The baby watch has ended and ... it's a boy!
The Duchess of Sussex, better known as Meghan Markle, yesterday gave birth to the British monarchy's first mixed-race child. Retailers around the country are set to see their cash registers ring amid the celebrations.
Meghan, 37, went into labor in the early hours of Monday morning with Prince Harry, 34, by her side, according to Buckingham Palace. Their son's name has yet to be released and it is unclear if he will receive a royal title.
The new arrival will be the seventh in line to the British throne, behind the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and his three children, as well as his father the Duke of Sussex. The highly-anticipated birth of "Baby Sussex" is likely to spur demand in the U.S. for more British products, given his parents' popularity on both sides of the Atlantic.
The royal family is one of Britain's biggest brands and was estimated to be worth around $88 billion in 2017. According to a report by global valuation firm Brand Finance, this is due to "tangible" earnings from the Crown Estate, "as well as the monarchy’s indirect effect on various industries, such as tourism, trade, media and arts."
The "intangible" benefits also stem from "royal warrants and coats of arms, benefits enjoyed by charities and institutions under royal patronage, the advertising value of extra coverage for Brand Britain in global media, and the commercial boost experienced by British brands informally endorsed by members of the royal family."
"The economic benefits generated by the Monarchy come at a very low expense to the British nation, equal to only £4.50 ($6) per person per year or just over one pence a day," the report said. In comparison, Brand Finance projects that each of the royal children will generate billions of dollars in value for the U.K. economy during their lifetimes.
However, it is Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby that has generated perhaps the most buzz, starting long before he was born. British bookmakers had to close or suspend some betting pools on the baby's name and gender due to overwhelming interest. As this article goes to publication, bets are still being made on its name, with Arthur, James and Alexander leading the way.
Royal baby effect
Londoner Daniel Price co-founded the personalized baby gifting service My 1st Years nearly a decade ago and is currently expanding into the U.S., which he calls a "tough market." His company gained global recognition after a picture of Prince George meeting former President Obama, while dressed in one of their robes, went viral.
"We sold out of that product within seven minutes of it going online," Price said. "We sold as many as one per second right at the beginning. This had a massive global impact for the brand. The U.S. resonated with the brand more than any other country. That's when we thought 'this is incredible — the effect of the royal baby is amazing, and this should be the launch pad for My 1st Years.'"
He now counts top American celebrities like Beyoncé, Chrissy Teigen and some of the Kardashians among his customers.
"Meghan Markle is from the U.S. and she had a massive global reach before becoming part of the royal family," said Price. "Everyone loves her over in the U.S., and of course everyone loves Kate Middleton, as well, but this feels like it's on another level in terms of scale and anticipation."
Price's team created gifts for the birth of each of Prince William's three children and says it has "helped the business every time."
"Each time you see a nice lift in sales, because the whole world goes royal-baby crazy," he said. "And everyone's been waiting for Harry to settle down and have a baby, and I think everyone's excited about that."
British premium nursery brand Mamas & Papas also saw an increase in sales of children's clothing and occasion wear following a royal birth.
“We witnessed one of the busiest weekends of the year when Prince George was born," said Mamas & Papas marketing director, Tom Hampson. "Now, we can’t wait to see Harry and Meghan’s progressive take on parenting – we predict exciting things."
Official merchandise released by the Royal Family to commemorate the birth sold out straight away. This included a $164 (£125) teddy bear by Merrythought. Only 100 of the handmade bears were made.
There's more to chew on. From today, Whole Foods will start selling a commemorative cheddar cheese called '"Royal Addition" to mark the birth. Made in Southwest England, the Westminster Royal Mark red cheddar has been colored to match Prince Harry's ginger hair.
Price, at My 1st Years, said his team has been spent several months putting together a gift set for "Baby Sussex" that will include non-traditional and gender neutral items. He told me this includes some personalized Wellington boots, blankets, robes and some "really cool" personalized toys.
"The gender neutral range has been quite a big part of the business over the last couple of years," he told me. "But we're just scratching the surface."
“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VABEFORE YOU GO