Axios Pro: Retail Deals

January 30, 2023

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1 big thing: Babylist focuses on content with Expectful deal

Illustration of a baby mobile made of money, coins and trending arrows.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Babylist's acquisition of Expectful, a health and wellness app for expecting and newly minted parents, will expand its content offerings and deepen its relationship with its customers, its CEO Natalie Gordon tells Richard.

Why it matters: In retail, content is increasingly king — and when done effectively, it not only helps customers navigate choosing products and services, it also builds shopper trust.

Details: Gordon says she first encountered Expectful two years ago when it was raising money and was impressed with the startup's deck, and efforts to deepen its relationship with its customers.

  • Last fall, the two parties began discussing what a deeper relationship might look like.
  • Gordon sees Expectful as Babylist's long-term growth channel and plans to evolve it from app-based to web-based as it integrates with Babylist's other business.
  • Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Between the lines: "We see ourselves as audience first," Gordon says, noting that Babylist has created a guide for making product decisions and invested in its presence on the social media platform TikTok, where it has nearly 1 million followers.

  • Similar to Babylist, Expectful helps its customers make health and wellness decisions, she says.
  • Expectful also offers a subscription for meditation exercises for pregnancy and health and wellness content that focuses on the stressful periods of attempting to conceive and postpartum depression, Gordon explains.
  • For example, Expectful offers a different meditation for each day of a person's pregnancy.

State of play: Consumers like seeing products in person, Gordon notes, and would go to a store such as Buybuy Baby to browse its offerings and make last-minute purchases.

  • But the product-first approach can be overwhelming for new parents, who are in need of information, she says.
  • There's a more modern way of experiencing products than what the big box stores offer, Gordon emphasizes.

What's next: Babylist's next initiative will be to increase its service offerings, complementing products and content.

  • While additional M&A isn't planned, "a year ago I did not think we would make any acquisitions, and we made two," Gordon says.

Meanwhile, Gordon says the company is weighing all its options on raising capital or a liquidity event, including a sale, IPO, or additional private capital.

  • She declined to disclose further details.

Of note: As we previously reported, Babylist generated more than $240 million in revenue in 2021 and grew double-digits last year, Gordon says.

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