Marketing to Moms
Moms have spending power. Convince them that what you're selling is worth the cost.
BY FRANCESCA DI MEGLIO
Women with children spend more than a trillion dollars a year on products and services. Find out how to advertise so that they spend it on what you are selling.
There’s no doubt about it: These days, moms wear the spending pants in a lot of families—and companies are taking notice. According to Trillion-Dollar Moms, by Maria T. Bailey and Bonnie W. Ulman, moms control 80% of all household spending, which comes to $1.7 trillion in potential sales for marketers. That is not a shabby number.
“The reality is that moms are holding the purse strings to our society,” says Lisa Druxman, Entrepreneur’s “Mompreneur” columnist and founder of Stroller Strides, a fitness program for moms who don’t have the time for traditional workouts.
Companies—from those selling technology to those hawking healthcare—must pay attention to this trend in their marketing strategy or risk losing out on major rewards.
“Mothers are responsible for trillions of dollars in the purchase of consumer goods and services each year,” Ulman says. “The reason that this is growing is that she’s not only purchasing for the home, but she’s also influencing and purchasing for businesses, nonprofits, communities…. Her influence is far reaching.”
Ulman, who also founded the e-zine Momseasychair.com, an online magazine and social gathering place for women with children, recently took to the streets. Correspondents from the website traveled across the country to cities such as Seattle, Atlanta and Wichita to talk to moms about who they are, what they want and how companies can reach them.
“We felt that it was important as we went forward with this new online magazine to have personal contact with our potential subscribers and to learn a little more about them as human beings rather than as demographics,” says Sal Kibler, publisher of the e-zine.
Now, the women (and marketing experts) want to share what they’ve learned.
1. Don’t think of them as moms, but rather as women with children.
Many marketing gurus, including Ulman, refer to this target audience as “women with children” as a way of reminding themselves that moms are women—who have lives outside of their kids—first. Marketers will fail if they think of moms only as baby machines. They need to think in a broader sense and offer more than products and services geared toward the home and family.
“There’s more to life than baby cream,” says Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women.
Barletta reminds people that moms can also be wives, sisters and daughters who run businesses and have interests that range from scrapbooking to rock-climbing. Also, stay-at-home moms have different needs than working moms, while single moms have different needs than married moms. Some moms are in the PTA and some would rather watch a football game. Lumping everyone together will get marketers nowhere. Instead, think of mothers as a diverse group with different needs and wants. Then, try to address those in your products, services and advertising.
2. Get input from moms up front.
Many companies are bringing moms into the fold during the research and development stage of products. For example, Kim Lefk o, the vice president of global marketing for Graco (maker of baby products like car seats and strollers), says the company’s representatives travel with expectant and new moms to observe how they use goods and discuss what kinds of conveniences they need before creating new products. In these cases, mom definitely knows best, so it helps to bring her into the conversation from the very start. Mothers will likely show you how your product can make their lives more convenient—and that will help you make sales.
3. Use the internet wisely, and work your way into the hearts of blogger moms.
Today’s mother does not care if a celebrity uses a particular brand. She does research online and reads what the blogosphere is saying. If you can get bloggers to talk up your offerings, you are good as gold. But you have to be authentic. In other words, you can’t just start a blog yourself and expect moms to buy into it. The products and services have to be good enough to get recognized by established bloggers who are compelled to share their findings without any influence from marketers.
You can also use the internet to your advantage. Instead of just advertising to moms, offer to educate them online. Graco, for instance, recently created Sweet Peace, a site with advice on how to soothe your baby in light of the company’s line of swings. It mentions Graco swings, but it also offers tips for soothing babies that have nothing to do with products. This type of life-stage marketing, where the company caters to a particular demographic as it faces something universal (like marriage or parenthood) then follows customers’ needs aft er the sale, is becoming popular. “Our goal is to truly be a parenting resource for our clients,” Lefk o says. Knowledge is power, and today’s mom aims to be as powerful as possible. If you help her, you might win her heart—and her spending money.
4. Make mom feel connected to the world, and give her something for herself.
During their cross-country tour, Ulman and Kibler discovered that women, despite using the internet and other technologies, feel more isolated than ever. Companies that give them face time with others are doing well for themselves. For example, LUNA, the maker of nutritional bars for women, along with Stroller Strides, hosts the LUNA Moms Club, which offers once-a-week playgroups, monthly “Mom’s Night Out” events and volunteer opportunities four times a year.
Suave.com communicates with moms on its website, which features “In the Motherhood,” short shows starring Leah Remini and others acting out funny events that have happened to real people. The “webisode” where 3-year-old Ashley finally uses the potty—in a display toilet at a hardware store—will have you rolling on the floor laughing, and moms will definitely relate to it.
To increase your bottom line, remember that moms are more than moms. They are smart women who care for others but also themselves, and who want to buy products that make their families’ lives a little less complicated. If you can help them do that, they may reward you by tapping into the family budget to buy what you’re selling.
TODAY’S MOM IS...
Bonnie Ulman, author of Trillion-Dollar Moms, organized a 30-day tour across the US to find out what is on the minds of American mothers.
Correspondents spoke to about 1,500 women and discovered some surprising things:
1. MOM HAS LOFTY GOALS.
She is starting businesses, nonprofits and groups that help her community.
2. HER INFLUENCE IS FAR-REACHING.
“She has a tremendous influence over the design of products and services that one wouldn’t assume are mom-oriented, such as a gas pump.”
3. THINK OF HER AS A HIGH-POWERED BUSINESSWOMAN.
“She is performing at an extraordinarily high level. She might parse up her day the way a CEO of a large corporation would.”
4. TECHNOLOGY IS HER FRIEND.
You can’t function as CEO of a family without some help from technology.
5. THE AGE OF MOM-AS-MARTYR IS STILL WITH US.
She often neglects herself; give her what she doesn’t, and you may win her over.