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The biggest mistake brands make when targeting moms

Credit: Foursquare

"Our target audience is 'millennial moms,'" the CMO at a major CPG brand might tell their agency team. Yet, in today's age of digital personalization, generalized media targeting and standard demographic descriptors don't work like they used to. Smart planning is about honing in on consumers who are most likely to be receptive to your messaging, while still maintaining scale.

So we're going to let you in on a little secret—a faux pas that the CMO in our hypothetical scenario is guilty of: No two moms are alike, and the biggest mistake brands make is clumping them all together. Focusing solely on the "millennial mom," for example, isn't a surefire way to authentically connect with all millennial moms, because each mother behaves differently. Sure, millennial mothers might enjoy staying active—but are you more likely to find them at boutique fitness studios or mass-market gyms? Are they brand loyalists or bargain seekers? And is your answer based on a cultural stereotype or real data?

A chief issue that arises when targeting mothers, and any group of consumers for that matter, is that blanket terms are missing the behavioral insights that ideally should be constructing them. As not only a marketer but a mom myself, I know that details like these can make or break a campaign.

Location data and technology allow us to understand the impact that where we go has on defining who we are, in addition to the other lifestyle choices we make. Brands today need to uniquely to identify, reach and analyze more nuanced audience segments based on real-world consumer behavior. Marketers need to view something like motherhood as just one modifier, recognizing that moms also have rich lives and interests apart from motherhood that can help brands better connect with them in meaningful ways.

The time is now to dissect blanket terms based on accurate, real-world behavioral insights. Here are the three things your team can do right now to make sure your campaign isn't falling into a generic targeting trap:

1. Go beyond demographics.
Sometimes age alone truly is just a number. Because a cohort such as mothers involves all sorts of different life situations, finding other commonalities such as life stage or lifestyle offers segmentation opportunities based on attributes that can better influence purchase behavior than demographics alone. This may also lead to more impactful messaging by honing in on moments of better receptivity, since for many brands, the once traditional sales cycle has become less linear. More distinctive segments pave the way for redefining traditional tactics, creating more moments to connect with consumers.

2. Let data surprise you.
Behavioral data can also uncover some surprising insights that can revitalize marketing initiatives—and even catch you off guard. For instance, our data shows that new moms are actually 11 percent more likely than the average female U.S. consumer to visit beer bars, but 7 percent less likely to visit wine bars and 5 percent less likely to visit cocktail bars. A cultural stereotype might have pegged the opposite, or suggested new moms simply don't drink at all. A similarly interesting finding from our data shows that working moms are actually 25 percent more likely than the average female U.S. consumer to visit spas, which may not be expected of a time-strapped parent. The strongest targeting strategies welcome those revealing moments of juxtaposition, which in turn can not only smash stereotypes, but also save budgets.

3. Make it as personal as possible.
The more contextual your outreach with consumers, the better the engagement rate. Consider working with a partner that can tune up your personalization efforts by leveraging rich insights to help you better segment audiences, proximity target, win audiences away from competitors, and even optimize moment-based messaging. Leveraging data sets such as location intelligence can help brands better understand and connect with consumers, transforming personalization into true brand differentiation.

For suggestions on taking your campaigns to the next level, download our Diversity of Moms report to learn more about targeting moms by life stage and lifestyle. You'll also get access to a special bonus section on consumer spending habits around Mother's Day.

Editor's Note:
This analysis is based on foot traffic patterns from millions of Americans who make up Foursquare's always-on foot traffic panel. Indexed numbers indicate the percentage more likely than the average female U.S. consumer to frequent a specific venue or place. All data are anonymized, pseudonymized or aggregated, and are normalized against U.S. Census data to remove age, gender and geographical bias. For the full methodology, see report.

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Foursquare is a technology company that enriches consumer experiences and informs business decisions through location intelligence. Foursquare’s business solutions include Pinpoint, Attribution, Pilgrim SDK and Foursquare Analytics, which empower brands to understand and connect to targeted audiences as well as measure foot traffic and advertising success. Foursquare powers location data for Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Snapchat, Twitter, Uber and 125,000 other developers. A community of more than 50 million people use the Foursquare City Guide and Foursquare Swarm apps and websites to discover new places, explore the world and check in. Foursquare app users have written more than 95 million tips and checked in over 12 billion times. To get in touch, visit us at enterprise.foursquare.com or email ads@foursquare.com.
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