"It is not enough to offer a good product but it is also necessary to provide a good shopping experience”
Alessandro Petrelli, commercial director at Silver Cross in Europe
Silver Cross was founded in Britain in 1877 and is specialized in prams and buggies. In fact, the founder of the company is considered the creator of the modern pram, combining his suspension system with a reversible hood. Today, the company operates worldwide, not only adapting to the tastes of each market, as Alessandro Petrelli, Commercial Director at
Silver Cross for Europe, explains, but also to new trends such as the rise of online sales.
Which are the current trends in prams and strollers?
There are currently two types of trends in the field of cars and chairs. On one side there is innovation and constant research for innovative products and concepts that add value to families and do not focus solely on aesthetics. In recent years there has been an attempt to incorporate to pram designs elements from other sectors such as pneumatic tires and disc brakes, but without success, mainly because of after-sales problems. So now companies seek precisely to reduce these problems, innovating in key areas such as the comfort of children, thanks to increasingly versatile seating, or looking for models that are easier to handle, using lighter and modern materials.
Research is also being done in folding systems, so that they are more convenient and compact. Last but above all, and as a priority when researching, is everything related with safety, with all kind of innovations and advanced techniques.
On the other hand, companies want to find solutions that helps families to save money, especially given the current economic climate. Brands and manufacturers are striving to reduce costs and provide quality products at increasingly affordable prices. Solutions are sought to prolong the durability of the products, and articles are also available with various functions. One example is the Silver Cross Baby Nest. This is a proprietary gearbox that allows the use of the stroller from birth, without a carrycot.
Silver Cross is present throughout the world: baby products are becoming increasingly homogeneous or differences remain between countries and regions?
Silver Cross is present in over 40 countries and we find that there are significant differences not only between continents but also between countries within the same continent. These differences are both aesthetic and technical. For example, in Asia there is a clear preference for bright and electric colours, while in Europe consumers opt for warmer colours or pastel shades. The same goes for design: in Europe consumers prefer minimalist designs while in the Middle East or Latin America the designs with symbols are quite successful.
How do you think the sector could evolve in the coming years?
The childcare sector has to adapt and provide solutions to changes and new needs of families. Currently families have children later, and in the case of having more than one, the age difference between them is smaller, hence the large number of product innovations such as twin chairs or chair models that combine carrycots. The forecast is that this phenomenon will continue over the coming years.
At the same time, migration to large cities makes people live in urban environments, with houses of smaller size and smaller cars, which translates into a need for space-saving compact product.
Also, families today move and travel more regularly, which means that there is a greater demand for light products, easy to fold and install.
Moreover, the growth of online sales is forcing a rethink on the classical concepts of distribution and marketing, so it is essential to integrate this new sales channel in the overall business strategy. Internet allows for greater transparency in pricing. Brands have to have all these elements under control to provide an image, service and products to match the values they want to convey, and also to see first hand the demands of consumers.
Finally, another element to consider is the need for brands to deliver a comprehensive service at both stores and end users. It is not enough just to offer a product with good value for money, but it is also necessary to meet delivery times, offer a suitable replacement service, and provide quick and satisfactory after-sales solutions as well as an impeccable customer service. All this accompanied by a marketing communication strategy responsible for spreading the values of the brand, which should also be reflected at the point of sale.
In short, families today are increasingly demanding and have more information at the time of purchase, so it is not enough to offer a good product but it is also necessary to provide a good shopping experience, so that the client leaves with the feeling that he has chosen the right product. Hence the importance of offering a complete service.
Silver Cross in Spain is fortunate to count with Caerbaby, a distributor with an established and significant experience that has managed to excellently implement the concept of integrated service.
Have you noticed changes in shopping habits of households, given the economic context?
There is no doubt that the current crisis is having a significant impact on shopping habits, especially in Europe and Spain, where the economic situation is especially delicate. We have seen various types of behaviour due to the crisis:
a) Families with limited purchasing power look for the best deal and the lowest price. The direct consequence is a price war in low-end and intermediate products. In addition, online commerce further feeds this phenomenon, significantly harming traditional stores, oriented to a quality service. It is the responsibility of brands and distributors to ensure that this phenomenon does not spread, maintaining strict control over pricing and marketing.
b) In the upper-middle range we are also witnessing less instinctive purchases, so accessories and products that are not critical are being less bought. In contrast, families who still want to buy a quality product, are becoming more demanding and are willing to spend extra money if they are convinced that the product offers the sought quality. As I mentioned earlier, consumers are increasingly looking for value for money, impeccable customer service and a satisfying shopping experience.