There are 35.3 million moms online with children under the age of 18 -- a number projected to reach 36.9 million by 2012.
Just as significant as the number of moms writing blogs, reading blogs and looking for advice on what to buy for their children is the psychology behind that last category. Studies show that moms are increasingly losing trust in established "experts" -- institutions and the like -- while trusting more in what other moms have to say. That trust extends beyond members of their family or immediate community to other moms -- strangers -- they meet online.
They feel that other moms who are going through the same experiences that they themselves are, at the same time, are the only ones truly qualified to comment on what to do -- and, more importantly to mom-targeted companies, what to buy. Moms also feel that, unlike companies that want to promote their own brands, other moms have no motivation to be anything other than truthful. As a result, mom bloggers become the "go to" group, the ones other moms rely on, the opinion leaders and the purchase influencers.
"It is clear that how moms communicate and whom they trust is fundamentally changing," noted "Digital Mom," a report recently published by Razorfish and CafeMom. "Understanding how to leverage emerging technologies, and the growing social influence of the digital moms, is a critical step for marketers in a changing media landscape."
In other words, marketers: Bloggers can promote products or services more credibly than companies can on their own.
This is particularly true for reaching Gen Y moms -- women in their 20s and early 30s -- the prime target for most manufacturers of products for young children.
"Gen Y moms are much more attached to media that connects them to other moms online -- such as Internet communities, blogs and video-sharing sites -- suggesting they prefer to rely on peers rather than experts to help them parent," according to a 2008 report by from The Parenting Group and NewMediaMetrics. "The top three activities of Gen Y moms (online) are reading blogs, participating in an online community of moms, and creating and sharing their own video."
Meanwhile, the top three online activities for Gen X moms (generally, in their mid-30s through 40s) are using a photo site, rating and reviewing products, and shopping.
New vs. Old
Where, one might ask, do traditional media fall on the popularity and influence ladder in comparison? Largely, by the wayside:
Personally, I have no interest in devaluing traditional media -- as a former journalist and the spouse of a current one, I long for The New York Times over morning coffee and a glossy magazine to relax with on an airplane. But I am not Gen Y -- and I am realistic.
Word of mouth -- rather than newsprint -- is extraordinarily impactful among moms, and the musings of mommy bloggers fall within that umbrella. Marketers who remain skeptical about the influence of mom bloggers must acknowledge that adhering exclusively to the old ways just won't work.
Companies must recognize that their own lack of understanding of how to work with this increasingly influential channel can no longer serve as an excuse not to. This is especially true in this economy, when it's more critical than ever to reach moms where they live, which -- no doubt about it -- is in the blogosphere.