Conclusion: The Generational Foundations of a Woman s Buying Mind


Conclusion: The Generational Foundations of a Woman 's Buying Mind

Before your brand can even begin to reflect the perspectives of the women it serves, you have to understand the societal and cultural influences that have taken hold of them. Whatever extra effort you expend in order to learn about and understand the general commonalities of the women in your market will become clear in the way you present your product or service. And, this is a good thing.

Women of all generations seek a connection with those brands that seem to authentically understand them. By doing the homework to thoroughly comprehend the events and realities that have shaped these generations, you can more clearly see the nature of each woman's natural buying inclinations. From there, adding and taking away the filters of a woman's life transitions and roles, among other things, will produce a much more accurate place from which to build your new consumer connection.



Chapter 6: Looking Beyond Generations ”The Buying Filters of Life Stages and Roles

Overview

Though the quickest way to segment the women's market may be by generation, the common cross-generational traits and roles a woman plays in the course of her life may carry even more weight. The unplanned -for circumstances and life experiences of the here and now may more directly affect a woman 's buying needs. For example, although she may have been born into Generation X, her most immediate needs may be all about taking care of her kids or heading up her own business.

When a brand's products and services support a woman's prime focus of the day ”her children, her career, the elder she cares for or her workout at the gym ”they reflect an awareness of the life stages and extenuating circumstances in her life.

For example, just imagine a group of today's mothers dropping off their children for preschool: some are age 45 and some are 28, some are running off to work and others are stay-at- homes , but their mommy life stage gives them more in common than not. When women are in the mom stage, you are less likely to tempt them with spontaneous travel opportunities or gourmet cooking clubs, because their focus is their kids (and their health, college tuition and so on) ” the time demands of which preclude many luxuries .

The shared emotions and concerns of moms can be described as one big filter through which they see everything during that particular life stage: products, ad campaigns and your company's social causes.

In this chapter, we'll explore a few key life stages for women and then go into the possible array of roles they might play in a lifetime (or even in a single day). It's fascinating to consider how many seemingly unrelated things can affect their consumer purchases, or filter their buying minds.



Single Women, Businesswomen and Moms

Single women, businesswomen and moms may span ages from teens to late fifties, and beyond. And, women may experience two life stages concurrently, if they choose to maintain their jobs while they raise their families, for example. Or, singlehood may be the life stage that currently takes precedence and more significantly influences their buying behavior than does their career. You just can't predict.

So, in order to reach women in these roles, you need to deliver products and services that represent convenience, ease-of-use and reliability. We've got an easy mantra for you to keep in mind when trying to connect with any women in the single women, businesswomen and moms roles: "Make their lives easier."

Let's focus in on those three groups ”single women, businesswomen and moms ”and then consider ways to ensure that women, in whatever life stages or roles, see your brand as part of their lives.

SINGLE WOMEN

Though in years past the solo phase in a woman 's life may have been a short one my, how things have changed.

Due to a variety of contemporary social trends ”including greater career opportunities for women, higher divorce rates and longer life expectancy ”women today are simply spending more periods of their lives living solo. While "single" was once the term reserved mainly for the time between a woman's schooling and inevitable marriage , the word now covers the series of living-alone stages that occur randomly over the course of a woman's extra long life (research shows that women now live six or more years longer than men).

In fact, U.S. Census Bureau data indicated that in 2001 there were over 17 million women living alone, which was more than double the number of women living alone twenty years before.

Part of the reason for that growing number of solo women overall is that there has been a steady decline in the rate of marriages over the past thirty or so years, with 55 percent of adult women married in 1998, down from 66 percent in 1960. [1] And, this changing marriage rate coincides with an increase in women's education levels and their participation in the commercial workforce. [2]

While some of these women have experienced some years in marriage, many never take that step at all these days. Some single women co-habit with male or female partners and some share group houses in a "family" made of friends . The Census Bureau more formally segments the "unmarried women" (with or without children) into the following subgroups: never married, separated, divorced and widowed .

