Marti Barletta: How to Market to Moms

Insights

Step out of the ‘Mommy’ Mentality and Find Out Who They Really Are
By Marti Barletta

Mother’s Day is a wonderful time for marketers to talk to moms. After all, mothers are
the chief purchasing officers, or CPOs, of their households, making almost all of the
spending decisions. From computers to cars, from airlines to appliances, from home
improvement to high-definition TVs, women — the majority of whom are moms — make
85% of all household purchase decisions in the U.S. Smart marketers can’t afford to
ignore the power of mom’s purse. New media is all the rage these days, and there are
several vehicles that are doing a great job of leveraging the power of marketing to moms.
Here are some examples:
Motherproof.com is a fabulous site that, in its own words, “is on a never-ending quest for
your quintessential mom-mobile. … We want a car that’s easy to load kids into and has
seats that hide baby vomit, but will also make us feel sexy and modern while driving it.
Oh yeah, if it could also bring about world peace and end hunger, that would be a bonus.”
In terms of marketing presence, there is obviously car advertising, but also a great “seal
of approval” section listing products that help “nourish, inform, organize, clean and keep
safe” all mothers and families on the road.
CafeMom.com is the largest and fastest-growing social-networking site for moms on the
web, with 1 million members. Moms have created more than 35,000 groups on
CafeMom.com for everything from cooking to autism to working at home to raising boys
to getting tattoos. CafeMom also prides itself on providing added-value sponsorship
programs that allow brands to realistically join the conversation, and blue chip brands
such as P&G, Walmart, Kraft and Sony have heeded CafeMom’s call.
Alaska mom Michelle Mitchell has created a custom search engine,
scribbit.blogspot.com, powered by Google, for perusing parenting related blogs. It can
search over 1,500 blogs for everything from “kids birthday party ideas” at alphamom.com
to “spring cleaning” tips from momadvice.com. What a time saver and great way to get
up-to-the-minute advice from all “the girls.” I didn’t see much advertising or marketing
on this site, but I guarantee it will be there soon.

I’ve also run across a couple of interesting Mother’s Day new-media marketing initiatives:
JVC is sponsoring a “Here’s Looking at Me” Mother’s Day video contest where
participants can create their own “Thanks, mom” video, upload it to the JVC contest
website, and e-mail a link to share the love with mom. Participants will also be entered to
win a new video camera. JVC not only is tapping into Mother’s Day as a way to reach the
CPOs of the family, but they are also leveraging the younger generation’s propensity to
“do” new media.
BlogHer.com, a guide to blogs by women, recently challenged its members by asking
“How many lives can we save with donations from the BlogHer community between now
and Mother’s Day, May 11, 2008?” It encourages members to download a Global Giving
widget that drives other readers to donate to the cause of improving maternal health by
supplying health care, birthing kits, education, meals and much more to women in need.
Marketing to moms makes sense, but beware these common mistakes: Don’t assume
“mom” is the only aspect of their lives that women with children can relate to. In fact,
moms are multidimensional, and when they are in work mode, exercise mode or planning
a girlfriends’ getaway, the “mom” mind-set is not where their heads are.
Don’t assume moms have all the money. In a way, they do; 84% of women over 40 have
kids — ergo, they are mothers. But the real driver of women’s spending power kicks in
when they are less involved with their kids, not throwing all their dough into diapers and
formula. Don’t assume moms all have toddlers in the home. Most marketers are thinking
in terms of babies and younger kids but only 3.5% of women bear children each year, so
that’s a pretty limited target audience. And the fact is, most of the household’s major baby
spending is concentrated around the birth of the first child, making the niche even
smaller.
One thing that surprises me is the dearth of content, info, forums, social networking and
blogs oriented around the needs and concerns of moms of teens. The difficulties of
adolescents are at least as bad as the tantrums of toddlers, and often with far more dire
consequences. Yet no one is making it their business to reach out to this under-served and
over-stressed segment.
All that said, Happy Mother’s Day. If you are going after moms, make the most of the
many ways to connect with them. But don’t make the mistake of using stereotypical
“mommy marketing.”
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