Contrary to soccer-mom stereotypes, young moms aren't talking about minivans, but they are talking about Jeeps, green cars and SUVs.
J.D. Power & Associates is using what it calls "tribe intelligence" gleaned from blogs to discern those and other trends among Gens Y and X mothers, 22 to 29 years of age and 30 to 42, respectively.
Per Michael Cooperman, senior director of product development and marketing at J.D. Power, it's sort of a CAT scan of the blogosphere. "We are using the blogosphere as a source for rich information, and using our technology to identify segments like age, gender and sentiment." The new series of studies by the Westlake Village, Calif.-based research firm eschews surveys for blog-crawling bots and linguistic software. The results are based on levels of blog conversation about a brand or product among mothers versus among all bloggers.
In the results, Gens X and Y moms who blog are talking about the Jeep brand far more than all bloggers. "We didn't expect to see such a high level of conversation around Jeep," says Cooperman. "What we found was there's a large segment of moms talking about Jeep-branded strollers, toys, electrical, miniature Jeeps kids can ride, things like that." He says it's a positive for Jeep because it has a brand extension that targets young kids, who will be the next generation of drivers.
The study also found that among the young-mom cohort, there isn't a single vehicle, brand or segment of vehicle that is doing a great job of exciting them, per Cooperman. "But they are looking to be wowed. There's nothing out there doing it."
Both Gens X and Y talk about purchasing SUVs, but Gen X is more likely to talk about them, while younger moms are more apt to talk about smaller cars and minivans. And, Cooperman says, both groups talk about Honda and Toyota more than any other brands. "But younger moms have a more expansive discussion, so they talked more about Dodge and Jeep than older moms," he says.
Another surprise is that the two cohorts of bloggers spend very little time discussing the bailouts when they talk about autos in blog conversations J.D. Power tracked over the past year.
"In previous [tribe intelligence] we did among teens and early careerists, there was a lot of discussion about disappointment with GM and Dodge taking bailout money," says Cooperman. "But there was virtually none of that conversation among moms. If you are looking at impediments to sell, it doesn't seem the bailout is having big effect on choices [young moms] are going to make, and women are highly influential in perhaps 88% of household purchases."
Also big in mommy blogs: Environmental consciousness around product purchases. Cooperman says they are talking about green vehicles 30% more often than the general blogosphere, and are "highly interested in driving vehicles that are more sustainable, but they are not willing to sacrifice functionality or size."
Just one emblem of Gens X and Y mothers' interest in being green: A huge resurgence of interest in cloth diapers, per Cooperman. He says that one of the most talked-about companies on blogs is called Bum Genius, which makes accessories to be used with cloth diapers.
"It over-indexes by a huge margin," he says. "Gen Y moms are talking about this company like gangbusters. I had to look it up. I had no idea who they were. We have 10 or 12 child care brands that were most often talked about, and that was the only one I'd never heard of. If you can make a product that's environmentally friendly and convenient, Gen Y moms are looking for that all across the board."