Mommy Dearest

Who is Mom in 2005? In the '50s, it was the housewife; in the '60s, the awakening mom; the '70s, back-to-work mom; the '80s, super mom; the '90s, soccer mom... But in the 2000s, there's no typical, monochromatic mom. Life stage, lifestyle, ethnic, technological, and cultural factors have shattered the traditional demographic understanding that used to connect marketers to mothers.

How important is she? As the person in charge of 80% of all household spending -- that's a $1.6 trillion market -- she's someone marketers better know intimately. But which Mom do you want to meet? Gen X moms? Latina Moms? Grandmoms? "Mom" has more faces than ever, and each wants her specific needs addressed. According to BSM Media, 70% of moms say advertisers are not acknowledging or recognizing their needs as mothers in ads, 55% frequently see ads that send the wrong message, and 30% see ads that offend them.

To connect with Mom today, you need to understand the many dimensions that term covers, then start speaking -- and innovating -- to meet her needs. At my company, Iconoculture, we think there are five Moms marketers need to understand:

Millennial Mom

Age 27 or younger, Millennial Mom is the newest mom on the block, and she's the first generation to use technology to seamlessly blend work and life. Not long out of college or high school, she's facing many firsts: marriage, babies, insurance, jobs, maybe even owning a house. Hyper-connected and beyond tech savvy, Millennial Mom's world is both physical and virtual, bringing social connection and life-skills management as close as a computer or cell phone. She's busted out of previous generations' isolation challenges during those early, tethered-to-the-house years. You'll find her plugged into Myspace.com or TheNest.com, sharing worries, excitement, and ideas with her online family. Products like mythum mobile coupons and Infinity Broadcasting Visual Radio -- delivered right to her cellphone -- resonate with her values of connectivity and access, seamlessly going where she goes.

Gen X Mom

The Gen X Mom, age 28 to 40, witnessed the excesses of the '80s and watched Boomer Super Moms and their super stress. They've vowed to create more balanced lives for themselves and their families. "Good enough" is a potent theme running through the conversations of these confident, committed women. Magazines like Brain, Child, Hip Mama, and Mamalicious unflinchingly face -- and embrace -- the reality about what it means to be a mom. Instead of fashion tips and recipes, these magazines are filled with supportive but non-sugar-coated daily realities. Xers also are a highly research-driven generation. Find them on BabyCenter.com looking for straightforward information from authorities as well as their peers. Authenticity attracts Gen X Moms and is already influencing mainstream media. Kill the hype and super-sell. Straight, smart honest talk tweaked with fun connects with Gen X Mom.

Latina Mom

Latina Moms are on a quest to define their identity and place in the world. They're engaged in a tug of war between new influences and tradition, focusing solely on family and exploring newfound personal power. Online sites like LatinaMami.com and books like Border-Line Personalities empower Latina Moms as they navigate new territory. Direct mail has become the most effective way to reach Latina Moms, who are in a balancing act with language, social customs, even the food she feeds her family. Help her find ways to retain the best of Latino and Anglo cultures in her approach to self and family.

Boomer Mom

The years between 41 and 59 can be tumultuous. Boomer Moms are dealing with growing teenagers, jobs, and aging parents. Those who had kids in their late 30s and early 40s are facing the same issues as younger moms. Plus, if that weren't enough, menopause, retirement planning, and health concerns further complicate the picture. Boomer Moms want solutions to ease the frenzy without sacrificing involvement or warm connections. Businesses like Let's Dish and Simply Supper retain the personal touch in meal prep while leaving the dishes to someone else. In-store healthcare at Rite Aid and Target give quick access for common ailments. Boomer Mom is battling on all fronts to keep life on track and get time back wherever possible.

Grandmom

Having paid their dues as parents, being a grandmom is an exciting life stage. Young, energetic, active, and involved, never-grow-old Boomers (the average age of a grandparents is 47) and young Matures are redefining grandparenting. They want to experience life with their grandkids, a desire that's already changing the travel industry. Grandtripping and "togethering" trips are big on fun and education, part of the urge to give grandkids that smart head start. That's also fueling sales of edutainment toys and technology -- marketed directly to Grandmom. She has the time, vitality, money, and enthusiasm to play an important role in her grandkids' lives.

Of course Moms across generations as well as ethnic and socioeconomic lines are all motivated by love and the desire to keep her family secure and thriving on all levels. Broad innovations that communicate those enduring values reach a broad audience. But to zero in on the buying power in Mom's purse, backpack, or wallet is to understand her life stage and view of the world. Yes, she's keeper of the family, but she also wants to be heard and seen for who she is and wants to become.

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