Parenting blogs were humming with talk this week about just who would buy Pampers' new designer diapers when the luxury line -- replete with pastels, madras, and ruffles -- goes on sale later this month at Target and Target.com at prices about 60% higher than existing brands.
Many fashion-forward moms readily admitted that they are tired of outfitting their toddlers in diapers adorned with oh-so-yesterday Sesame Street characters like Elmo, Grover and Big Bird.
But that may not be enough for them to walk into a store and shell out $15.99 for a 24-pack of toddler-sized designer diapers whose boring white counterparts typically retail for around $10.
"I'm not sure what their target market is," said Jennifer James, a North Carolina-based blogger who founded the Mom Bloggers Club, which currently has over 10,000 members. "I know they are going to be quite expensive," added James, who has been hired by companies that make luxury baby products to test their latest goods. "But then again I know there are some moms who really believe in the high-end baby market."
Leading fashion designer and mom Cynthia Rowley created the diapers, which will be available in 11 styles for girls and boys and were touted in a Proctor & Gamble press release as incorporating a "beautiful look and feel -- giving discerning parents high performance, value and choice of style."
"As a mom, I wanted other moms and dads to have more options in every part of their lives -- even diapers," said Rowley, who has designed other items for Target. "It's the first piece of clothing your baby will ever wear, and it should be special."
Also open to question is whether moms will be persuaded to shell out extra money for Pampers when the brand is already embroiled in a controversy over its Dry Max technology. Some parents claimed this spring that diapers with Dry Max caused rashes, burns and bleeding.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission opened an investigation into the matter in part after WalletPop's Consumer Alley pointed out the growing wave of complaints about Dry Max diapers on social media sites earlier this year.
With the global market for diapers expected to hit $26.6 billion in 2012, diaper makers are searching for ways to set their brands apart. The market leaders, Pampers and Huggies, are jostling for first place in an arena where most parents have already chosen their favorite.
Pamper's designer nappies will be released just as shelves are filling up with another trendy diaper, Huggies Little Movers Jeans Diapers. The limited-edition diapers, which were first introduced in Israel several years ago, will be available this summer and are already a hit in 20 countries, according to manufacturer Kimberly-Clark.
The diapers debuted at New York's fashion week in May and are all the rage on Kimberly-Clark's Huggies Facebook page where many moms posted pictures of their tots modeling the new diapers and begged the company to extend its limited run in the U.S.
Some parents, however, were not impressed with attempts by diaper companies to make their babies into fashion plates, adding that Huggies designer diapers leaked and caused other problems. "My husband bought them and they are the stupidest things in the entire world," said Jen Levinson, founder of the daily electronic newsletter Jen's List, which reaches 15,000 Los Angeles-area families. "I put them on my boys and they gave them a really bad rash."
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