Commentary

Why Brands Miss The Mark

With 83 million moms in the U.S. controlling more than 85% of all household purchases – accounting for over $2 trillion a year – it's critical marketers know exactly how to reach this group. The problem is, most brands still approach the "mom market" as one unified demographic. They create digital campaigns that speak to the “archetypal mom” with the underlying assumption that all mothers have similar interests, tastes, values, and ideas. In reality, no two moms are alike, and grouping moms together makes about as much sense as grouping “adult air breathers” together.

Until recently, it has been impossible for advertisers to find out exactly how unique mom demographics respond to specific advertising messages, and then optimize campaigns automatically to reach these micro-segments. Big data is changing all of that. 

Now, advertisers can use advanced analytics to measure billions of digital signals to find out with certainty how unique and different moms relate to brands. Big data solutions allow advertisers to track how each micro-group responds differently to creative, offers, and timing – and then automatically optimize campaigns and ad buys based on these findings.

We analyzed hundreds of mom-focused campaigns run by large brand advertisers over a one-month period last March. Based on geography alone, the results were surprising. For example, Midwestern moms were not likely to purchase travel online, while moms in the South were; moms in North Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi, and New York were the biggest coupon hunters; and moms in Hawaii were the least likely to convert on any online campaign. These findings are just the tip of the iceberg.

With big data analytics, you might discover that moms with two kids in Orange County, Calif., need nine ad exposures across three devices (laptop, tablet, and mobile device) before scheduling a test drive. Or that moms in suburban Tallahassee, Fla., are four times more likely to increase their average order value by 200% with a free shipping offer incentive. The great news for marketers is these insights – once trapped in the abyss of post-campaign analysis reporting – can now emerge within hours after a campaign’s launch. 

So how can marketers take their mom marketing to the next level? Here are three tips to get started with hyper-specialized mom marketing. 

Don’t treat moms like a “momolithic” segment

Someone once told my wife at a dinner party that “one child is a hobby, two is a job, and three is a family.”  Whether that’s true or not, it’s clear the number of kids in a household dramatically shifts consumption patterns and purchasing decisions. And yet, too often, marketers treat all moms as “momoliths” – one-size-fits-all. Let’s look at traditional demographic age groups and factor in just two children of different ages in the household:

Age: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55+ (5 segments)

Child 1 age: Infant–toddler, toddler–pre-K, K–grade 5, grade 6–grade 8, grade 9–grade 12 (5 segments)

Child 2 age: Infant–toddler, toddler–pre-K, K–grade 5, grade 6–grade 8, grade 9–grade 12 (5 segments)

While we can discount some of the obvious unlikely age scenarios (moms 18–24 with a 9th grader at home), we still see nearly 50 potential “mom” segments, just based on the single factor of how many kids they have. In other words, start thinking poly-mommy segments instead of momoliths.

Embrace multichannel digital marketing

It’s no secret that tablets and smartphones are radically reshaping the world of advertising and commerce. The path to purchase now often involves a keyboard-free device. Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers partner Mary Meeker just released her latest Internet Trends report, and in it we find that 29% of adults in the U.S. own a tablet or eReader, and 10% of all media time is now spent with a mobile device. If the old adage is true that marketers should “follow the eyeballs,” then perhaps mobile does finally represent the exciting advertising frontier promised for many years. 

From an addressable advertising perspective, mommy marketers should think about how personalized persuasion on the third screen works in conjunction other digital channels, such as display and video. Moms are constantly on the go, so they are big users of smartphones and tablets. Brands shouldn’t just throw money at mobile, however, but instead work with a partner who can optimize their ad spend in real-time across channels based on sophisticated data analytics.

Start doing 1-to-1 marketing at scale right now

When thinking about the sheer number of different mom segments, then layering on devices types and location, marketers quickly realize that dozens of messaging segments have become thousands. The ‘easy way out’ is to create one message for the masses. While this may work for a novel consumer product like the iPad, it won’t work for other product categories. Savvy marketers who take advantage of message, device, and geographic sequencing can improve sales by orders of magnitude.

Moms make $2 trillion worth of purchases per year. Brands that use big data analytics and next-generation cross-channel marketing will be rewarded with loyalty from the world’s largest consumer force: moms.

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