Among the many things I remember about the arrival of our first child (and second) those many years ago is the arrival of baby gear. In no time at all, our serene living space was chock-a-block with the clutter of bassinets and bouncy seats, pack n’ plays and strollers, high chairs and Fisher Price toys. Like many parents whose children have left the nest, some of these things are quietly gathering dust in our basement keeping company with long-neglected exercise equipment.
To be sure, babies are very cute. The oodles of stuff they require (or their parents think they require), not so much. The time spent reviewing the latest products, the money spent, and the aforementioned basements filled with outdated paraphernalia can be frustrating. But, generation to generation, the way families have geared up for these tiny instigators has seemed pretty much the only way – until this generation of parents came along. It is a demographic not only accustomed to doing things differently, the result of technological, societal, and cultural shifts, but open to opportunities to make the experiences of everyday life easier and more satisfying.
This mindset is one factor driving the fast-growing number of “experience disruptors” dominating today’s market. These businesses are providing value, and enjoying incredible success, not by transforming products, but by transforming how we do the things we do every day. They are identifying ways to make these daily routines meaningfully different and better. They are rethinking, disrupting, and delivering innovative new approaches to how we travel, shop, invest, hold meetings, keep our wardrobes current, feed our pets, get healthcare and, yes, prepare for life with a new baby. This focus on the consumer experience, not solely on product, has enabled these businesses to drive remarkable growth, increase customer loyalty and, in many cases, to create totally new marketplace categories.
Back to talk of babies, Loop is one of the newest members of the family of experience disruptors, joining Airbnb, Chewy, Stitch Fix, BetterHelp, Zoom and a host of others whose founders identified a way to meaningfully change up the stuff of daily life. The stress of knowing what products to get, the wasted money, the quickly-outgrown gear, were problems that Henry Vogel, the founder of Loop knew inherently. The father of four children, he looked at his situation, looked at the category, and saw an opportunity that others had overlooked. He realized that most new parents accumulate a lot of stuff that has a much longer life in the world than it has in their home. Other companies had great success going the “rental route,” he asked himself, why not the durable baby goods market?
Loop’s full-service membership model allows families to rent top-rated toys and baby gear with none of the challenges of reviewing and sourcing, nor the difficulties of purchase and set-up. They enjoy the convenience, confidence and flexibility of trying and using multiple items when they need them without the hassle, cost or environmental impact of ownership. Its members are part of the growing community of parents for whom sustainability is a critical motivator. By renting, not buying, they are also demonstrating an awareness of the benefits of the sharing economy, a business model that is fast gaining traction among across multiple categories.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Ali Weiss, who recently succeeded Henry Vogel as chief executive officer of Loop, about the company, and specifically its emphasis on sustainability. “Before its launch, the team was doing research about early family formation,” she told me. “They found that this new generation of parents is more minimalist. They want less clutter. They care less about stuff, want a different energy in their homes, and are much more engaged in experiences. More than this, they are used to participating in circular economies. They are interested in and excited about sharing. We think of the word “Loop” as a verb. The items in our inventory are looped many times, used by many families, reaching their full potential before being retired.”
While the idea that baby gear and toys can be passed along, lent by one family to another, is not new, Loop makes the process far more convenient and, as Ali said, “high-touch.” “It’s not just rental. There is an inherent emotional component to our mission. We’re very focused on the curation aspect of the business. The one-to-one. We’ve created an experience wherein we help people determine what’s right for them, lowering the risk of having them end up with the wrong product. As a mom of two daughters, I immediately understood the values of Loop’s mission, not just to give parents back time and money to invest in their families, but to help them feel more confident that they’re making the best decisions.”
Loop launched in March 2021 and, since then the company has seen consistent double-digit growth in its membership base, tripling this base since the start of the year. A great many of Loop’s new consumers can be attributed to word-of-mouth recommendations, a key factor in the company’s rising success. “Our proof of concept is in the Loop experience,” Ali said. “Word of mouth is probably the most essential marketing tool when it comes to parents. There are any number of critical touch points that can make or break the experience – the products, the logistics, the warehousing, the customer care. You can have a great value proposition, but if you’re not delivering on it, it’s not worth it. Our goal is to make the Loop experience extraordinary.”
The Loop experience, in and of itself, is very good reason for the company’s success. So, too, is the fact that today’s parents are not doing things the same way as have past generations. Consumers, in general, are growing increasingly accustomed to lifestyle solutions fueled by ease, technology and greater convenience. This is why experience disruption as a business model is dominating more and more categories. While we are all creatures of habit, we can be convinced to change if someone gives us a good reason to do so. Loop, like so many other businesses today, is doing just that. In its case, making parenting simpler, and simply more enjoyable.