Insights

Connecting With Power Moms
Article

Connecting With Power Moms

Jessica Hogue, Research Director, Nielsen Online

SUMMARY: As any mother will tell you, there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Today’s Power Mom does it all—the house, the kids, the job, the bills, the shopping—and the Internet has become a tremendous enabler, bringing new meaning to multi-tasking. While the ability to connect with moms is easier than ever before with the advent of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and a growing number of “mom blogs”, are marketers really listening to her value systems? It’s time to move beyond “messaging” to “listening”.

Many have forgotten to listen to the very consumer they are trying to woo…

Marketers have made great strides in recent years to better understand and connect with moms. But in trying to perfect the message, many have forgotten to listen to the very consumer they are trying to woo. According to M2Moms®, 60% of Moms feel that marketers are ignoring their needs, and 73% feel that advertisers don’t really understand what it’s like to be a Mom. Last year’s Motrin Moms kerfuffle, in which women on Twitter and YouTube reacted to an ad offending baby-toting moms, raised the antennae of marketing managers everywhere and underscored the importance of not just reaching moms but understanding their value systems.

Initiatives like Walmart’s “elevenmoms” (a partnership through which the retail giant and a collection of mom bloggers are building a well-timed money saving community) demonstrate how marketers are taking steps forward to engage moms—particularly mom bloggers—and to develop mechanisms to absorb their input. Not all marketers have to go to such lengths to understand today’s Power Moms, but much can be gained from expanding perceived notions about this important and highly-influential demographic.

An influential force

While marketers today have a so many opportunities to connect with mom at various inflection points during her life (having a first or second baby, child entering school, return to work), the challenge is sensing her distinct needs and responding in a way that truly resonates. This forces marketers to redraw the vision of mom in our head.

Power Moms wield more influence than ever before…

As CEOs of their households, Power Moms wield more influence than ever before: moms control 85% of household spending, and are worth more than $2 trillion to U.S. brands, as reported by the Marketing to Moms Coalition. Most moms work. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1965, about 45% of women with children (under 18) were employed; by 2000, over 78% were. Whether they work out of the home, telecommute, or run a business from the home, media technology and the Internet have become a true enabler.

Linked in

Nielsen reports that Moms between the ages of 25–54 who have at least one child under the age of 18 within the home represent roughly 19% of the total online population. And they are not passive observers online. Rather, Power Moms leverage their megaphones to influence online purchase decisions. Considering the expansion in ecommerce for foods, beauty and household products—which is projected to grow to $12 billion in 2011—effectively reaching moms has real bottom-line implication.

Power Moms are 35% more likely to use text messaging/SMS on the go…

Power Moms leverage digital applications to stay organized, connect with their families, friends and mom networks (think Facebook and micro-blog platforms like Twitter, as well as mushrooming networks like MomBloggersClub.com and TwitterMoms.com), and to get things done, like paying the bills, ordering groceries, downloading coupons and hunting for ideas for the next family vacation. And lest you envision moms tapping away at their computers, know that Power Moms are also mobile enthusiasts who are 35% more likely to use text messaging/SMS on the go.

But even online, not all moms are created equal. According to M2Moms, African American mothers are more likely to read articles online (68%) and listen to music (45%), whereas Caucasian mothers are likely to frequent social networks (45%) and message boards (43%). Web 2.0 is also relevant for Latinas: blogs were the top choice among Hispanic Moms (55%) followed by social networks (42%).

Established moms are heavy online shoppers…

Prophetic profiles

Understanding the Power Mom’s online behavior affords a more holistic awareness about her passions and interests and also enables precision in online targeting for optimizing media plans. For example, established moms aged 40–50 who have three or more children in the home are heavy online shoppers, over-indexing on sites like Shopzilla, Target and Walmart compared with the average online consumer. On these sites, Power Moms are likely to be receptive to advertising deals and promotions. They also stay connected on email and are beginning to dabble in social networks, primarily Facebook.

Mothers aged 25–35 with at least one child at home are also heavy online shoppers, but the role of social networking is much more prominent. In addition to email, they are 85% more likely to spend time with Facebook compared to the average online consumer. While Power Moms aged 39–54 are only 23% more likely to post comments on social networks, marketers would be foolish to slight the value in this cohort. According to Facebook Insight, women aged 40–50 in the home are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook.

For younger moms, the Blogger’s Blog publishing site allows her to share the latest family pictures as well as articulate her views. Mom Bloggers are an increasingly critical subset of Power Moms, which are giving rise to networks like MomBloggersClub.com and TwitterMoms.com. Epitomizing the social value of communities like TwitterMoms.com, during the season premiere of the much-anticipated series “In the Motherhood,” women participated in a Twitter Party to express their opinions about the show. Now a digital trail of tweets (messages of 140 characters or less posted on Twitter) capturing real-time reaction lives on in cyberspace.

Power Moms are also increasingly engaged with video, whether co-viewing kid-focused programming like Noggin and PBS Kids, or even sites like NewBaby.com where moms upload video content on a variety of topics.

It is time to move away from developing “messaging” to integrating “listening”…

Is anyone really listening?

One of the more fundamental shifts that marketers might pursue is to overhaul their worldview of marketing to moms. It’s a nuanced point, but it is time to move away from developing “messaging” to integrating “listening”. Listening to online discussion acts as an ultra sensitive weathervane to hear the unexpected, the unprompted and to observe entirely new ways in which brands, categories and unmet needs may be expressed.

The Nielsen association map below captures a point in time (January through March 2009) in which mom bloggers were describing their value systems through thousands of online conversations. Expected themes of personal values touching on morality, integrity and ethics emerge, and topical conversations pertaining to the new Obama administration and the economy are revealed. Listening also provides a mechanism for mining the subtext; in this case the association map also reveals the relationship of aspirational goals related to parenting, love, responsibilities to work and the community, as well as the environment, and the very attainment of these pursuits.

These values are the fodder that hundreds of mom blogs wrestle with in an attempt to be heard, to connect and in some cases to influence change, all while providing marketers with a panoramic and unfiltered window into precisely what it’s like to be a mom today. While reaching Power Moms may require more finesse than in years past, the opportunities to observe, engage and develop a truly holistic perspective of these women are there for willing marketers.