With all those variables to consider, single women remain well worth pursuing as a consumer market. They are poised to become one of the most influential economic forces of this century, with the aggregate solo female income estimated to reach $199.3 billion in 2006, up 20 percent from 2001. [3] Other single lifestyle trends to keep in mind include:

  • Women living solo are, for the most part, content and in control. These women don't see their status as a rejection of the concept of marriage, but rather a refusal to bargain away elements of their lifestyles in exchange for a partnership. Whether they are heterosexual or lesbian, these women are often single by choice.

  • They intentionally take on motherhood without a partner. With more women marrying later in life or choosing to remain single forever, it is becoming more common for solo women to have children outside of marriage. Some women in this segment may simply consider motherhood a part of their self-fulfillment. This motherhood on their terms will demand a very different marketing appeal from that used to reach traditional moms.

  • They have unconventional living arrangements. Single women are creating lifestyles that work for them as individuals, paying little attention to how they "ought to" do things. Of course, where and how a single woman chooses to live can have a dramatic impact on the marketplace . Here are a few examples to consider: [4]

    • Single women who live in urban areas fuel leisure and entertainment spending.

    • Suburbanite single women fuel the multibillion dollar hardware and home improvement industry.

    • Singles living with their parents spend their disposable income on whatever pleases them most.

THE BUYING FILTERS OF SINGLE WOMEN

A single woman's distinct identities, aspirations and modes of consumption will be key filters through which she sees your brand. With many in the solo group focusing on the positive aspects of their lives, they are driven to pursue mental and physical self-development, and your marketing approach should reflect that. Blow that "spinster" stereotype out of the water! (But, also keep in mind that not everyone resembles the Carrie Bradshaw character in HBO's popular series Sex and the City. )

A single woman today will tap into her circle of friends for purchasing advice as well as for social activities and travel. Marketers should pay close attention to how and why single women connect through these networks, and be aware of the ways solo women will regularly take a friend's advice over anything (including your advertising messages).

A few more details of the life filters through which single women may see your brand include:

Family redefined. As marriage rates plunge, community and friendship have become ever more important for single women. "Family" has taken on a whole new meaning for them and may include friends, pets and even online communities, as well as their blood relatives. [5] Perhaps as a way to fill any nuclear family gap, women are now gathering around numerous and more diverse common interests, from Pilates classes to book clubs, cycling groups or investment gatherings.

Healthy lifestyles. To begin with, many single women are avid exercisers and proactive health consumers. Even in the midst of their busy schedules, they still tend to have more time for such pursuits than their coupled or married friends. But beyond the fitness and health interests, single women have time (in general) to more often participate in activities like adventure travel, outdoor sports and moviegoing. These women will certainly notice the products and services that fuel their active lifestyles in a healthy and convenient way.

Living a spiritual journey. For some single women, personal development means improving the spirit as well as the body and mind. Their personal spiritual practices may emphasize introspection or a formal religion, but single women are also taking advantage of educational opportunities to attain personal fulfillment such as reading books and magazines, attending seminars and retreats and forming spiritually based groups.

Empowered, not waiting. Single women are often more than happy to settle into their lives long before they find a husband or life partner. They purchase typical bridal registry items such as china, furniture, appliances and other bigger-ticket household products ”all for themselves .

REFLECTING SINGLE WOMEN IN YOUR BRAND

As with other segments of the women's market, single women are looking for fair treatment, improved standards of service and products or services that demonstrate a respect and understanding of their viewpoints. The most effective marketing messages will be those that reflect their intelligence, honor their myriad lifestyle choices and affirm their self-esteem and independent spirit.

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC TIPS FOR REACHING SINGLE WOMEN

Consumer packaged goods. Smaller portioned groceries as well as products that more specifically highlight the health concerns of women are in great demand by singles. For example, functional foods with soy, calcium and organic ingredients strongly mirror a single woman's healthy and empowered lifestyle.

