Six Months With Millions Of Moms

It's easy to understand why marketers want to connect with moms: mothers are the largest consumer group in the United States. According to BSM Media, they spend $2.1 trillion annually and control 85% of household spending.

What's more difficult is figuring out how to connect with moms. Part of the problem is moms are busier than ever-shuttling kids, organizing activities and volunteering, in addition to managing households and jobs. Equally important and ominous, moms are growing wary of marketers and marketing messages--they can smell a hidden agenda from a mile away and often tune out commercial come-ons.

So where do today's moms go for trusted advice and support? Where do they share opinions, discuss topics, express preferences and simply vent? They go online, connecting with each other in online communities, and any marketer interested in what's on the minds of moms must find a way to tap into these authentic conversations.

We spent six months networking with millions of moms across the Internet, observing conversations in blogs, social networks and online communities, and interacting with them in our own online community developed to help marketing and research organizations tap into the mom market. We participated and we listened, and most important, we didn't hide our marketing affiliation. We were upfront and earned their trust. Then we transformed these conversations into the marketing insights, new product opportunities and lessons outlined below.



Lesson 1: Moms Are In Control.

Moms don't always feel that institutions, public figures, authorities or marketing organizations have their best interests in mind. They believe their circumstances are unique and that they're the only ones equipped to make decisions for their family. Many comments reinforce the notion that the government is out of line in mandating anything for personal health or raising children; many moms are highly skeptical of "organic" claims or "green" products; and many believe marketers use scare tactics to promote health products for kids.


  • Use trusted, peer mothers in your marketing
  • Make moms experts on subjects so they can make informed decisions
  • Give moms the information they seek without "spinning" it

Lesson 2: Moms Are Sharing Leisure Time With Kids.

More moms are participating in leisure activities with their kids to understand them, keep track of their interests/activities and to have fun. They're opening their own accounts on; they're playing video games with their kids; and they're taking them to thrift stores to teach the value of money.


  • Appeal to the whole family
  • Help moms turn tasks and chores into fun family activities

Lesson 3: Moms Are Making Up For Shortcomings In Education At Home.

Moms are concerned about perceived shortcomings in the educational system and are findings ways to make up for them at home. Many feel standardized tests hurt children by not recognizing their individuality, and they feel they must step in where their child needs help. Others are beginning to combine public schooling with home-schooling or are monitoring specific skills and supplementing schoolwork with additional exercises.


  • Acknowledge moms' roles as educator
  • Be moms' partner in parenting and education with programs and marketing that motivate and encourage learning
  • Use packaging/labels as lessons

Lesson 4: Moms Want To Raise Good Citizens.

Now, more than ever, moms want to raise children to be responsible, balanced adults who express their individuality. Moms believe these qualities are more important than good grades and are continually looking for ways to nurture these values.


  • Help moms lead by example with healthy products and programs that promote philanthropy and wholesome ideals
  • Reach kids with your messages through fun, safe programs that moms trust

Lesson 5: Every Activity Builds Character.

Moms see every activity as a way to build kids' character and help them become good, healthy people. For example, many moms let kids start picking food or toiletries, within reason, at an early age. Others believe giving kids a cell phone can help teach responsibility. Still others see sports as a way to teach self-control and improve one's body and character.


  • Give moms ideas for character-building activities that incorporate your products and services
  • Help kids learn responsibility and independence with products that make it easier for them

Lesson 6: Moms Take Pride In Creativity.

Moms like to think of themselves as creative. Some are proud that their cooking never tastes the same twice, while others find creative ways to make a 10-year-old to eat vegetables. And some see parenting as an evolving exercise in creativity, requiring them to learn new techniques and overcome new challenges.


  • Provide ways for moms to be creative using your products and services
  • Give moms an outlet for friendly competition where she can share the creative ways she has used your products and services

Lesson 7: Moms Want Kids To Be Kids.

Moms are concerned that society is driving kids to grow up too fast--they want their kids to enjoy youth and they want to cherish this time too. Many feel society pushes moms to use specific products, for example, encouraging moms to potty train kids early so they'll use more pull-up diapers. Moms even expressed skepticism about doctors' orders, citing cases where month-to-month developmental guidelines tended to hurry kids and push them to achieve sooner.


  • Provide moms with ways to cherish motherhood
  • Focus messaging and innovations on achieving a simpler, more hands-on style of parenting
  • Help kids be kids with activities and products that are simply fun

Lesson 8: Moms Want Better Packaging.

Moms want packaging that is environmentally friendly and they make purchasing decisions with this in mind. The "three "Rs" are key to moms: reduce, reuse, recycle. If the packaging does not support these, moms lose faith in the brand.


  • Make packaging eco-friendly
  • Educate moms about recycling, biodegrading and composting, and take the mystery out of these terms
  • Be an environmental leader and company that moms hold up as an example for others to follow

Lesson 9: Daily Workarounds Are Opportunities For Innovation.

Moms solve unmet needs with creative workarounds; understanding these workarounds creates new opportunities for innovation. For instance, some moms use a can of cola in the washer with jeans to get out grease and blood; some use a toothbrush with Comet on white sneakers; and some have found that kids eat vegetables served frozen without dressings or sauces.


  • Step inside moms' day-to-day lives to identify unmet needs
  • Identify workarounds that are opportunities for new products and services

Lesson 10: Moms Will Let You In.

In the right environment, moms are interested in sharing their opinions and ideas with companies. They want to collaborate on new products and services that will meet their needs-especially when they feel their voice counts.


  • Give moms a platform and a voice
  • Let them know you want to hear them
  • Show them the impact they have on your products and services

When it comes to participating in and leveraging online communities of moms successfully, there are two basic approaches. The first is to build your own focused online consumer community. By creating a community, you can monitor the site and stir discussion. The second approach is to become involved in existing online communities, such the Moms Insight Network from MarketTools, where more than 10,000 mothers come together to share ideas and seek advice on important issues. Existing communities provide an economical vehicle to learn from and collaborate with connected moms.

Whichever approach you use, there is no debate that moms are an increasingly influential market and that they are moving online in record numbers. Companies that learn how to successfully tap into the conversations moms are having online will have a marked competitive advantage when it comes to concept testing, product development and overall marketing to moms strategy.

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Maria Bailey is the author of Marketing to Moms: Getting your Share of the Trillion Dollar Market as well as Trillion Dollar Moms: Marketing to a New Generation of Mothers. Her company, BSM Media in Pompano Beach, Fla., connects some of Amercia's biggest brands with the Mom Market.

Emily Morris is director of product marketing for online communities at MarketTools, a leader in on-demand market research. She developed and oversees the Moms Insight Network solution, which provides companies direct engagement in the conversations of 10,000 moms in an online community called ZoomPanel Moms.

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