2017’s Most Wanted: Moms

Most Wanted 2017

If Super Bowl LI is any indication, ads that focus on diversity, unity, and inclusion are resonating with consumers in a big way. For more on this, and how you can make this messaging part of your marketing while targeting one of the most dynamic demographic groups, be sure to check out our breakdown of the LGBTQ community. You’ll see that with global spending power well exceeding $3 trillion, including the LGBTQ community in your marketing plan is essential. Want more key demographics to target this year? Check out our rundown on Millennials and sports fans.

Now, we’re looking at moms.

As a demographic, moms are an economic powerhouse—both in terms of spending and influence. To engage them as consumers, you need to understand what drives them, and how they drive the economy. We’ll identify who they are, how to find them, how to reach them, what to watch out for, what brands are succeeding, and tips to make sure your marketing plan is ready. If you only think about moms on Mother’s Day, you’re missing out.


When you get right down to it, moms are big business—because they mean business. Moms are more likely to juggle multiple responsibilities—working in the home, out of the home, managing the household, providing front-line childcare—then men. Simply put, moms do it all, all the time.

Who they are

If your idea of “moms” is more June Cleaver and Leave it to Beaver than Claire Dunphy and Modern Family, you need to update your customer profiles—and fast. In the United States, the average mom has her first child at 25. These women were born in the late 1980s and attended high school in the early 2000s. Most mothers of toddler-age children are Millennials—digital natives who grew up online. Moms are active and social both online and face-to-face, creating and pursuing activities that allow them to socialize with each other and include their kids.

Today’s moms work. They work at being moms, they are active at school and in the community, they work full-time jobs, they start their own businesses. Mompreneurs are here and they are not going anywhere.

And these women are incredibly influential, with an estimated spending power that exceeds $2 trillion each year. Additionally, according to a 2014 Ketchum Marketing to Moms study, 41 percent say they make the financial decisions along with their significant other. And 36 percent say they are in charge of household financial decisions.

How to find them

For starters, they are not at home—at least not all the time. Even stay-at-home moms are out there, busy and active. As work/life balance and flexible schedules have become a focus, even for major corporations, moms now have the opportunity to work hours that allow them to be both present at home, and available for the office.

For those who do choose to work, even “part-time” jobs are evolving as job sharing, remote working, and the gig economy have allowed moms to work hours that work for them—and their families. That’s why targeting and segmentation needs to be dynamic and able to drill-down into the subgroups and self-selecting categories. It’s not just working moms and stay-at-home moms. There are a lot of other data points out there, and you need a way to get them, and understand them.

How to reach them

With a group as large and dynamic as moms, getting your message to cut through can be a challenge. There is a lot of brand noise out there, and it’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle. One approach is to look for influencers and use them to amplify the reach and engagement of your marketing plan. Mom bloggers have a great deal of power in the marketplace and can make or break a brand.

Moms trust other moms and will often seek advice online. From baking cupcakes (and failing to bake cupcakes) to what to look for in a college savings plan, moms are looking for reliable information from a trusted source. Good content, or engaging with the right influencer, can help build trust and loyalty around your products.

Because today’s moms are on the go, they literally “live online.” Social networking is seen and used as a tool for information, entertainment, and organization. For these mobile moms, the smartphone has become the lifeline and the window, allowing them to socialize, stay connected to work, and engage with the things that mater to them. That makes the small screen a prime way to reach them.

This focus on mobile and the small screen does not mean you should abandon a true omnichannel strategy—especially when considering that these moms are everywhere. But it does mean that if you don't have a strong social/mobile component to your plan, you run the risk of missing out on some major opportunities.

And don’t forget the “mom multiplier” effect. Moms are multiple markets in one. Because they serve as primary caregivers for children and the elderly, as well as the day-to-day managers of the households, moms are likely to shop for everyone—immediate and extended family. This means a mom’s opinion about a particular product is likely to become the family opinion of that product. If Mom doesn’t like it, she is not going to buy it. So remember, even when you are not targeting moms directly, you can't afford brand messaging that turns them off.

Moms by the numbers

  • 50% of all online women are moms
  • 5% of social media moms make purchases based on recommendations
  • 75% of online moms feel online marketers don’t understand them
  • 36% of moms have made a purchase because of a sponsored ad on a social network

What to watch out for

Just as with sports fans, “pink” is not a strategy. Unless you are raising money for breast cancer, offering a product in only one color—pink—sends a message to women in general and moms in particular that your thinking around your product is limited.

Another point to remember is that the name on the card doesn’t tell the whole story. The “person” making the purchase isn’t necessarily the decision maker. This can be especially true for online sales where you have no in person contact with the customer. Even if a mom does not earn the paycheck or have her name on the household credit card, it is more than likely that she is the gatekeeper and decision maker when it comes to household expenditures. Retailers, especially those online, need to account for this with their marketing, database development, and analytics.