Real estate. Homes that particularly cater to a single woman's priorities, and are insightfully designed and built, will likely become more popular. For example, adjoining residences for single women and partners and friends who wish to live nearby, but not with one another, should sell well. In addition, homes that focus their square footage and building budget on the main living areas (not extra bedrooms) will suit many solo lifestyles. And, in general, the current small-house trend will be especially significant among women strongly motivated by environmental, community and social causes.

Travel. With such typically fast-paced and highly active daily lives, single women are also more likely to approach travel in the same way. This group of women, young or old, have become a major influence on the further emergence of the adventure travel industry. Single women demonstrate their active and empowered traits by networking with other women to make group plans or to travel together for safety reasons. They will then take their community of travel a step further by sharing their experiences in support and encouragement of one another's future journeys. For example, Journeywoman.com is an online community "by women and for women" that presents travel through the eyes of empowered and active women, many of whom are single.

Entrepreneurship. Single women with vim, vigor, ideas and money are helping shape how business will be conducted from here on out. They are forming their own companies, and evolving into a class of telecommuting employees and entrepreneurs that demand flexible schedules and decision-making authority.

SINGLE-WOMEN-FOCUSED INDUSTRY STUDY: SNACKS AND SMALL PORTION MEALS

More Americans are living by themselves and are losing their interest in preparing food: It just doesn't seem worth it when they will be the only ones eating . The food industry has monitored this trend and has resized and repackaged many items to better serve the solo household.

Single women, in particular, who tend to seek healthy options in the prepackaged food they buy, seem to have fueled the industry. The ever-popular prewashed salad greens in a bag, for example, were one of the first packaging innovations to really serve women (single or not). Now, perhaps that product should be fine- tuned to half portions, because the reality is that the second half often goes to waste. Following are a few ways the packaged and snack food industry has responded to the particular needs of single women:

  • Snacks, instead of meals. Whether it's the healthiest choice or not, the daily diets of many single women often include more snacks than traditional meals. In the course of their workdays and packed social schedules, eating has become more an afterthought (as in "Gee, I forgot to eat a real meal today") or just a quick response to sudden hunger.

    As this societal trend takes over, grazing or snacking has gained social acceptance, as a way to meet daily caloric and nutritional needs. Health and nutrition magazines are also touting the benefits of eating five or six smaller meals, as a way to more evenly fuel a human body over the course of a day, as opposed to going longer periods between three larger meals. Furthermore, the increasing time pressures on U.S. consumers, driven by longer working and commuting hours in many cases, are another reason people aren't pausing for the luxury of a full-course meal.

  • Portable foods. As the number of meals eaten outside the home has increased, consumer desire for easy-to-prepare food has led to strong growth in snack bars, meal replacement drinks, and frozen and chilled food ”or anything that can possibly be eaten with one hand. Snack bars, which are often in the form of high-protein energy bars, are a convenient meal replacement that requires no cooking or utensils. Energy bars, in particular, offer the full complement of nutrients that women, in particular, desire ”and all within a small portable package.

    Luna Bars (a division of Clif Bar, Inc.) are energy bars that have become a staple for many women we know. Each bar contains the full complement of women-specific nutrients and tastes good! As evidenced by the content on their Web site and the events they sponsor, the company effectively connects with its women customers by marketing in authentic ways as well.

  • Single servings. For those consumers who want more variety in their portable eating, single-serve packages of products like Lean Pockets, milk and cereal bars are filling the need. Frito-Lay thought of it all by presenting "Go-Snacks," a serving of savory snacks in a crush-proof, resealable plastic container that fits in a car's cup holder. Along those same lines, Campbell Soup has introduced a portable, microwaveable canned soup called "Soup at Hand," developed to allow consumers to sip soup from one hand while out and about.

Partially prepared foods that require just a few added ingredients to create a one plate meal, and the ultragourmet salad bars that also offer a variety of main and side dishes, are a few more ways that brands, grocery stores and fast food outlets are heeding the snacking and mobile meal-time needs of the single women consumer.

