The fact that women are powerful is hardly news, but recent studies suggest that moms may very well represent the National Power Grid for the United States.
In a white paper published by Advertising Age, The Rise of the Real Mom, the Boston Consulting Group states that moms control $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion U.S. consumer spending total, or 73% of household spend. The Shriver Report, issued in October, found that women are the major breadwinners in 40 percent of families. And just last week, Google released another study on moms they are calling Four Truths about Moms and Search, created in collaboration with BabyCenter and two different research vendors between October 16 and November 17 of this year.
The details of these studies are fascinating to me as a mom and even more so in my role as a marketer. They also confirm what I already know, of course, that moms are WAY ahead of the average consumer when it comes to Search and Social Media. The ability to effectively reach moms (and that $4.3 Trillion dollar pocketbook) can drive the success of your marketing campaign and even the success or failure of your brand.
According to the Google study, women’s use of Search doubles when they become a mom, and a new mom is “born” every seven seconds in the US. This gives new meaning to the term “query volume.”
In fact, moms are using Search more than any other online activity, even more than email, with expecting moms and working moms at the top of the scale. I think any mom reading this would completely agree with these findings. I’ve referred to my pregnancies as “research projects,” since there was so much to read and learn in a very specific period of time.
It’s not surprising that moms have become experts in Search – what Google is calling “Black Belts.” Three out of four moms claim that they’ve gotten better at search since becoming a mom. They have moved beyond the 1-, 2-, or 3- word queries to long and specific strings. They want information and advice relevant to where they are right NOW.
The days of finding a mom because she’s searching for “fever” are far behind.
Now you need to be there when she’s searching for “28-month old 101.9 degree fever” or “3 year old lactose intolerant symptoms.” And you need to appear on that first page in either ads or organic results: only 31% of the moms in Google’s study move beyond page one, with 34% saying that they only look at the top of the first page.
Further, they actually expect to see trusted brands in that space, and question when they don’t appear. I have frequently used the Consumer Reports analogy for this phenomenon: There is a (perhaps) unconscious belief that Google somehow ranks search results the same way Consumer Reports might rank products in one of its reviews, with the “best” option appearing on top. Given the number of product searches a Mom does — particularly an expecting or new Mom — that 34% who only look at the top of the page could represent $1.5 trillion in spending.
Keep in mind that they are not just looking at the organic results on the Search results page: 50% said they “expected” to see well-known brands highlighted with a sponsored link. They even base their clicking behavior on that positioning with 75% admitting that location/rank aids their decision to click (compared to 67% of non-moms.)
Ask any mom — or any marketer managing search or social media for a CPG brand — what moms are looking for and talking about online, and you will likely hear the word “coupon.” The number one way moms find online coupons is Search. Doubters reading this may be surprised to learn however that moms are not simply coupon clippers, they are discovering new brands and products this way with 71% saying that they will buy a brand twice after trying it once with an online coupon.
So just because a brand marketer is pulling back on the print budget, they don’t have to lose the chance to coupon, they just need to make the coupon available online and allow the moms to find them through Search or Social Media (value-driven messaging can easily be done in 95 or 130 characters!). In fact 57% say they have delegated the task of finding coupons or deals to search engines, making couponing one search activity that is overshadowed only by locating product reviews and finding recipes.
But moms’ use of Search goes beyond products, recipes and reviews: they have formed an emotional attachment with their search engine. 47% of expecting moms, 44% of moms with infants, and 42% of moms with kids under age 12 admit that they believe Search Engines can help them be a better parent. And 65% of all moms say that they think of Google as a close friend or family member. (Of course, wouldn’t we all want a close friend or family member worth $153.4 billion? That would buy a LOT of Cheerios.)
Moms are also finding close friends of the flesh-and-bone kind online: they are reaching out to each other for community and advice — beginning with the very first glimmerings that she might be pregnant. Social Media in public forums such as Facebook, or in anonymous communities such as those on BabyCenter, is quickly becoming a major part of a mom’s life. According to the BabyCenter’s 21st Century Mom study, moms’ use of social media increased 462% from 2006 to 2009 and 70% of moms use social media on a monthly basis.
Social media allows them to save time and multi-task in a growing variety of ways such as sharing photos and videos of growing children with family far away, archiving family memories on blogs and scrapbooking sites, and comparing symptoms with other moms – allowing her to shorten or even skip a trip to the doctor.
She’s also selecting where to share her information, using open forums such as Facebook for posting the darn things that kids say (an activity I am guilty of abusing on Twitter and Facebook) and private or anonymous forums to share more intimate details or seek and give advice for personal or relationship issues. They are also taking social media offline, using sites like Meetup.com to find ways to meet other women like themselves. A quick search of Meetup finds 6,076 meet-ups across the country for moms. Luckily for marketers, there are ways to sponsor these private forums and meet-ups, allowing you to be right where the moms are!
And marketers are finding ways to talk to the moms that other moms listen to most. Articles about the recent FDA guidelines on companies providing “samples” (read: swag) to bloggers, always mentions so-called “Mommy Bloggers.” Finding those mommy bloggers who are the strongest “influencers” has been a treasure chest for building communities and driving sales.
Harnessing the power of Moms is a great way to successfully market online, particularly in segments like CPG. The key is to be ‘plugged-in’ to where moms are, and the plethora of recent data seems so show that the brightest glow of energy is coming from Social Media and Search.