Consider this blog post a two-part series. I'll focus on the greatest changes I've seen in the past five years here and follow it up next month with part two, my predictions for the next five years.
Here are the top eight changes I've seen in the mom market in the past half decade.
1) Marketing "with" Moms rather than "to" moms
Marketers used to spend millions on a brand message, distribute it to mothers and they would repeat it on the playground or at a PTA meeting. Today, moms read, see and hear that brand message, they define it for themselves and their families and repeat it to other moms as they see fit. Wal-Mart may be the place to "Save Money, Live Better" but to some moms Wal-Mart might mean, fast easy shopping and if that's the way they feel, that may be what turns up in the blog, vlog or YouTube video. Moms have become your marketing partner, not your target market.
2) Motherhood as a brand
Gone are the days of the Stepford wives. Today's moms are branding themselves -- MizFitOnline, Dr.Mommy, and MilitaryMom. Moms are doing it their way and just as companies are trying to build their brands, so are the mothers they are marketing with.
Millennial moms have redefined Burger King's old tagline, "Have it your way." Today's new mothers expect to customize products, media and even the lifestyle of motherhood. They are applying their pre-baby style to post-baby life and customizing motherhood to their daily activities, personal values, goals and philosophies and expect the products they purchase to be customizable to the motherhood they define for themselves.
4) Frugalista Mom
The economy may have forced moms to shop differently but now that they've tasted the sweet success of saving money, they're not going back. The Mom Frugalista is here to stay, regardless of her income level. Moms have discovered that saving money is empowering, fun and a badge of honor among her peers.
5) Emergence of the virtual playground
Moms used to trade ideas and product information on the playground down the block. Today the physical playground as a social platform for mothers has been expanded to a virtual playground. Monkey bars and slides have been replaced with blogs and tweets. Moms mingle on the virtual playground, passing along tips, advice and product recommendations just as they passed along casserole recipes next to the swings on the corner lot.
6) Sphere of influence on steroids
Word of mouth marketing has been the most powerful form of marketing in the world of mothers. Take yesterday's sphere of influence and inject it with steroids and you have Word of Mom 2010. An influencer once was the PTA president or soccer mom but today she is a blogger, business owner, YouTuber, Turbo Tweeter and Facebook Fanatic as well as the team and homeroom mom. Engage her as your brand evangelist and you have word of mom on steroids.
7) It's a small world after all
Moms have gone global. Thanks to technology, moms in Europe can compare business plans with moms in the U.S. or mothers in Australia can trade sleep tips with moms in South Africa. Mothers love nurturing relationships and this includes interacting with moms across the globe.
8) Boomers are becoming grandparents
They may be the youngest group of "nanas" and "grandmas" in history but the good news for marketers is that these young-at-heart boomers are purchasing the same products that they did when they were moms. Loyalty is important to mothers and the fact that this young generation of grandmothers are fully engaged in their new role means that their old favorites still make it into their shopping cart.