BUSINESSWOMEN

Workingwomen and female entrepreneurs, who together comprise the businesswomen market, wield mighty economic influence today. And the effect of that economic influence can be felt in both the business and nonbusiness realms. What women learn in making business purchases will likely be incorporated into their off- hour buying behavior. As holistically minded as most women are, it would be difficult to differentiate their personal consumer buying knowledge from their business consumer experiences.

The heavily consuming groups of businesswomen and moms frequently overlap in age ranges and certain characteristics, and they often do both "jobs" simultaneously . Given their time constraints and need to quickly gather health and family information, the Internet came into common use none too soon for the women living this duality. We'll start by taking a particularly close look at businesswomen and how to reflect their needs through online marketing efforts.

Within the businesswomen market segment, women who own businesses and female entrepreneurs, as opposed to workingwomen in general, are becoming an even more powerful market segment with every year. In fact, when you specifically examine the segment in the United States of privately held women-owned firms (where at least 50 percent of the ownerships is female), you see some incredible numbers . As of 2002, there were 3.9 million privately held 50 percent women-owned businesses, employing about 9 million workers, and generating $1.17 trillion in sales. [6] Of these firms, over 166,000 have revenues of at least $1 million and about 6,900 have one hundred or more employees. The largest concentration of these firms is in the service sector, followed by retail, construction, finance, real estate and insurance.

BUSINESSWOMEN'S BUYING FILTERS

Most workingwomen juggle an array of responsibilities and want to quickly extract the essence from important topics in order to make buying decisions for work and home. Just as making lives easier is a good tip for marketing to single women, so is it a good rule of thumb for businesswomen (who may also be single, we know). The difference is that marketing to women in their business roles puts your brand top of mind for their personal purchases as well. Serve one role well and capture her attention for the purchases she makes in her other roles.

Since women, as business owners or in other roles, are likely to conduct exhaustive advance research on significant purchases via independent sites, why not establish your brand or site as their onestop resource? For example, if your brand risks providing thirdparty product reviews to support their prebuying behavior, these women will learn to head to your site first when making their next purchase, for business or personal use. This feature could look like a matrix comparing the features and benefits of the top brands in your industry, or a comprehensive checklist helping customers think through the variables involved in the purchase.

In addition, the relationship-building characteristic of most women will likely affect their business habits as well. Take vendor selection, for example: As a relationship-minded woman considers her hiring or buying, she will be more likely than male entrepreneurs to seek advice from associates and advisors, and she will place more emphasis on vendor quality, service and reputation. [7]

In addition to seeking quality over price, a few more purchase influencers for businesswomen include:

  • Brand loyalty

  • Desire for customer service and training

  • Value of efficient Web sites

Overall, the way these very busy women purchase goods and services seems to reflect a tendency toward efficiency combined with social awareness. Other shared characteristics of businesswomen include:

Combine business and personal buying. Eighty percent of women employees and 74 percent of women business owners say that they typically combine business and personal errands or tasks in a single shopping trip. [8] To better serve a businesswoman's efficient buying tendency, for example, brands may consider expanding inventories to include products (personal and bulk portions) and services (express shipping and postage ) that fit both categories of items on a woman's shopping list.

Influenced by environmental and social responsibility. For businesswomen ”entrepreneurs and employees alike ”the environmental friendliness of a product exerts a major influence on their consumer purchasing decisions. Many of these women also agree that the social responsibility of the company offering the product or service is a major influence on their decision to buy or not.

Hiring help. Given their focus on saving time, it is no surprise that women business owners are more likely to contract for housecleaning and lawn services. Workingwomen, in general, seem to be finding it easier to let go of the superwoman ideal, admit they need help and feel empowered to get it.

REFLECTING BUSINESSWOMEN IN YOUR BRAND

Workingwomen seem more likely to take shopping cues from their business realms into their personal realms, than the reverse. For example, a woman who becomes accustomed to subcontracting her graphic design needs for business may then be that much more likely to realize the benefit and stress-relief of hiring out yard or housecleaning jobs.

How can marketing messages be developed to incorporate these clues to a businesswoman's buying behavior? A few ideas include:

  • Promote the quality and advantages of your product or service first. The price seems to carry a bit less weight for workingwomen.

