Marti Barletta: How to Market to Moms

Step out of the 'Mommy' Mentality and Find Out Who They Really Are

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Mother's Day is a wonderful time for marketers to talk to moms. After all, mothers are the chief purchasing officers, or CPOs, of their households, making almost all of the spending decisions. From computers to cars, from airlines to appliances, from home improvement to high-definition TVs, women -- the majority of whom are moms -- make 85% of all household purchase decisions in the U.S. Smart marketers can't afford to ignore the power of mom's purse. New media is all the rage these days, and there are several vehicles that are doing a great job of leveraging the power of marketing to moms. Here are some examples:

Marti Barletta helps companies get smart about women. She is the recognized thought leader on marketing to women and author of the new and highly acclaimed "PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds and Business of Boomer Big Spenders," (January 2007). Her trendsetting book, "Marketing to Women," is in its second edition and has been published in more than 15 languages. She is CEO of The TrendSight Group, a think tank specializing in marketing to women, and a founding member of the distinguished Women Gurus Network. is a fabulous site that, in its own words, "is on a never-ending quest for your quintessential mom-mobile. ... We want a car that's easy to load kids into and has seats that hide baby vomit, but will also make us feel sexy and modern while driving it. Oh yeah, if it could also bring about world peace and end hunger, that would be a bonus." In terms of marketing presence, there is obviously car advertising, but also a great "seal of approval" section listing products that help "nourish, inform, organize, clean and keep safe" all mothers and families on the road. is the largest and fastest-growing social-networking site for moms on the web, with 1 million members. Moms have created more than 35,000 groups on for everything from cooking to autism to working at home to raising boys to getting tattoos. CafeMom also prides itself on providing added-value sponsorship programs that allow brands to realistically join the conversation, and blue chip brands such as P&G, Walmart, Kraft and Sony have heeded CafeMom's call.

Alaska mom Michelle Mitchell has created a custom search engine,, powered by Google, for perusing parenting related blogs. It can search over 1,500 blogs for everything from "kids birthday party ideas" at to "spring cleaning" tips from What a time saver and great way to get up-to-the-minute advice from all "the girls." I didn't see much advertising or marketing on this site, but I guarantee it will be there soon.

I've also run across a couple of interesting Mother's Day new-media marketing initiatives: JVC is sponsoring a "Here's Looking at Me" Mother's Day video contest where participants can create their own "Thanks, mom" video, upload it to the JVC contest website, and e-mail a link to share the love with mom. Participants will also be entered to win a new video camera. JVC not only is tapping into Mother's Day as a way to reach the CPOs of the family, but they are also leveraging the younger generation's propensity to "do" new media., a guide to blogs by women, recently challenged its members by asking "How many lives can we save with donations from the BlogHer community between now and Mother's Day, May 11, 2008?" It encourages members to download a Global Giving widget that drives other readers to donate to the cause of improving maternal health by supplying health care, birthing kits, education, meals and much more to women in need.

Marketing to moms makes sense, but beware these common mistakes: Don't assume "mom" is the only aspect of their lives that women with children can relate to. In fact, moms are multidimensional, and when they are in work mode, exercise mode or planning a girlfriends' getaway, the "mom" mind-set is not where their heads are.

Don't assume moms have all the money. In a way, they do; 84% of women over 40 have kids -- ergo, they are mothers. But the real driver of women's spending power kicks in when they are less involved with their kids, not throwing all their dough into diapers and formula. Don't assume moms all have toddlers in the home. Most marketers are thinking in terms of babies and younger kids but only 3.5% of women bear children each year, so that's a pretty limited target audience. And the fact is, most of the household's major baby spending is concentrated around the birth of the first child, making the niche even smaller.

One thing that surprises me is the dearth of content, info, forums, social networking and blogs oriented around the needs and concerns of moms of teens. The difficulties of adolescents are at least as bad as the tantrums of toddlers, and often with far more dire consequences. Yet no one is making it their business to reach out to this under-served and over-stressed segment.

All that said, Happy Mother's Day. If you are going after moms, make the most of the many ways to connect with them. But don't make the mistake of using stereotypical "mommy marketing."
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