressive content marketing.

“Our goal is to compete,” says marketing manager Doe Hatfield. “Conventional disposable diapers aren’t good for our babies and they’re hitting landfills at a rate we can’t sustain. Larger numbers of new parents find gDiapers every year. But to have a future in which Pampers and the like are a bad memory, we’re working two main areas.”

The first is brand and product awareness. The gDiaper team is using content marketing and a limited ad budget to present a choice to expecting moms. Its retail performance at large chains such as Babies R Us, Whole Foods and independent natural food chains, but only a percentage of expecting parents are looking beyond Huggies and Pampers. A majority of first-time customers find the company through online search, and its ecommerce site offers “bundles” of products at various sizes and price points.

It is also competing on price. According to Hatfield, the price per diaper of Pampers Sensitive, for example, increases by nearly 50% price/diaper from 12 lbs to 22 lbs. By the time a baby is in larger sizes, the price difference of the gDiapers inserts hovers around $.01/diaper. gDiapers also has the initial investment of reusable diaper covers.

“Our customers tell us keeping diapers out of the landfill is the first reason they choose gDiapers,” says Hatfield. “But it’s not just the one-time choice of picking gDiapers. Each of our three disposable options—flushing, composting or tossing, reinforces what our customers know, which is that it’s possible to do something different than tossing soiled, plastic diapers in the trash every few hours.”

The green community, the mom community and even the activist community has rallied around the gDiapers social media presence. Its online content shares environmental information and activist opportunities but it’s the babies and parenting that keeps the gDiapers community engaged.

“On the ground, and very unique to gDiapers, we have a vibrant and organic group of “gMums” and “gDads”. Not long after gDiapers began, a customer initiated a Yahoo group for people who were passionate about spreading the word about gDiapers,” says Hatfield. “Today the gMum/Dad program is nearly 9,000+ strong and connected through social media, a newsletter, gatherings we call “gTeas” and resources gDiapers provides that support what they’re busy doing anyway—talking about gDiapers. Our gMums and gDads are a passionate group that continues to inspire our work. I think our voice has come from our constant connection with our customers through customer service and a genuine shared experience of developing as parents and loving our babies. Babies bring out beauty and terror; joy and shortcomings in us all, and that’s reflected in our voice.”

The company was started in 2008 by Jason and Kim Graham-Nye, who at the time were new parents in Portland. In the U.S., disposable diapers are the 4th largest single contributor to landfills (of non-durable goods), about 27 billion diapers a year. And that’s just the U.S. The brand’s personality is a bit more raw about parenting and the daily rituals which drive parenthood. Hatfield expects the brand’s visual language to mature as well as its digital marketing. Customers will see a new website, new packaging and a bigger social media presence.

“In the coming year, we will be working hard to find high-performing materials that are generative for the planet and reduce costs for consumers. As marketers, we will work all channels to build awareness that there is a way to diaper your child in health, without junking up the planet,” says Hatfield. “Parents want the best for the babies and the earth these babies will inherit. No one thinks tossing a plastic diaper feels good. We will continue to work to so that parents know that there is different future available and are reminded that they have the power to make that future now.”

 

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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