Sunday, October 02, 2011

UrbanMom Salon: This blowdry comes with babysitting

Marketing to moms has become a lot more sophicated and nuanced than it used to be. Or is it just that moms are more sophisticated?

No matter. The point is that speaking to moms (who make the lion's share of household buying decisions) is no longer a one way street, with Madison Avenue pitching images of the perfect housewife to legions of potential Hoover, Frigidaire and Jell-O purchasers. Read the NY Times' recent article, Pitching to Real Moms, the Ones Who Aren't Perfect, which quotes Leo Burnett Chief Creative Officer Susan Credle (my boss's boss's boss).

When it comes to converting moms to customers, one of the smartest decisions a business can make is to listen to what moms want. Ever since I visited Portland, Oregon with a 10-month old (6 years ago now), I've bemoaned Chicago's lack of family-focused spas and coffee shops. Zenana Spa in Portland offers child care while moms get themselves pampered and plenty of West Coast coffeehouses boast a playroom (or corner) where small children can play while their otherwise socially-isolated parents hang out.

Well, Chicago finally has a spa for moms! UrbanMom Salon on Damen, offers hair, nail and waxing services while your children are well cared for by a babysitter from Chicago Nannies (brand synergy!) in a nicely-outfitted, secured playroom (or "playoasis," as they like to call it). Because they're brand new and looking to build buzz, I was offered a complimentary blowout this weekend. I took my 4-year old along, and while she looked a little shy as she was introduced to the nanny on duty, she begged me not to make her leave one hour later. And while there was lots for little kids (tunnels, kitchen, trains, art supplies and bubbles to name a few diversions), the management wisely included a Wii to entertain older children. Child care is $7 for the first child and $4 for siblings.

But as nice as it is to be able to bring your kids along, are the services up to par? It takes a lot to break up with one's stylist and put your head in someone else's hands. I'm happy to report I was thrilled with the blow dry I received. Even though I said I typically have my stylist tame my curls with a blow dry followed by a flat iron, stylist/manager Tara convinced me to go with a wavier round-brush blowout.

I got a lot of compliments!
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Incidentally, UrbanMom Salon is very close to Little Beans Cafe, a family-focused coffee shop with an elaborate indoor playspace.