Most of us know that today’s moms have become big business, wielding $2.1 trillion in U.S. spending power each year. We also know how far moms have distanced themselves from stereotypes of home maker, soccer mom, tech neophyte. But there’s an even more dramatic evolution in modern motherhood underway right now, and it’s causing marketers to reconsider how they communicate with this key audience. Witness the fast-changing face of the American family, the new roles moms have taken on in a battered economy, and the explosion of mobile technology solutions. We’re seeing all this play out in five key trends which drive our efforts to better reach and engage the 21st Century Mom. To better understand these changes, we hosted industry thought leaders for an Advertising Week panel featuring Lisa Belkin of The Huffington Post, Jenny Dennis of Target Corporation, and Liz Gumbinner of Deutsch to discuss the mindset, preferences, and behaviors of today’s mom. The trends we explored are essential reading for any brand looking to understand and engage this important market.
Trend 1: The Mobile State of Mom
Today’s mom is among the most sophisticated user of new technology solutions, from connected TVs and cloud storage to Bluetooth devices and e-readers. But her go-to, can’t-do-without device is the mobile phone, and that’s because it lets her do all she needs to do on the go, anytime. Our 2012 American Media Mom Report found that 65% of moms have a smartphone—that’s 38% higher than the general online U.S. population. With mobile usage now mainstream for moms, they increasingly expect their favorite brands to be a tap away. They expect seamless ways to socialize, shop, bank, capture family moments, order groceries, and keep their medical records organized on the go—and they tell us that brands that fail to meet this expectation risk being left behind.
Trend 2: More Power Through Motherhood
Motherhood today is a powerful additive to a woman’s identity—it is not how she’s defined. Our September 2012 poll found that 70% of moms agreed that motherhood has given them an increased sense of confidence, despite the incredible amount of new responsibility and pressures of motherhood. Eight-seven percent also revealed that they care deeply about maintaining themselves as a woman and a mom. That means working hard to remain stylish and sexy—and getting creative in the bedroom (50 Shades of Grey is the second-most popular book among moms trying to conceive). Brands should be sure to recognize and reflect the fuller identity of the women they engage with, from the nursery to the bedroom to the boardroom.
Trend 3: Moms Live Out Loud
Parenthood today is so much about celebration, from the first smile to the last day of school. It’s not just birthdays and major milestones. Earlier this year, we identified the fast-growing trend of Gender Reveal parties, where parents host events to share news of the expected baby’s sex. Meanwhile, our community has been buzzing lately with Smash Cake photos: a baby digging into his or her own first birthday cake. Just look at your Facebook feed: today’s moms make any special moment cause for a party, a social media post, or a present—and they’re open to an array of ideas and solutions to make it fun and easy. Marketers have more opportunities than ever to be her ally, supporting her continuous celebration of family.
Trend 4: Motherhood Is Showtime
For moms, images speak so much louder than words. And there’s no shortage of them. With smartphone in hand and the best possible subject crawling or walking or eating or playing before your eyes, photos have to be shared. They are the ultimate social currency. We also see sites like Pinterest and Springpad helping moms plan everything from home remodels to holiday dinners to family vacations all through purely visual content. The $1 billion acquisition of Instagram by Facebook and the fact that Facebook gives priority to images in its newsfeeds is evidence that a visual content revolution is well underway. For marketers, it’s important to understand how moms are using images as content themselves, and consuming visual content in new ways, in order to break through. Give her content that captures her eye, let her interact with it, and you’ve just become a lot more helpful, and relevant to Mom.
Trend 5: The Modern Family
Families come in more shapes and sizes than ever, with a growing population of single moms, working moms with stay-at-home dads, moms having babies later in life, same-gender parents, and multiple generations of moms under one roof. Today, 41% of births are to unmarried women (up from 11% in 1971), and there are currently 2 million stay-at-home dads who are the primary caregiver. (Sources: CDC; U.S. Census; Associated Press, April 26, 2011). Marketers trying to reach moms can’t assume one size fits all. Demonstrating recognition of the many faces of the American family, and speaking to mom in a voice that conveys that understanding, means truer connections and real brand relevance for today, and tomorrow.
Today’s moms tell us more than ever before about how they live their lives, and what solutions can help. We listen closely in order to more deeply understand the 21st Century Mom. When we do that – and translate that into new content, community, platforms and services always at the right time in the right place – we reinforce her trust in us, and there’s nothing more important than that. Brands can do the same. Start by thinking about how to put the Five Mom Trends to work. Pick some specific ways to let her know you get her and how she’s living her life. She’ll notice, and she’ll tell others about it, too.