Marketers Search for the Digital Mom
Marketers used to think they knew us moms, how to reach us and how to sell to us but now in the digital age they aren't so sure. So they are studying and polling us trying to figure out how to tailor their message to us plugged-in moms.
There are a lot of studies floating around that index and classify today's digital mom. Microsoft Advertising recently published one as well. It is called "We're Talking About Moms: the decision-maker, influencer and digital doyenne" (full disclosure: I contributed some quotes to the paper and I spoke on a Microsoft Advertising panel).
Commercials try and paint us as neurotic, germ-obsessed, apron-wearing throwbacks but what is coming out in the studies is that we are so much more than the cardboard cutout of a mom. We plugged-in moms may already know that we have diverse interests and abilities, and hopefully, the marketers are now waking up to the fact.
The Microsoft study found:
More than half of us never unplug at all. I know that is true for me. My smartphone goes everywhere with me and is my research tool, waiting-time killer as well as my social media connector. Now that I have a smartphone I am much smarter and plugged into all types of information -- current news, recipes and shopping and also children's and environmental issues, books and music. (The maps feature is also a big one for me because I am often lost, even in my own city).
We multi-task and use many different platforms. Of course we do! I've got six pages open on my browser right now: two of them are recipes; one is my kid's school timetable and the rest of them are work. Since I share this computer I have to seamlessly use my phone as well. And since I do share this computer I want the advertising to be appropriate to all family members.
We adopt new technology as needed. There seems to be this cultural idea that it is the dads that are plugged in, but it is the mothers who are tracking their kids by text, emailing the teachers, monitoring Facebook and doing whatever it takes to keep in contact and get the job done.
We want a lot of things out of our online life. We want help when we need it, we want to connect with others and we want to be entertained. Mothers are extremely active on social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) and not just because we are monitoring our kids. We "crowdsource" for answers to simple and complex problems, we reach out because sometimes parenting can be lonely and we want to watch Miley smoking a bong for a break just like everyone else.
We influence each other. Word of mouth has always been extremely important on the playground and that has moved on to the 24/7 world of the Internet. Marketers seem surprised to learn that we trust each other more than we trust them.
We make most of the shopping decisions. We use the Internet for research and advice and once we decide, we tell our husbands what to buy. Another study by Kelly Fay Group found that moms mention product names six more times a week than other American women and nine times more per week than the average man. This means we talk a lot about shopping and specific brands which makes us susceptible to advertising.
We want value and time-savers. So we shop and we chat but when it comes to the Internet we want value back. We want solutions to our problems whether it is for our kids' scratchy throat, meal planning, what to wear out for a night with the girls or how to handle our kid's reading problems.
What didn't I like about the study? I don't like being considered a monolithic group. I am more than a mom; I had interests and passions before I became a mother and I still have them. Also, the study didn't break mothers down into categories of women who worked full- or part-time outside of the home; single mothers; or new and experienced mothers. Does birthing a child really mean that we start behaving the same way no matter how many kids we have or our age or our education? Or are we all just trying to figure it out as we go along and technology just happens to help?
What do you think about all the research on digital moms? Do you agree with the findings? Do you feel like online advertising reflects your interests and needs?
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