Traditional marketing-to-mom tropes have become less and less reliable. Is the modern mom working, a homemaker, an educator, the breadwinner, a spouse, a shopper, or primary nurturer? Is she all of the above, or none of the above?
Recent studies reveal a complicated and nuanced reality. In some ways, the conventional definitions of “mom” are as true as ever. In other ways we’ve seen some unexpected twists in the evolution of this audience.
For example, a 2012 Pew Research Center study reported the number of stay-at-home moms in the U.S. as 29%, an increase from 23% in 1999. Interestingly, the number of years women spend as stay-at-home moms has decreased. So we know moms are seeking balance, taking action but adjusting as they go.
The study also revealed that today’s moms have pushed convention aside and don’t see marriage as a requirement to start a family. In 2012, 47% of Millennial women who had babies weren't married. This is up from 35% of Gen X women who weren’t married when they had babies around the same age.
The “mom” segment is becoming more and more fragmented, but a strong commonality is emerging: today’s moms are driving a culture of independence and balance, fueled by a spirit of entrepreneurism. We’re seeing the rise of the mompreneur generation and marketers need to take note and shift their approach in order to resonate.
These women are in cost-benefit analysis mode. They’re evaluating hard costs like childcare and transportation against take-home wages and the benefits of time spent with their children. Technology and the role of social influencer have also opened the doors of opportunity for many moms; earning ad revenue from blog traffic or building an Etsy empire are no longer alien concepts. We’ve also seen the explosion of women-driven, multi-level marketing schemes – from Silpada and Sabika to Stella & Dot and Lia Sophia.
Mompreneurism and its “Shark Tank” shimmer of financial independence and celebrity are a millennial twist to the traditional cliché of little boys eyeing the Big Leagues, but these mompreneurism dreams are decidedly more realistic.
Mompreneurs are also more cautious than ever in their lifestyle decisions. Every choice matters and is weighed for its implications on her public brand – from the simple decisions like, “Do I buy product A or product B?” to the more complicated ones like, “Do I share photos from my son’s birthday party on Facebook?”
Here are three ideas to consider when marketing to the mompreneur generation:
1. Take a stand: Be boldly for something that sparks passion with less concern for backlash – a concern that can often hold brands back from making brave work. Following in Cheerios’ footsteps, Honeymaid’s “This is Wholesome” campaign is a great example of this approach – shattering the idea of the nuclear family, and instead presenting families of all compositions, colors, and creeds in one unifying message of love. Similarly, Maria Kang, the unapologetic fitness mom with a “no excuses” mantra has earned pop culture status and built an instantly recognizable brand. Her message is intentionally polarizing and, as a result, has rallied equally zealous supporters.
2. Empower mompreneurs to sell: A brand can’t fear the lack of authenticity that comes from paying for influencer voices. It’s a part of the mompreneur culture – they can easily detect a paid endorsement, but it’s not always a detriment. Take Joy Cho and Target. Cho is an accomplished lifestyle blogger and author with a huge Pinterest following whom Target recently tapped to launch their party products collections. Brands should embrace that moms know other moms tout brands because they get compensated. Let them be your voice. Ask them to build your brand and pay them to do it. That’s talking Mompreneur.
3. Know her motives: Mompreneurs are driven to be independent for various reasons. Some don’t want to live like their parents did, sacrificing family time for a traditional career. Some invested in an education that requires continued ROI. Brands would do well to consider how their positioning aligns with the motives of independent-minded moms. Johnson Baby’s “You’re Doing OK, Mom” campaign provides a reassuring voice to moms – from one of the most important voices in their lives, their children – who are intimately familiar with the balance of self-doubt and independence that comes with parenthood.
As our definition of “mom” continues to blur, moms’ increased independence is driving an exciting new time for brands. Now more than ever, marketers should expect the continued rise of the mompreneur generation to shape the way we speak to moms in meaningful ways.