  • Develop products that can be used in both businesses and households to leverage the brand loyalty of a businesswoman. This may mean repackaging the product or offering different sizes for each use. Costco and other warehouse retailers have successfully embraced the concept. In the past you would buy a huge box of corn flakes, and by the time you finished it you were sick of them. Now three different standard sizes (often with different flavors) are bundled into a single variety pack ”which allows customers to buy in bulk, but the packages are easy to divide and share.

  • Offer product training with a personal touch. Perhaps because working women may be a bit less inclined to take the time to study an instruction manual, they consistently rank tech support and customer service as high priorities when choosing vendors . So, offer as much training and coaching as possible, and then be sure to promote that benefit in your marketing materials.

  • Provide ways to speed through a purchase. Both online and off, many businesswomen are inclined to be speedy shoppers.

  • Present full- and fast-service Web sites. Sites that will resonate deeply with businesswomen have quickly loading pages, resource sections with comparison information and well-organized links. Where appropriate, it's a great idea to also give women the choice of how much time they want to spend and how they want to use the technology (by providing a text option alongside an audio or a video download, for example).

  • Integrate your retail experience. Cater to how workingwomen are likely to shop, and through which channels. For example, in-depth information serves a great purpose online, where women are likely doing more intense research. However, that extra detail may clutter a catalog or an in-store product description. On the returns front, demonstrate your understanding of women's busy lives by offering several options; for example, in-store returns of online purchases are a welcomed option provided by the typical retailers in most malls across the country.

  • Fully utilize online channels. As we mentioned above, the efficiency of the Internet realm is a direct match for a businesswoman's strategic buying mind. Fine-tuning your online efforts will not only keep your existing online customers happy, but it will also help forge great beginnings with any women who have been more tentative about online buying and are just now beginning to shop on the Internet.

WORKINGWOMEN-FOCUSED INDUSTRY STUDY: BUSINESS TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY

Female business travelers are one of the fastest growing travel segments in the country. From better security to healthier room-service offerings and attractive health club facilities, this is certainly one of those cases where improving the product by focusing on women's needs helps better serve men as well. More and more hotel chains, from the W Hotels to Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Hilton, have wisely changed design and layout and have further developed amenities to better serve their female customers, who now make up almost half of the business traveling public. [9]

Security is the first concern of women, with location and proximity to clients of secondary concern. Once they feel comfortable with a certain chain, female business travelers tend to stick with it. So, what are the women-specific changes that positively affect their choices?

Security, comfort and room amenities are key. As of late 2001, after a ten-year lull in hotel development, chains were actively marketing the design of new properties to women by including brighter lobbies , tighter security and more open spaces, all of which discourage the intrusion of strangers. A few specifics of the changes that have been made to accommodate women business travelers include:

  • Security. In addition to having deadbolts on their hotel room doors, women want to be notified by phone before room service staff members knock on their door. With the woman traveler in mind, the W Hotels chain has developed more airy and open guestroom hallways, with a window at both ends, while other chains have been investing in more security cameras .

  • Food service. Solo diners in heavily business-traveled hotels are no longer relegated to back corners of the hotel's restaurant. According to studies, many businesswomen actually prefer to eat in their rooms, so room layouts are now more likely to accommodate meal trays, while healthier, more nutritious cuisine is included on the room service menu. [10]

  • Design. Hotels are being designed with a much more residential feel, eschewing dark and paneled decors. W Hotels, in particular, hosts a "living room" rather than a lobby, with plenty of spaces for a single traveler to feel comfortable. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, as part of their "Women on Their Way" efforts, also promotes their more open and well-lit lobbies.

  • Extras. It is in this "extras" category where you can see strong evidence of women-specific hospitality developments. W Hotel amenities include all-natural fiber furnishings in guest rooms, with particular attention to high-quality linens; special bathroom lighting and large bath areas; and in-room massage. Wyndham offers Herman Miller ergonomic work chairs and Premium pillow-top mattresses and bed linens in some rooms, with in-room Internet access, which is becoming standard in most business travel hotels. Many hotel chains, in an effort to really deliver for women, offer amenities like the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel's "do not forget" closet that includes everything from hosiery to neckties; or they provide a "technology butler " for those with computer- related questions. And, many of the large hotel chains, including the W, currently promote their pet friendliness (with some restrictions). That is an extra we can relate to!

