Can Moms Save Us From the Recession?

Five Rules for Marketers to Understand Their Purchase Behavior

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Sarah Moore
Sarah Moore
Betsy Westhoff
Betsy Westhoff

As a marketer, you may be asking yourself: Are there any consumers out there who will be shopping this year? The answer is a resounding yes. Moms will keep shopping. They have to. Moms control 85% to 90% of household spending on everyday, Warren Buffet-advocated items, according to a BSM Media Study, which also projects household spending to be $3 trillion in 2012, up from $2.1 trillion today. In this economy 85% may play an even bigger role to your bottom line. Your efforts to understand their purchase behavior are more important than ever.

Moms have told us that they are willing to make trade-offs, and it's this sensibility that will endure even after penny-pinching days are over. We talked to moms from around the country to get their read on a couple of key questions and came up with the following rules:

Understand Her Priorities
Basic needs prevail. Moms report that their focus is on getting it right for their family first and then finding small ways to reward themselves. One mom in New York told us, "I'll forgo that new pair of jeans and indulge in little treats like a new magazine, a new shade of nail polish."

Our take: Items that the children need will remain at the top of her priority list. Simple indulgences for mom will follow. Where does your brand fit in that list of priorities?

'Economic' Nesting Is in
In a post-9/11 world, nesting was a social issue. Today it's an economic one, as 81% of moms have cut back on eating out, and 72% have reduced out-of-house entertainment altogether, according to a Nov. 25, 2008, USA Today/Gallup Poll.

For marketers, this means that she'll interact with her favorite brands in new ways. "Starbucks only once every few weeks (or brewed at home every day) and homemade or frozen pizza vs. delivery on Friday nights," a Chicago mom of two small children told us.

Sarah Moore and Betsy Westhoff are founders of MomWise, a consultancy focused exclusively on helping marketers communicate more effectively with moms.

Our take: Innovation and marketing to help her understand how she can enjoy the brands she knows and loves in her home will attract her attention. Is your brand a part of the home experience?

Celebrate Savings
Capitalize on Mom's confidence as a smart shopper. She has to shop anyway, so keep the experience upbeat and engaging. Our respondents overwhelmingly told us that, yes, sales work. But as one suburban mother of two teenage daughters told us, "Everything is on sale," so make it fun. Getting a steal at Target (that Isaac Mizrahi "designer" dress) gives her more of a thrill than ever.

Our take: Make the shopping experience (in store or online) as positive as possible. This is not the time to cut back on quality or service. Communicate that you value your customers so that your brand remains strong in her mind.

Help Her Help You
Moms are willing to "in-source" vs. "outsource" at this time. For example, she'll undertake new tasks at home, such as manicures, meal prep, hair coloring, extra household cleaning chores. Though this trend was emerging before the recession, confident moms will view successful completion of these tasks as increasingly gratifying.

Our take: Support her success. Understand how a "beginner" will approach the task, innovate, offer her extra time and link simplicity to high-quality results.

Green Is Still the New Black
Mom was the leader in going green. Today she is still committed but may be stuck between doing what she knows is right and protecting her pocketbook.

What this means for marketers is that she'll be looking for products that are both eco-friendly and affordable. A Prius that saves money on gas and is environmentally friendly sounds right; a $3 apple from Whole Foods may not, no matter how important organics are to her.

Our take: Moms may no longer be able to justify paying premium prices to be green. Marketers can help her with this dilemma by offering her ways to help the planet but not break the bank.

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