However, one brand—bumGenius—is looking into the future by taking a swipe at the past, reintroducing cloth diapers to families across the globe. The brand was launched in 2005 after several years of developmental stages in a home business. The brand’s first retail store opened in 2006 and by 2008 bumGenius’ fulfillment center had already doubled in size. Today bumGenius products are made both in the US and Egypt and are distributed in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. The brand’s product line consists of one-size, all-in-one, bamboo-fitted diapers as well as bamboo and flannel wipes and cleaning accessories.
Cloth diapers are hardly a new technology. They were used in some form in the beginning of the 19th century. But by the early 20th century the disposable diaper drive swelled, and in 1949 Proctor & Gamble gave the US market the first diaper that today’s consumer would recognize as disposable. The market changed instantly, and the cloth product that had endured was replaced by an efficient, cost-effective landfill polluter.
Sixty years later consumers are once again discovering cloth diapers, and bumGenius is filling the growing demand. Jennifer Labit, owner of Cotton Babies, Inc. and creator of the bumGenius line, says, “The biggest opportunity we have in front of us is the quickly turning tide of public opinion in favor of cloth diapers. More and more families are turning to reusable products in the face of a tough economic situation or simply because they want to make a less wasteful product choice for their family.”
The brand does sell through retail locations, but relies heavily on the Internet for sales. While many consumers may buy bumGenius diapers from an online baby product retailer (Amazon.com, for example), there is a good chance that, at around US$ 30 a pair, many parents are going straight to the source: bumGenius.com.
The bumGenius website should be credited for its clean approach; it is, after all, a brand that must avoid a messy appearance. A large amount of white space accomplishes this. And the color scheme could not be more “baby.”
A website promoting a cloth diaper brand faces a couple of roadblocks, even with the most environmentally sensitive new-age parent. First, there is the lack of sexiness that many “green” products boast, such as the Prius or some other self-congratulatory earth-friendly brands that one can smugly showoff to acquaintances. The bumGenius website should be credited with its straightforward approach and with not trying to hype the brand into something it is not: a diaper is a diaper, and bumGenius.com refrains from making any politically correct statements or overtly saintly claims.
Next is the diaper’s not-so-glamorous, um, “footprint.” Giving up 100 horsepower in exchange for fuel efficiency and saving Al Gore’s tears is a far easier sacrifice than having to—or not having to—deal with fresh feces. So how does a website make consumers feel good about exposing themselves to poop? Marketing. Selling shit, after all, is what marketing is all about.
Marketing by means of education is the answer. Unfortunately, this is an area where bumGenius.com could do better.
The bumGenius website should be educating potential customers on two fronts. The first is underscoring that its product is very environmentally friendly. And sometimes, like in presidential elections, you promote yourself by highlighting the competition’s failings. True “green” champions know how effective statistics can be. For example, estimates suggest a baby will use about 5,000 disposable diapers in his or her infancy, which amounts to nearly 28 billion diapers nationally or 3.4 million tons of annual landfill waste. The Environmental Protection Agency says this figure is about 2.1 percent of total US waste. And that was from the agency’s last study…in 1998. This says nothing of the toxic manufacturing process.