The Elephant in the Room: ABDLs
Very early on after launching www.Healthwick.ca, one of our customer care reps turned to me and said: "I have an online chat customer. He wants to know if we're ABDL-aware?"
Clearly at this point I was NOT, since I'd never heard the acronym before, so I responded, "Hold on, let me Google it...."
ABDL (or the more accurate AB/DL) stands for Adult Baby Diaper Lover - a community of people who either enjoy play acting as babies, enjoy wearing diapers, or both. For some, it has sexual connotations (it's commonly described as a fetish). For others, there's an element of returning to childhood that is completely non-sexual. And for others (particularly those who genuinely need to wear adult diapers for medical/health reasons), there's simply an appreciation of the engineering and performance of absorbent briefs.
"Okay," I said, taking a deep breath, "Well, tell him we're now ABDL-aware and ask how we can help him."
Flash-forward to 2016. Healthwick is Canada's largest online retailer of incontinence products, and so we've found we have a lot of ABDL customers. Certainly not the majority or even a large minority, but a significant percentage. But no one knows about it! In fact, I mentioned our "ABDL customers" to our sales rep of a major national incontinence brand last week, and got a completely blank stare in return. She had no idea what I was talking about.
We thought it was time to recognize them and share some of the things we've learned about our AB/DL customers:
1) Like every customer group, there are good folks and there are bad folks. The good folks are pretty much like everyone else - enthusiastic when they find a product they like, appreciative of our selection and advice, and they ask smart questions when we introduce new products.
The bad folks make our staff quite uncomfortable - they try to engage us in self-gratifying chatter/role play (I once had a caller ask if he could call me Mommy - NO). Our staff are as practical as possible and we try to use straight-forward clinical terms when talking about continence care, so when we get a caller or online chat that goes in this direction "just for the fun of it", it feels disrespectful of our time.
The worst (ABDL or otherwise) are when a customer uses suggestive, vulgar, juvenile or sexual language. Ugh. These are the minority, thank goodness, but it's easy to spot and we have a policy to end these conversations when we have to.
2) They're concerned about privacy. Discretion has always been a big part of the Healthwick mission statement. Incontinence is a private matter, and many people are embarrassed to be buying continence care products. But AB/DL customers are also often hiding their purchases from family members or roommates. We were actually really thrilled when Canada Post announced Flex Delivery because it solved a lot of concerns for ABDLs in this situation.
3) They can write great product reviews. Because they're enthusiastic about the product and they tend to have tried just about everything on the market, AB/DL customers know a lot about adult diapers and some of them are great, thoughtful, objective writers. Several of our most interesting and insightful product reviews have been written by ABDLs.
The point is that not only do AB/DLs exist, they're an active, meaningful, and often vocal segment of our purchasers. We had no idea when we started Healthwick, and unless you're one, you probably didn't either until you read this.
Yes, it's certainly not a mainstream interest, and no, we don't have any staff that are members of the community, but we're here to provide practical, professional and friendly service. We strive to make buying incontinence products easy and discreet for everyone.
For our ABDL customers, we don't think it's weird that you want to go to the site that has the best selection and discretion to buy a product that's important to you (who wouldn't?). And, of course, we appreciate it when you don't make it weird for us to provide you with the best service we can, because after all, we're here to help.
For our policy on ABDL customer support, click here
For our American friends, unfortunately Healthwick doesn't ship to the US at this time. Can we suggest Diaper Drawer for ABDL products?