Friday, January 21, 2011

Have you heard of Hot Mama?

Have you heard of Hot Mama? No, we aren't talking about some new reality television show, nor are we describing a new segment on the Howard Stern radio program. Hot Mama is a fast-growing Minneapolis-based retailer which targets young mothers who want to dress fashionably. The retailer's 17 stores generated over $15 million in sales last year according to this Fast Company magazine article.

What's novel about this concept? The store doesn't just offer attractive apparel. It provides a complete experience that is tailored to the young mom. Specifically, the store provides an entertaining experience for the children, so that the mom can actually shop for clothes without constantly being distracted, or without having to rush. Hot Mama provides toys, coloring books, video games, and movies to entertain kids. The layout of the store makes it easy for moms to shop, while not losing sight of their little ones. The store associates, known as stylists, also have been trained to specifically help moms find clothes that work well with their particular body type. Moreover, the store associates help to watch over the children as the moms try on clothes.

Does the concept work? According to the article, each mom spends one hour per visit to the store. That metric is astounding to me. In most retailers, moms with young children struggle to rush through the store quickly. At Hot Mama, they've found a way to provide an environment whereby the mother can take her time, and as we all suspect, the more time in the store, the more likely that customers will spend. It will be interesting to watch to see whether the concept can be scaled up successfully, as well as how other apparel retailers respond.

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