Graco Children’s Products Inc. is one of the best-known juvenile products companies in the world, manufacturing infant swings, baby strollers, car seats, travel systems that combine car seats and strollers, digital baby monitors and more. In October 2010, the company recalled two million older strollers—the largest recall of strollers ever—due to risk of entrapment and strangulation. In fact, Graco recalled a wave of children’s products in 2010, including 1.5 million strollers in January, for risk of fingertip amputation; 1.2 million high chairs in March, for risk of tipping over; and 217,000 cribs in April, for risk of strangulation.

Given those highly publicized recalls, we wondered what consumers would be saying about the company, so we did a netnography on Graco and its products.

Graco Positive Themes

“Great features” was the most common theme in the positive sound bites, with a wide range of features cited. One unexpected positive were the “gender neutral” comments, which might be an insight into design the company can use.

Here are several positive sound bites:

Willing to pay for quality, busy mom, safety conscious. comes with base, 5 point restraint, affordable, easy to get in and out of car, convenient to have Graco SnugRide -. I like the Graco SnugRide for the teeny tiny newborn stage. When babies can lift their heads, I prefer to use the convertible carseat. For the newborn stage, this carseat is nice because, you jostle the baby less getting in and out of the car. (source)

I like that I can remove the trays for my four year old and the sun shade for the baby is great. My graco snug-ride infant carrier snaps right on and I didn’t even buy them together. I would recommend all graco travel systems and carriers because they are compatible with each other. I also like that I can purchase replacement parts on Graco.com. I tore the basket underneath and was able to purchase a new one on-line. (source)

We’re not sure we’re going to have another child after this one, who’s a boy, but I went gender neutral in my choices anyway, just because I picked colors I liked. I went with a red stroller because I love red. And I picked the Graco carseat that’s orange and brown because I love the giraffes on it. I actually went back and forth because I plan to get the carseat adapter for the stroller and the carseat doesn’t really go with the stroller but I decided I didn’t care. I just really like the giraffes and I wasn’t willing to give up the red. (source)

Never underestimate the power of reviews to influence purchase decisions. “Best reviews,” Great reviews,” and “Consumer Reports” account for 11 percent of positive theme sound bites.

Graco Negative Themes

Product recall comments make up 10 percent of the negative sound bites, showing it’s an issue on consumers’ minds as they make purchase decisions. But the bulk of negative comments related to the products’ overall construction and maneuverability; for example, 53 percent called the strollers hard to maneuver, heavy or bulky.

Is your December 09 LO growing on the larger side or smaller side? My DS born in December 07 was always on the larger side (funny since he was born a month early)….anyhow…we took him to the stores when we were preggo with our DD and I would put him into the strollers and test drive them around the store. Graco’s are cheap, but are difficult to manuver with a heavier child in front. I could barely push it around. They have great storage space underneath….cup holders….etc. (source)

I’ve seen the Phil&Teds. I’ll have to look at it again. I’m not really interested in the Graco because it weights close to 40lbs. I tend to lean towards the lighter strollers. My only concern with the tandem strollers are that it seems, at least with the ones I’ve looked at, that the seats don’t recline that far and once the front one is reclined the baby in the back loses leg room. (source)

I purposely didn’t buy anything Evenflo because they had a history of recalls all the time… well now I regret buying all Graco because this is the second thing that I own that has been recalled from them… (source)

If one or more of the features mentioned is important to you, then a Graco product may be the right choice. But if you’re shopping for a stroller and maneuverability is essential, other consumers feel there are better choices.

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