Mother know best. She’s the one who can cure a cold and make a mean chicken soup. She tucked you in at night and helped with your homework. And while she’s still all those things and more, she now also represents the holy grail of household marketing.
According to research done by the Marketing to Moms Coalition, moms control 85% of household spending. Last year alone, they spent more that $2 trillion on U.S. brands. Connecting with real moms is a priority for many retailers and has become so key in their sales efforts that companies specifically providing “mom marketing” services are now cropping up everywhere. These specialty firms will offer insights not only into the lifestyle and decision making process of today’s moms, but also the best ways to reach them.
In the Moms Annual Media Survey 2008, moms report using TV and email the most everyday, but cell phones and websites follow close behind with 69% and 64% respectively for 25-44 year old mothers. Moms are now more tech-savvy and gadget friendly than ever, and they are using online sites for social media, shopping, bill paying and seeking advice from other mothers. In addition, smartphones are quickly gaining popularity and allowing moms to access information all from one place, while on the go.
Radio came in at 57%, which is ironic considering how much driving around moms typically do, especially those who work. Between commuting, school drop-offs and soccer carpooling, moms are in the car and exposed to radio quite a bit, but this survey seems to suggest that mobile phones are a more-frequently used channel. Some of this may be explainable by sample composition (the percentage of actual “stay-at-home moms”) but it is a significant finding nonetheless.
While all moms are, of course, valued consumers, it is the “Alpha mom” that is most sought after. This designation refers to the ultra-busy, multi-tasking trendsetter in her circle who is usually highly opinionated (and often annoying to other non-Alpha moms.) She is usually a working mother who is completely connected with a smartphone/pda at all times and runs her household and life with military precision. These women use the internet to find information, and –more importantly to marketers–to spread information.
To reach these trendsetting women, retailers are following the advice of mom marketers and setting up new approaches to get their feedback. Activities like in-home parties and product testing events are scoring big points and winning new loyalty to their brands. An in-home party (called a Maven Mixer by BSM Media) relies on a hybrid of old school word of mouth advertising and new media, including blogging and viral marketing. After meeting certain “Alpha” criteria, a mom hosts a party of her peers to showcase a new product. These parties involve product demonstrations, coupons, the sharing of ideas and an opportunity for a girls night out, all centered around products that run the gamut from video games to snack food. But the key to this concept is the sharing aspect. Companies that sponsor these gatherings are banking on a room full of Alpha moms to spread the word at the next little league game, pre-k party and above all else– on parenting web sites and forums where those influential moms chatter.
This chatter is so valued that big names like Nintendo, Proctor & Gamble and General Motors have all adapted their marketing campaigns to target this red-hot group. Before it officially launched the Wii, Nintendo held a series of events for trendsetting moms in eight cities to test the new gaming console. Using venues like the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, Nintendo catered to moms with expensive food, an open bar and, of course, enough Wii demos to go around. The response was overwhelming and the Wii went on to become a huge success.
Marketers and retailers alike seem to agree that the “mom phenomenon” is here to stay. According to the U.S. Census, there are 82.8 million mothers in the United States, and that number will continue to climb as 40% of all the babies born are to first-time mothers. As more women remain in the workforce after giving birth, we can expect their presence to be felt in the world of advertising. Whether they are Alpha or not, they still have the purchasing power that drives their household.