The baby merchandise market is huuuuuuuge. Looking after a baby is an expensive business and all of the big baby brands want you to be spending that money with them, as opposed to anyone else. They'll go to great lengths to get you to try, and become loyal to their brand. Baby clubs are their way of doing this – they offer you freebies and marketing material to tempt you to spend money with them; hoping that by offering you a sample, you'll try it, love it, and come back to them time after time. They cover their tracks by offering you tips, advice and support throughout motherhood, but in many cases it is just thinly disguised sales material plugging a specific brand and much of the advice they offer can be found, in greater detail, from other resources.
Me, I'm not much of a big-brand person myself – I hate supermarkets (what they stand for, and the fact that they make me so stressed that I tend to hyperventilate half way round and go home without any of the things I went out for); I like to give my love to the independents both locally, and online. But, just because I don't do the supermarket, big-brand thing, doesn't mean that baby clubs won't work for me as well as it would for those of you who do regularly use your local supermarkets and high street. I take advantage of their offers WHEN and IF they suit me. Occasionally, the free samples, the reading material, or forums provided by baby clubs turn out to be EXACTLY what you're looking for. I've found at least one piece of advice, however small, in each mailing I receive that I haven't seen elsewhere, and I grudgingly admit that I have been converted by one or two of the free samples.
Baby clubs are designed to encourage brand loyalty. One of the best ways to make sure that you don't blindly follow the direction they're pushing you in is to join them all! The more clubs you join, the more freebies you get, the more products you can try for free, and the more variety you have when it comes to choosing the baby products that are right for you. If you sign up to all of the baby clubs, you'll be inundated with discount vouchers for standard baby bits such as disposable nappies, wipes, cosmetics and weaning foods. Try not to be sucked in - shop clever. Only buy the products on offer if you were planning on buying them anyway and check all of your vouchers to find the retailer who will offer you the best discount.
In general, baby clubs will offer you free samples (or vouchers for them), discount vouchers, competitions and leaflets with tips/advice/reviews. Baby clubs run by stores will often offer members special offers or preferential rates for their loyalty card scheme. Most clubs have an online presence these days where there will inevitably be discussion forums, further reading material and more competition opportunities. If you are interested in entering competitions, watch out for Lesson 3 where I'll tell you more about winning your free baby goodies.
Below I have listed most of the baby clubs that I have come across which offer free goodies. If you know of any more, add them in the comments below this post – Thanks!
- Tesco Baby & Toddler Club offer quarterly newsletters with recipes, competitions, articles and lots of discount vouchers, along with the occasional small free sample or voucher for a freebie in store.
- Sainsburys Little Ones offer much the same, including a Huggies Mum and Baby set OR 1000 nectar points when you join.
- Boots Parenting Club as above, but they offer more frequent vouchers for total freebies, and they have great advantage card offers for members.
- Babies R Us tend to only offer discount vouchers but they also have a reward card which offers money-off your purchases.
- Pampers send free samples at different stages in your baby's development, and regular discount vouchers.
- Bounty are well known for the bags of freebies that they hand out in hospital, but don't forget that you are also entitled to a similar bag half way through your pregnancy, and one when your child reaches weaning age. Bounty bags usually offer the best range of baby freebies with examples being bottles of smellies for mum, jars of food, several nappies, drinks, washing liquid/tablets and baby wipes. If you are not offered a Bounty bag by your midwife, then you can register for the club online and they will email you the voucher for your bag when the time comes. The online club also offers lots of competitions, discounts and the occasional freebie (plus postage and packing).
- Emma's Diary is very similar to Bounty in the freebies that they offer. There are three bags available, one at the start of pregnancy, one half way through, and one when your baby is born. I found their contents to be of better quality than the Bounty bags, but disappointing in quantity! The Emma's Diary website is a veritable feast of competitions, special offers and discount codes. Currently they are offering £40 of Argos vouchers for mums-to-be who sign up.
Even if you are planning to breast feed, it can make sense to join the baby clubs of the formula and baby food companies. Not all of the freebies that they offer are samples, and if you do decide to move to bottle, the reading material they send out can help you decide which brand to go with (which is kinda their goal, after all).
- Aptamil offer a free cuddly toy when you sign up.
- Cow & Gate offer a cuddly toy, vouchers and samples at different stages in your baby's development.
- Heinz - I've only just joined them so I'm not sure what goodies will come my way.
Lesson 3 – Winning Ways
Lesson 4 – Offer Your Views
Lesson 5 – Great Ways to Get Something for Nothing
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Lesson 1 – Second Hand, Not Second Rate