Why Age Does Matter

Say the phrase “first-time moms,” and you immediately think of the young mom caring for her new infant, but new research is challenging that idea. “We think about ‘first-time moms,’ but somehow the idea that mom is experiencing all the age groups for the ‘first time’ is not recognized after the child moves on from being an infant,” says Michal Clements, senior principal of The Cambridge Group and co-author of a new marketing book, Tuning Into Mom: Understanding America’s Most Powerful Consumer. One of the book’s key insights is that mom’s focus -- labeled “hot buttons” in the book -- changes as her first child ages.

This new insight gives brands the opportunity to develop strategies to build their business, add value and reach moms throughout the entire parenting journey -- not just when their children are young. “It is surprising to see how influential mom is even with older children, especially teenagers and young adults,” adds co-author Teri Lucie Thompson, chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing and media for Purdue University. “While we have heard reports about how close Millennials are to their parents, what surprised us most was that these young adults come to their moms for advice across a wide range of topics -- from clothing to relationships to education and beyond. It’s interesting to think how close these children will continue to be with their mom even into their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.”



What are some of the key brand categories that have the opportunity to connect with “first time moms” and their older children?

Education: “In the education area, parents are highly involved with their child’s research and decision making around school selection, especially college,” adds Thompson. “And parents also want their child to succeed once they are enrolled.” She suggests targeting moms on two fronts: acquisition (getting students to choose your school or program) and retention (helping parents help their child succeed).

Exercise and Sports: “In the elementary or tween years, connect your brand with ‘coach mom’, suggests Clements. “These connections can carry over to the teen and young adult years.” Clements suggests creating ways to help mom continue to support her athlete either financially (via websites where athletes can design or choose their products) or socially (allowing her to share exercise tips via social networks).

Technology: Kids are growing up in a world of technology, and this is one of the reasons why mom and her Millennial children are still so connected. “Technology has allowed mom and her young adult children to more readily exchange information, share, and get advice whether through text, Skype, email or Facebook,” says Thompson.  There is an opportunity for brands to reinforce mom in “cyber” support of her children and to help her learn these new technologies when appropriate.

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