The royal baby business boom: How it will effect SMEs

Royal baby hysteria has reached fever pitch with even the Queen admitting she wishes the baby would hurry up. While U.S news sites are overflowing with headlines claiming the heir will cause a gigantic business boom in the UK, British business seem less convinced. The public are undoubtedly more fascinated by gender, potential names and due date, rather than the economy.

The benefits
A countless range of royal baby merchandise (including the royal baby sick bag) is now available. Its clear retailers of all kinds want to profit from the future heir. Even the Buckingham Palace gift shop is getting in on the act, promising an official range of merchandise to celebrate the birth.

Consequently, the new arrival is expected to not only offer betting shops and fashion giants a much welcome boost, but allow smaller companies a real chance to thrive this summer. New research published by the Centre of Retail Research (CRR) estimate the future monarch will immediately boost the UK economy by a whopping £243 million – equivalent to almost £4 million a day between July 1 and August 31. SMEs could have a slice of this big cash sum if they play their cards right.

It’s not only SME clothing retailers that will benefit from the new arrival. Sales of prams and pushchairs are estimated to rise by 13 per cent in the next year, an increase of £33 million.

Meanwhile, Brits will celebrate by splurging out on £62 million worth of alcohol. CRR research predicts three million bottles of champagne and sparkling wine will be consumed, a total of 2.3 million litres.

Furthermore, the sales from memorabilia, including commemorative china and collectables are set to reach £24 million.

Stock-on-Trent SME, Royal Crown Trent China, recognise a great opportunity when they see one. The new arrival is being celebrated by the British manufacturer with the production of a fine bone china children’s tableware set. Illustrated by designer Milly Green, the ceramics feature storks, pram, rocking horse, teddy and even the royal dogs and already received notable interest in the press both in the UK and internationally.

The ‘Kate effect’
Since Kate and Will’s big day just over two years ago the world has been struck by ‘Cambridge fever’ as the couple feature in almost weekly feel good stories in the media. Tabloids document her charitable visits, while fashion magazines eagerly offer ways to get ‘Kate’s look’, praising her normal and inexpensive style.

Robert Moss, chief marketing officer at members only shopping SME SecretSales, says: “The Kate effect is a hugely powerful and priceless marketing tool that retailers have already been taking advantage of for several years.

“As a designer fashion flash sale site, we have on several occasions experienced the Kate effect firsthand. When Kate is seen wearing particular outfits, sales of similar garments on SecretSales have been known to increase by up to 150 per cent. The royal baby is no exception.”

SecretSales predict the range of children’s wear available will experience a peak in interest as they look to Kate for inspiration.

“Although it can be difficult to pre-determine what style Kate will decide to dress her new baby in, a clever marketing campaign and a keen fashion eye should ensure that retailers can continue to benefit from the royal frenzy,” adds Moss.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of CRR, agrees with SecretSale’s CMO: “One of the biggest factors will be the unintentional royal brand endorsement. The carriage of choice for the royal arrival will no doubt become this year’s best selling pram for new and existing parents.

“The Kate effect has already taken the fashion world by storm with each of her choices flying off the shelves within moments of her leaving the house. This trend will follow for the heirs baby grows, rattles, first bike and so on. It’s a culture of ‘keeping up with the Cambridge’s’ that isn’t going away, albeit a very profitable culture for the retail sector.”

Seize the day
With royal baby hysteria sweeping across the world, is there any chance (perhaps due to the increased alcohol consumption) we have all just become a little over excited?

While the US are convinced the UK will experience a giant business boom, which statistics seem to prove, SMEs need to be quick off the mark to reap any profit.

The retail industry is still struggling, small to medium outlets more so, a point recently highlighted by Mothercare’s CEO. Despite, the baby and children’s store announcing it is planning a pram in the design of the royal horse drawn carriage its CEO has played down the idea of a royal baby business boom: “We don’t necessarily see a huge uptick in activity for our business.

“We expect it to continue to be tough. There are still a large number of people unemployed and the High Street is still struggling.”

So, the question remains will the royal baby be a catalyst for a much needed business boom, or will the CRR’s research be disproved? Ultimately it’s down to SME business leaders to seize the day, and in this instance only time will tell… there’s not long to wait now.