Mom's Oldest Rules The Show

I just finished reading Michal Clements’ and Teri Lucie Thompson’s book, Tuning Into Mom and, as often happens, struck upon a concept that I had not really thought about for a while -- the impact of the age of Mom’s oldest on buying decisions for the whole family. 

The old adage about photo albums -- filled to the brim for the oldest, half done for the second and forgotten for the third, holds true for how younger siblings eat as well. Mom’s eldest ate home-made baby food, her youngest jarred … organic, but still jarred and moved onto a variety of foods much earlier. Eldest siblings’ food choices have a much bigger impact on how younger siblings grow up than we usually consider when developing our marketing plans.

We all know teenage girls have an impact on buying decisions, but may not have considered that a mom making the food choices for a household full of kids 10 and under might be buying primarily for the 10 year old. So targeting first-time moms, standard in marketing to babies, translates to targeting first-time moms of an eight year old or of a twelve year old. 



Much of mom’s life revolves around her children’s activities, with the oldest often picking the sport in which the whole family will be involved. So, too, are the food choices mom makes geared to the lifestyle of the oldest child.

 A “suddenly vegetarian” oldest child won’t make the household vegetarian, but will impact the purchase of vegetables and fruits. Eldest children involved in highly competitive sports, which inevitably leads to more practices, means more quick, protein rich bars and snacks for the whole family. Yes, younger children can impact the family’s eating habits, too, but the eldest child is always widening his or her world before the rest of the children and so brings the most preferences home.

Teasing out the data on eldest children can be tough, but thinking about it while crafting your message is easy and can influence your campaigns in ways you may not have considered. In particular online, where we have limited time and limited attention span, targeting mom by focusing on the needs of her eldest, can move more product. 

As more and more of our traditional child-rearing activities move online, we’ll see how the eldest-child syndrome plays out. Expect more boards on Pinterest for that eldest!

2 comments about "Mom's Oldest Rules The Show ".
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  1. Vera Holroyd from MomFocus Marketing, May 16, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.

    Great, thought-provoking article, Maryanne (and a great book, too)!

  2. Michal Clements from Insight to Action, Inc., May 16, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.

    Maryanne, you make excellent points on how household food choices are impacted by the oldest child, and also a family 'sports/extracurriculars' lifestyle. Since mom goes through each major life experience as a 'first time mom' with her eldest child, she is receptive to messages from food brands (and others) that can help. Just yesterday a 29 year old colleague was commenting on how her Facebook page has been over-taken by baby photos of her friend's children (she said I didn't opt into this!), and these are most likely first time moms. Your point on Pinterest is also provocative.
    Thank you for the thoughtful exploration and discussion.

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