The Empowered Marketer: Nurturing a Baby Brand With Michael Wieder of Lalo
If you’ve ever experienced what it’s like prepping for parenthood, then you also know the word “overwhelming” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Lalo is the modern baby and toddler company that’s simplifying the process for millennial parents-to-be. But they’re not trying to compete with the Carters’, Honest Companies, and Huggies of the world — or at least not just yet.
That’s because currently the direct to consumer brand includes just two products — The Daily Stroller and The Chair. Meanwhile Lalo Co-founder, President, and CMO Michael Wider isn’t trying to to recreate the traditional big box retail experience when it comes to baby gear. Instead, he’s focused on pairing a great product with an unbeatable customer experience.
In this episode we’ll talk about:
- How due dates and other customer data inform their product line, marketing, and even suggested order shipment dates
- Why DTC brands like Lalo must emphasize customer experience and support
- The power of word-of-mouth in a market where trust can’t be bought, but can be earned
Listen to the Full Episode
Cara Hogan: What inspired you to start Lalo, and what about the brand is different?
Michael Weider: Early on in starting the business, we went to one of those big box stores, and I saw a couple standing there in the aisle looking at strollers and they were on their phone Googling. And I just walked up to them and I said, “What’s the number one word you would use to describe how you feel right now?” And they just looked at me and said, “Overwhelmed.” It turns out they had been there three times, they still didn’t know what they wanted, and no one was helping them. They were turning to Google in this store to figure out what they needed.
So, that was a clear sign that a brand that really cared about parents was needed. I think our products are amazing and they’re extremely thoughtfully designed. They’re meant to last and grow with families. But ultimately, it comes down to our experience and that’s what we’re trying to change. We know we make amazing premium products, but we’re trying to really be there for parents through the entire process of shopping for their babies and their toddlers in this next generation of parents.
Cara: How do you differentiate yourself from competitors?
Michael: The real difference between us and them is the way that brands are set up today. The only time they talk to a customer is when there’s a problem — they talk when they have a warranty issue or their product is broken. That’s when they get the customer’s information, because they don’t own the relationship. So where we come in as a DTC brand, we’re able to talk to our customers every single day. We’re able to talk to them about positive things, happy things, and be there along for the joy of being a parent and the milestones they hit with their children.
Where we really stand out is that we can personify our brand and be there for our customers in a totally different way than the brands of yesterday. The brands of the future will be there in the lives of parents and show up to celebrate with them as their kid starts to walk or as they start potty training. So both these exciting times and these scary times, there will now be a brand that they can talk to and turn to, both from a service and product perspective.
Cara: Do you consider word-of-mouth really important when targeting parents? Maybe more so than other audiences?
Michael: Word-of-mouth is so important in this space because that’s ultimate trust and validation. When you think about the customer journey in this space, it often starts in two places — with a friend or on Google. And how do we show up strong in those places? By creating a brand and products people love. When we launched the stroller, we even talked to people that already have a stroller, knowing that they weren’t going to buy it, just so they could recommend it to their friends to check out. That’s been a big part of our strategy. If people are talking about the products, people will buy it.
I think it’s more true in this industry than anywhere else, but it’s also about how all of these things work together. Instagram, word-of-mouth, influencers, review sites — they all come together very holistically to build trust and validation. If you’re on a review site but you’ve never been seen on Instagram, it’s not going to come together. If you’re seen on Instagram and someone goes to Google and they can’t find a review, it’s going to fall flat. Or if their friends have never heard of it when they go ask them, it’s going to fall flat. So it’s really about how these all come together.
Cara; What are the pros and cons of starting the business as direct to consumer?
Michael: The power of DTC is how close you are to the consumer and the customer. If you view them as users and part of a community, that’s everything. So one thing that we did at launch was we said we’re going to be online, but we always wanted to have physical presence. Especially in this category, people do want to see the products.
So we launched a showroom in New York City. We have a physical retail space that’s a beautiful fourth floor, Soho loft. It looks just like a home, and people are able to come in, meet with a member of our staff one-on-one, sit on a couch, get a cold beverage, really explore the products — take it out on the streets for a test drive, or pull it up to a kitchen table and see what it would look like in a home. And that’s been tremendous to us. So where we’re most focused on is growing that, growing our own physical presence, whether it be in New York, in other urban areas, or some of these more secondary and tertiary cities that are very underserved by the big box experience.