Where Is The Relief For The Busier-than-ever Mom?

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, November 3, 2014

In my 20 years of marketing to moms, one observation has always been there: Moms are busy. But it’s not an insight, and the solution isn’t “let’s play up how convenient the product is!”

Moms’ busyness has become such a generic rallying point for brands that I fear it hurts more than it helps. I doubt moms want to hear about how busy they are. About how brands X, Y, and Z have quick and easy solutions to cut down on time. I worry that the sum of the busyness messaging is a nagging, deflating reminder to moms, rather than a refreshing message of hope and help.

Just take these facts about U.S. women from Ketchum’s 2014 Marketing to Moms study:

  • Nearly half are the primary or equal breadwinners in their families
  • 40% say they’re stressed out in this role – significantly more than in other countries studied
  • Being a mom doubles the likelihood of time starvation – 46% of moms reported feeling time-starved versus just 21% of women
  • Nearly half are envious of couples who spend more time together and with their children
  • One-third cut back on sleep and exercise as a result of demands on their time



It’s a striking picture of the increasingly heavy burden that moms are taking on, and it is this which has righted my thinking. Now, I’m less concerned about boring, repetitive insights and a whitewash of “busy” brand communications than I am about moms’ health and happiness.

As a marketer, I find this challenge reinvigorating and motivating. It’s a reminder to fight for brand solutions that do more than give mom an “on-the-go” solution, or reduce her prep time from 15 to 10 minutes. I want to give mom her weekends back. I want her to spend more time with family and friends. I want her to know that she can play with her kids without feeling rushed.

No special bag of veggies that steam cooks in the microwave is going to get us there. Looking at the big picture, these time-shavers have a negligible impact on moms’ time.

Improvement can only come if we provide meaningful utility that changes behavior. Not just something that’s quicker, but something that gives her more power over how she spends her time.

At last week’s Shopper Marketing Expo in Minneapolis, Andy Murray, SVP Creative at Walmart, captured this perfectly. He spoke about Walmart’s ambition to create new value for shoppers instead of just to communicate value. I believe that’s what needs to happen on a larger scale.

In household shopping, for example, brands and retailers are introducing new digital shopping models like order-and-deliver and order-and-pick-up. All are welcome innovations. We should vigorously pursue anything that significantly shortens the time and energy moms spend. 

Retailers are focused on the potential impact on sales — higher basket rings, attracting shoppers with higher incomes, and repurposing shoppers’ saved time to drive incremental purchases. But they’re not prioritizing the most meaningful, valuable impact on consumers’ lives — giving back hours. As it stands, the simple hurdle of delivery fees is preventing scale participation.

I encourage brands and retailers to work together to make a difference. Partner to eliminate the hurdle of delivery fees in digital grocery shopping. Combine efforts to invite moms to try it, let them experience the convenience firsthand, and make this a benefit for the many versus the few. 

Marketers, I urge you to go the extra mile in your programs to give moms significant time savings. Do more than launch another quick fix or super-convenient option that packs well in a purse or adds to their already full to-do lists. Let’s get creative to enable this change. Our moms deserve it.

2 comments about "Where Is The Relief For The Busier-than-ever Mom?".
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  1. Samantha Fein from Threxy, Inc., November 3, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.

    Great post, Greg.

    It's a fine line to write about giving moms more time or referring to "busy moms" because it can sound condescending and, especially coming from a guy it can sound sexist. You did a great job explaining the problem.

    But the solution... the solution is so very hard to tackle.

    There are great brands that live to serve moms like me:
    Evernote to be my organizational side-kick, or Common Sense Media that saves me time battling with my kids over what's appropriate or not. Brands like up and coming kids' fashion app Totspot (where I'm VP of marketing) live to make a mom's clothes shopping easy.

    But if we're being honest, none of these brands -- and maybe no brand I can think of other than Amazon Prime and Google Shopping Express actually give me any kind of meaningful time back. Neither of them will let me sleep in on a Saturday morning.

    If we "busy moms" are lucky, brands will understand that we don't want our lives "back" to what it was before we had kids. We just want more time to spend with them.

  2. Rochelle Nemrow from FamilyID, November 6, 2014 at 11:32 a.m.

    In this post, Greg Smith rightly notes that Moms are busy and urges companies to go the extra mile to give moms significant time savings, not just incremental 10-seconds-here, 15-seconds-there savings. His article frequently brushes up against the Busy Mom stereotype but manages to neatly walk the line.

    At FamilyID, we talk about Moms as the CEOs of their families. Stereotypical? Yes. Reality? Yes.

    Moms are the ones investing enormous amounts of consideration, time and money signing up for sports, programs and activities, both for themselves and their families, through our website.

    Smith notes that companies “should not add to Moms’ already full to-do lists”. Hear, hear.

    “Improvement can only come if we provide meaningful utility that changes behavior.” Let’s make sure that we are not trying to fix something that isn’t broken. While a mom with a newborn may love getting groceries delivered, a mom with a toddler at home in the winter may be going stir crazy and love the idea of getting out to go to the store, with a stop at the park swings on the way home.

    Let’s make meaningful changes in the tasks that thrill no one. The niggling annoying tasks that just take up time and suck the joy out of life. Filling in the same form, with the same information for each of your five kids, because each homeroom teacher needs your emergency contact and insurance information on a purple, pink or yellow 8 ½ by 11 form. Use technology to set us free. Give us back 15 minutes, or a half hour that we can use for a nap.

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