To brands, the Millennial Mom is a highly coveted sub-species within the ever-desirable Millennial market. For those newbies, she is anyone born between 1978 and 1994 with a child. She’s such an exciting prospect for brands as she represents 90% of all current moms of children. Her spending power is estimated to be $1 trillion over the course of her child’s life (0-17), according to a recent Goldman Sachs study. Who wouldn’t want to try and get a piece of her spending?
There has been more coverage than there are hours in the day on the Millennial Mom’s unique needs and wants and how to engage her meaningfully with a brand. While much of what has been written is interesting or even insightful, not everyone understands that this is a huge swath of people with incredibly different needs, wants and motivations.
When we create the Millennial Mom label and lump millions of consumers into it, we are forgetting they really have just two factors in common, an age range and having children. To really win with the Millennial Mom, you have to peel several layers deeper to uncover her explicit and implicit wants and needs as individuals versus a collective.
My good friend (we’ll call her Erica) and I are both within weeks of the same age, same ethnicity, work full time in the same industry, went to graduate school together and live blocks from each other ... and we each fall into the ever-elusive Millennial Mom target market. We are essentially demographically identical.
If you asked us about our priorities for our family, at a generic level, we’d both say we want health, value and convenience. However, what we individually mean is fairly different. And here is where a lot of brands run into trouble. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to engage the Millennial Mom because our unique needs are what drive us. While we may respond with similar value drivers, how we want to execute them is totally different.
We both find ourselves time-crunched during the week but still want to provide quality, healthy meals for our families, at a good value. To Erica, this means getting a great deal on scratch ingredients and making big batches of food every Sunday to freeze for her family to eat during the week. She’s a self-proclaimed deal seeker and for her it’s all about shopping the deal and feeling like she’s gaming the system to get the best value.
For my family, it means grabbing prepared, organic food on the way home from work. For me, it’s how quickly I can get in and out of the store and on to the next task, while still giving my family high-quality food. My sense of value and savings comes from how much more it would have cost to eat out with my family than to grab something from the store. So while we both have accomplished healthy meals in a hurry at a value, how we define this is what creates our unique underlying needs.
This simple example illustrates that while we are demographically similar and might even look somewhat similar when asked about our overarching needs, when you really dive into our detailed purchase behavior to study how we act on our needs, we couldn’t be less similar. If you were to study either of our shopping baskets over the last six months, these differences would become immediately apparent.
The marketing content and products that will appeal to me are all around how little effort I have to put into generating a healthy, fresh experience for my family. For Erica, it’s the value she receives in addition to the accomplishment of cooking each weekend for her family. Trying to engage me through a recipe would be off base, but it would be a great way to engage her.
This logic doesn’t only apply to Millennial Moms. As Generation Z, the next hot demographic group, continues to rise, it’s important to keep in mind that a one size fits all approach to demographics will lead only to superficial insights that leave consumers wanting more. But, if you dive deeper to understand this group as individuals with distinct behaviors and needs, then the sky is the limit.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on June 21, 2016, in Engage:Millennials.