Babies are good for business – though that probably shouldn’t be the first compliment one delivers to a new mother. Babies are also adorable and that is probably the right place to start.
However while any individual baby may or may not actually be adorable, babies in aggregate are good for the economy. A little over 4 million babies were born in the U.S. last year and during that year, those babies’ parents spent between $10,000 and $14,000 feeding, clothing and diapering them. All in, babies add between $40 billion and $56 billion to the U.S. economy, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment for a demographic group that can’t walk, talk or chew solid food.
And that is just an average year — every so often a particularly economically productive baby is born. This week, “every so often” officially kicked off in London – as Prince William and Princess Kate welcomed their second child – Princess Charlotte. Yesterday, the baby princess’ name was officially announced before her first Royal Audience. The Queen – and her loyal subjects in the U.K. (and devoted fans around the world) hit the shops and the “buy now” buttons to celebrate her long awaited arrival.
“The royals having a baby girl is most likely to result in a financial windfall for everyone— U.K. tourism and retailers alike,” said Tonya Williams Bradford, a marketing expert at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, according to the Associated Press. “Unlike with the birth of their beautiful baby boy, where the attention turns to whose next on the throne, this baby girl will provide many style opportunities, as her mother and the late Lady Diana did before her.”
It should be noted that, economically speaking, the birth of Prince George seemed to inspire plenty of commerce. Two years ago, the first royal baby injected an estimated $368 million into the economy in the nine weeks after his birth- a phenomenon that went on to be known as the Prince George effect. George’s first fashion item – the aden + anais swaddle his parents brought him home for the hospital in inspired a craze that within hours of its appearance crashed the swaddle-maker’s website. The next day, it crashed again and over the course of the next week-and-a-half, orders for that items increased 600 percent.
“People, particularly Americans, love it,” said Pauline MacLaran, co-author of the upcoming book, “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.” ”It’s a fascination with a different kind of celebrity.”
George is both the firstborn and the heir to the throne – meaning most analysts are predicting a somewhat more muted “Princess Charlotte effect” – valued at about $121 million over the next nine weeks. This lower estimate caused the Daily Mail – The U.K.’s classiest paper – to dub the baby’s birth “a flop.” This led to one of the greatest rebuttals in history, as the Centre for Retail Research – the firm that released the $121 million estimate, defended their new princess against the Mail’s accusations.
“Indeed no wanted new baby can be described as a flop. It is not the purpose of monarchy to support the retail trade.”
And while the Centre (sic) is undeniably correct and no human being should be judged by their opening weekend take – it is also the case that most retail analysts in the U.K. just plainly think the Daily Mail is wrong. Royalty inspired commerce is a long game, and a little princess represents a tremendous opportunity in many parts of the economy.
“[Consumers] can go mad over all the girlie things,” noted MacLaran. “You don’t see little boys dressing up in prince outfits, but you see girls do it all the time.”
All in, analysts estimate that the new princess’ overall contribution to the U.K. economy will be around $227 million per year – mostly in fashion and beauty items.
“It’s more fun in general terms and cultural terms when you are dressing up a girl,” said Anusha Couttigane, a senior fashion consultant at Conlumino, a London-based retail research firm. “It’s just normal that girls attract more attention to fashion.”
Couttigane also noted that unlike some of their trendsetting royal forebearers – Prince William and Princess Kate have a reputation as “down to earth” royals with a habit of using widely available brands priced to a more closely (upper) middle-class budget than a royal one.
“I think she will mainly stick to traditional silhouettes … and, hopefully, continue supporting great British design,” said Catherine Hudson, beauty and fashion editor at Prima Baby magazine. Hudson further noted an expectation that Kate will continue to favor Pale Cloud — a Norwegian brand also popular with the Scandinavian royals.
However, while fashion and beauty are the go-to areas for expectation regarding the new princess, it is not the only area that is generating interest. George’s birth set off a small tourism boon to the U.K. in 2015 – and many are speculating that perhaps an even larger influx of tourism dollars will reach the British Isles following the latest birth.
“2013 saw London welcome 17 million international visitors, and forecasts show 2015 will see even more drawn to our capital,” noted Jace Tyrrell, Deputy Chief Executive at the New West End Company. “A royal birth always signals great pomp and pageantry, and it is when tourists see the U.K. at its very best. For the businesses and attractions which help shape the experience of visitors, it is a real privilege to be part of such a special event."
She added, “the economic boost which will undoubtedly accompany the birth of the nation’s new Princess will bring even more cheer to a city celebrating her historic arrival – and will further secure London’s place on the global stage."
And, it seems, Charlotte’s birth has already kicked off its first rush to a new “it” fashion item – before the princess had even managed her first public appearance.
The Amaia blue cardigan sweater that the princess’ older brother Prince George wore to meet his little sister for the first time has officially sold-out – though more will be available in about two weeks.
"We could not be happier that on this historic day, the birth of the first Royal Princess for a generation, that the Royal family should pick one of our designs to dress the Prince in as he makes his first visit to meet his new sister,” wrote brand founder Rachel Riley.