Brands that ‘get’ moms

In addition to Toys R Us, Babies R Us, and maternity stores that offer “stork parking” for expecting and new moms, a range of other businesses have focused on accommodating and understanding this demographic.

Other retailers have found ways to bring moms and kids into the store together. Target’s Cartwheel app offers a range of benefits, from in-store specials to loyalty programs that make it easier for moms to get in and get out and get what they need. While Barnes and Noble offers story times and programs for kids that give mom a break and allow her to shop and socialize with other moms. Lululemon Athletica provides options for moms to get together before work or school, or on weekends with early-morning, in-store yoga and exercise programs. Working moms face a unique time crunch, and are more likely to rely on online retailers for even basics. Amazon and Diapers.com allow moms to set recurring orders so the diapers, peanut butter, jelly, and Gold Fish crackers are always in the pantry—and free and expedited shipping options are always appreciated.

Around Mother’s Day, 2016, JetBlue launched an ad specifically created to change the experience for moms traveling with babies. On a flight from New York to Long Beach, CA, passengers were informed that each time a baby cried, they’d receive 25 percent off the cost of their ticket—and if babies cried four times, their flight would be free. The ad included interviews with moms flying with their babies, explored how stressful it can be to receive glares and dirty looks for other passengers, and demonstrated that JetBlue could relate to the anxieties and fears moms have when traveling.

Another favorite brand of moms and kids is Cheerios. In addition to making inclusion part of their brand messaging, Cheerios has recognized the key role that their products can play for moms, kids, and families. General Mills has capitalized on this through a range of online initiatives aimed at the many ways Cheerios are used—breakfast food, snacks, ingredients in recipes, craft material, and even a learning tool. Through Pinterest boards aimed at gluten-free recipes and “Cheerios Academy,” a program that encourages creativity, Cheerios engages moms online with helpful and easy to access content that is curated to make their lives easier.

They key here is the understanding—identifying what can be difficult for moms and making it easier, or just showing that you care.


How to succeed

Start with service. When it comes to customer service, women have higher expectations than men. This is even more important to remember for moms, and something retailers need to consider “on the ground” and in “real time.” Creating an in-store environment that is welcoming for moms—and that means factoring kids into the mix—can be essential. If a store gets a reputation of not being mom/kid friendly, that image can be hard to shake. If a retailer or service business creates a welcoming environment, it is likely to be amplified by positive reviews and strong word of mouth—online and off. When you elevate the customer experience for moms, that time and effort is likely to be rewarded.

But first you need to get them in the door. And to get them in the door you need to engage them where they are, and in ways that cut through the noise.

Here are 4 steps you can take to effectively reach and engage today’s moms:

Make it mobile

Moms are mobile. Your marketing needs to be, too. If your marketing program isn’t optimized for mobile—that’s step one; do it now. The smartphone is the screen you want to be on, with 70 percent of moms owning one. Most moms never have it out of arms reach. And with tactics including Mobile Conquesting, using location based targeting, combined with demographic and behavioral targeting, to reach potential and current customers with display ads directly through their mobile devices, you can interact with moms and steer them toward your products and locations no matter where they are.

Focus on the car

Moms spend a lot of time in the car—stuck in traffic on their way home from work, carpooling to and from school, or waiting while kids are finishing up an activity. The car can sometimes feel like a second living room, a place for snacks, homework, and phone calls. Add in the reports that estimate that by 2025 about 60 percent of cars will be connected to the internet, shows that now is the time to start looking for ways to reach moms in their vehicles.

Encourage sharing

Moms tend to be highly engaged with social media, seeing it as much a tool as entertainment. It makes connecting and communication easier and more in the moment than ever before—and it also encourages sharing. This has lead to a large mom-to-mom effect that can spread your brand message quickly. When moms are motivated to share, the impact can be measurable and immediate. The key is to give them an added reason to share with reward programs that speak to what they want.

Be real

Like other demographics, moms expect real, authentic connections with and from brands. And in many respects, because they are connected with such a wide range of brand messages, they have a keen nose for sniffing out the bull. They want marketers to view them as individuals, not as a stereotype—a challenge when brands are trying to create workable customer profile

Make connections that matter

In the United States, moms control the purse strings at home, with numbers that exceed $2 trillion per year, that’s roughly equal to the seventh largest economy in the world. But despite this market power, marketers still have a long way to go to make the connections that matter. According to a recent survey of 3,500 American moms by BSM Media, 65 percent feel that they are “underserved” by advertisers–either because the mom-focused ads don’t resonate or because the ads aren’t aimed at moms at all.

Being a mom does not completely define these women, but it is a big part of who they are. Messaging needs to address them outside the “mom with kid” paradigm, without forgetting the “mom with kid” dynamic. If that sounds difficult, it’s because it is.


Sources: Forbes, Valpak, PR Newswire, SheConomy, Ad Week, Big Spaceship, BSM Media