Royal Baby No. 2: Why the Economy Hopes It's a Girl
When Prince George was born, Britain collectively freaked out. Understandably so: As the first-born of Prince William and Kate Middleton, little George is a direct heir to the throne. The hype was large, as was the corresponding economic bump, which by some estimates added up to $400 million to the British economy.
Today, the Royal Family announced that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. Clearly, people are still interested (the Guardian tried to live blog the announcement and corresponding reactions to it).
But will they care as much? And will the economic impact– in memorabilia, baby items, tourism and even booking fees –of the arrival of this unnamed child, the 'spare to the heir,' be anywhere near what it was for Prince George's birth? Will the hype cycle be as intense?
That all depends on whether the child is a boy or a girl, says marketing expert Laura Ries.
"Gender is going to make all the difference -- if the baby is a girl, it's going to be enormous news," she says, noting that there hasn’t been a female "blood royal" since the 1920s, when Queen Elizabeth was born. (Princess Diana, of course, had two boys: William and Harry).
For the media – who arguably create much of the frenzied hype – a little girl "offers a whole new angle." For businesses, a princess provides the opportunity to sell pink merchandise alongside Prince George's baby blue memorabilia.
And then there are the clothes. "Boys' clothes are not that exciting," Ries says. "Girls' clothing, though? It's a whole other galaxy."
Unlike celebrities, who try and shield their children from the press, "the royals are different," says Ries. "They are part of the public eye," which means we'll probably see a steady stream of baby/toddler outfits from brands that typically don't get much exposure.
More importantly, if the baby is a girl, she has the potential to make a lifelong impact on the fashion industry. Consider the 'Kate Effect' i.e. the fact that every time the Duchess of Cambridge is photographed in a particular design, the item generally sells out within minutes. (Color choices are similarly impacted by the 'Kate Effect': If she wears a green dress, green dress sales have been known to suddenly skyrocket on eBay). According to Newsweek article from 2012, "'The Kate Effect'" may be worth £1 billion to the U.K. fashion industry.
Ries concedes that if the baby is a boy, "it won't be the end of the world." At the end of the day, "everyone loves a baby -- for it to be a girl would just be icing on the cake."