Commentary

Marketers Need To Define Mothers In Broader Terms

When is a Mom Not A Mom?

Answer:  When she’s a co-worker.  Or a friend.  Or a spouse or partner.  Or simply when she’s alone.

We’ve always had a tendency that borders on the obsessive to focus on consumers by defining them in narrow and mostly inflexible categories.  Partly this is down to how demographics work. And although people have acknowledged for years that demographics alone aren’t enough, their ubiquity and simplicity have ensured their survival at the heart of every communications plan.

And fair enough -– to some extent.  They have a role.  After all, if you sell a product that is ultimately used by kids, then you are definitely going to want to reach and influence parents -- and moms in particular.

But to always and only talk to moms as moms misses the point.  

Sure, the fact of their having brought a child into the world means that they are indeed moms through and through, and they’ll never stop caring for their children, no matter how old they are. But throughout each day, the vast majority of moms -- just like the rest of us -- transition through different roles and responsibilities that push their status as mothers to the rear.

One way to consider this is in the context of who they are interacting with at different times.  It’s a pretty good indicator of their mind-set and sense of self at those times -- both of which are important to brands wishing to engage meaningfully with them.

For example, according to USA TouchPoints data, when looking at the average day of moms aged 25-54, we see that while the clear majority of the sample spent time with immediate family (97% spent time with their children and 80% with their spouse or partner), 83% also spent time alone.  Perhaps during this time, it is better to talk to the woman rather than the mom.

Similarly, 38% time spent with friends in an average day (and I don’t mean on Facebook), and 29% spent time with co-workers. These two very different sets of circumstances  suggest the need for different communication styles and media strategies to maximize the efficiency of the consumer contact.

Beyond this, there is time spent with parents, strangers (when out shopping for example) and others.

Of course, all this applies to any group you care to identify. While we can all be unified within groups that make us relevant to brands, none of those groups are so one-dimensional to justify only being spoken to in those terms.

Unless we know how the social context of our target audiences change through the day –- and hence how their mind-set, their roles and their receptivity to different types of messaging may vary –- marketers will be consigned to see more of their communications activity fail to fully resonate.

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