People Still Spend on Pets, Kids and Possibly Snot

Partners at Chicago-based 2X Consumer Products concluded a tour of four trade shows in the past month to scope out compelling consumer products startups. And they found that –despite the recession and it’s-chic-to-be-cheap mentality of American consumers – we’re still willing to spend more on certain products.

In particular, while adults may be spending less on themselves, the same is not true for their kids or their pets. Or, as 2X Managing Partner Andrew Whitman puts it  “After all, babies still do their business even when the broader business environment is more challenged. That analogy applies to many sectors in the consumer products world, including babies, pets and natural products.”

Whitman says the tour of the All Baby & Child Expo, SuperZoo pet show, ExpoEast and ExpoWest natural products shows unearthed a number of compelling finds. In particular, he was intrigued by a backpack that transforms into a crib, a lower priced “premium” pet food business, a sustainably produced tilapia fish supplier, and a maker of baby-bottle warmers with fashionable cow-print “bottle socks.” The award for best-name, however, has to go to the Nosefrida “snotsucker” – a device that applies suction to remove mucus from a child’s nose.

No word yet on whether 2X is planning to back any of those companies. The Chicago-based firm raised $20 million for a growth capital fund focused on consumer products earlier this year. Its first announced deal was an investment of an undisclosed amount in gDiapers, which makes compostable diapers. The firm will write checks of $1 million to $5 million in first commitments in branded consumer product companies that may later take an additional follow-on investment.

(Read Andrew’s full trade show report here)