Marketing to Mom
Marketing Secrets: Why Didn't I Think of That?

Marketing: Not All Women Are Moms

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

Yvonne makes excellent points in her recent post, Marketing to Mom, to not forget the Moms.  They do, in fact, make most of the decisions in a family.  Eve the Big Bad poobah CEO throws his weight around...and then goes home and lets the wife take care of everything else - from what house they buy to where the kids go to school to what car(s) they drive to retirement planning.  (And increasingly the wife is coming home from her own poobah position.)

Images Now, I love Moms - even though I don't have kids - I've got one of my own and several friends who are terrific Mothers.  However,  marketers are (still) all too ready to see women as June Cleaver, with a male mate, 2.5 kids, the station wagon, a dog...and her biggest concern being waxy build-up. All of which were often erroneous assumptions even back in the "good old days" of the 50s.  And - sigh - I'm sure the politicos will be doing the whole pandering, patronizing Soccer Mom spin in 2008.   

Then, we get it from the youngsters. For example, one could infer from Bea Field's posts at Guerrilla Marketing that us baby boomer femmes don't grok web marketing (Oh, wow! A L'Oreal flash site.  What will they think of next?) and that we're perfectly happy to be fed the same old marketing hoo-ha. ("They [Gen Y] are impermeable to the marketing messages that appealed to their parents and grandparents.") I dunno - seems to me Gen Y'ers are awfully susceptible to "buy this, wear this, listen to this and you'll be cool." That's a marketing approach that's as old as civilization.  I love my iPod but not because I can go gyrating around the mall, looking cool...madly texting about every inane thing I'm thinking, doing or saying. (Sure, I did that deep, deep navel gazing with friends for hours when I was young...on the phone. The technology has changed.  The psychology hasn't.) 

(Note to Bea: You need to tweak your post so people can link directly to them. So much for grokking the Web...and, hey, c'mon over and feel free to disagree with us.  We're "big girls" here.)   

So, what is a marketer to do if he or she wants to market to women?

1.  Don't look for the easy answer.  There is no one, sure-fire way to "market to women."  Thanks to the Web, you can now learn about, talk to, and market to many "sub-groups." 

2.  Don't use just one tactic.  I love the Web - but millions of people, men and women, are still not doing much with it. ("I don't want to give my credit card info to Paypal!")  Think how best to reach your target - and have something meaningful to say when you reach them.  Don't just paint "it" pink or slap some Mom speak into the copy.  (Remember, a lot of us aren't Moms.  And Moms often don't define themselves by their biological capability alone.)

3.  Be genuine.  Women can smell patronizing spin a mile away.  Whenever the talking heads start in about the Soccer Mom demographic, I turn off completely - and I know many Moms (Soccer, T-Ball, whatever) who roll their eye and turn off too.   

4.  Don't assume that because we're Moms, that "babies" is the sales button. Sure, (most) Mothers are crazy about their own children, but I also know Moms who are just as jazzed about health care, the environment, animal rights, etc. etc (and they're not particularly crazy about other people's children.)

Bonus Tip #1: Not all Mothers think alike (Duh). Read some of the "Mommy" blogs, check out some sites such as All Moms Go To Heaven.  (Yvonne frequently links to some of these). 

Some of the smartest, funniest women are writing about - be brave, men! - "women's issues."  (Check out Boobs on Ice). You can become part of the discussion - versus just talking at some anonymous "Mommy" target.

Bonus Tip #2:  Just because we have breasts doesn't mean we'll automatically flock to buy anything with a pink ribbon logo on it. Is it a good product?  Do we need it?  Are you really donating the money to breast cancer research?

Related Post: Yvonne on Marketing to Women: L'Oreal Gets Flashy


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Yvonne DiVita

Melanie, I couldn't have said it better. That's what I meant when I said ALL women are Moms. I think Aunts are just one overlooked category - Grandmoms are also ignored, as if we don't dote on our grandchildren and spend lots of our discretionary income on them! (as soon as I have some discretionary income, it will be spent on my grandkids).

Melanie Notkin

The traditional image of the American woman as married with 2.1 kids is radically changing. In fact, the majority of American women are childless. Since the advent of feminism in the 1960’s, women have progressively been getting married later and later, and have been having children toward the end of their child bearing years, if ever. It’s estimated that today, childless women represent over 50% of the adult female population, and over one quarter of the entire adult population. That stat is based on the latest (2004) Census look at fertility rates which states that 45% of women up to the age of 44 are childless (and on can assume that that number grows after the age of 44.)

Of course, that doesn't mean that non-moms aren't child-centered. Just about every woman has at least one child in their life whom they adore. But what's more, these women have the discretionary income - and time - that moms don't have. Besides indulging the children in their lives - their nieces and nephews and god-children - with their discretionary income, these women also have more time and money for leisure, travel, spas, beauty, fashion, and other traditional “women’s” products and services. They are also leading the fastest growing segment of women who are interested in owning their own homes, home improvement, cars, consumer electronics and other traditional “male” products.

And yet these tens of millions of lucrative consumers have been neglected by marketers who have traditionally focused all their attention on Mom. Instead, marketers should be focusing on Aunts! We're the savvy consumers advertising dollars should be focused on.

Melanie Notkin

Yvonne DiVita

Mary, to me, all women are Moms are heart. We're the nurturers, no matter what. But, you make very valuable points here - ones that address this issue with insight and respect. Women who CHOOSE not to be Moms should be recognized for who they are, not what they are not. Women who want to be Moms but have not gone there yet, (or can't) should be counted with the same respect you would give all women...Moms or not.

LOVE, love, love the note about babies... why is it that marketers think all Moms are about babies? I once tried to join a Moms group (sponsored by P&G) but I was rejected because my kids are grown! What the ...???

Jessica D

Thank you very much, from the bottom of the heart of a non-mom-herself-but-mom-loving-nonetheless, feminist 30 year old :o)

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