MOMS

Having children profoundly affects any woman's lifestyle and attitudes, so the "mom factor" can prompt big changes in a female consumer's shopping habits. Interestingly, it is her parenting style more than the ages of her children or traditional demographics that segment one mom from another.

Even before you add in that immeasurable emotional aspect of parenting (as in the huge new importance that child-proofed packaging takes on), moms represent a complex segment of women to reach with your marketing messages: They rarely sit in front of the television; the preferences of their kids may win out over their own; and they may be too distracted to care whether the shampoo they pick up is their usual brand.

But, there are a few ways to group moms that should help you develop your approach to them, whether you are selling food, cars , vacations , insurance, retirement plans, children's clothing or toys did we leave anything out?

MOMS' MONEY

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the agency that tracks family expenditures), an average-income family will spend $165,630 on a child by the time the child reaches eighteen. [11]

Parents with incomes of $38,000 to $64,000 spend $18,510 on miscellaneous items for the average child from birth through the age of eighteen. This includes spending on entertainment, reading material, VCRs, summer camps and lessons. [12]

Females outnumber males in the United States by about 5 million (nearly 4 percent more) and a significant percent have at least one child. [13]

Even if money were not a consideration, 48 percent of moms would choose to work part-time or full-time . Thirty-one percent would choose to work at home caring for their family, and 20 percent would select volunteer work. [14]

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moms and advertising [15]

WHAT MOMS WANT IN ADVERTISING

Visible benefits to using the product

Pictures of cute kids

Solutions to everyday challenges

Ways to enrich their children

Safety information

Useful ideas or advice

Value

MOM'S FAVORITE ADS

Dodge Caravan: "What Idiot came up with ˜stay-at-home moms'"

K-Mart: "Stuff of Life"

AT&T: "Working mom staying connected at the beach "

Hallmark: Varied ad campaigns

Disney: "Creating memories"

Sizzle and Stir: Dr. Ruth and Mr. T

Oxygen: " Miss America"

State Farm: Working mothers

MasterCard: "Priceless"

SunnyDelight: SunnyD

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MOMS' BUYING FILTERS

How women define their own roles is the best way to determine both their category within the moms segment and what may influence their perspective of your brand. As we already know from our look at the various generational profiles, women really don't use their ages to define themselves. So, instead, we have to zero in on the more lifestyle-oriented factors to get to know the viewpoint of moms, in general.

Below are two mothering styles that should generally include most moms:

Tradition reigns. These mothers operate under fairly traditional gender roles. They stay at home with the kids while the father works. Some of these moms may be living a transitional version of this lifestyle, balancing the traditions of their own childhood with the more modern need for a woman to be out of the house making a living.

Innovation rules. Then, there are the less tradition-bound moms. Some of these innovative women may not have planned their pregnancies, remained unmarried or headed toward divorce. They may not have chosen it, but many are raising their children without the father's involvement. The ultramodern mother may also be innovative, rearing her kids in active partnership with the father, while working outside the home and pursuing other self-fulfilling activities.

As more women approach motherhood from a less traditional perspective, they will represent one of the biggest opportunities for marketers. By validating the women who are already going about motherhood in unconventional ways, and equipping struggling moms with the means to enhance their self-image outside of their day-to-day roles, marketers will reflect these women's concerns and succeed in building a solid long-term relationship with them.

REFLECTING MOMS IN YOUR BRAND

Given the gamut of mothering styles and purchasing habits, the following general tips will help you see your brand the way moms do. A few resonant ways to serve moms include:

Market to multitaskers. With time pressures an issue for all women, for moms especially, marketing approaches should be developed and delivered in ways that lend themselves to being received while women are engaged in other tasks. When was the last time you saw a mom quietly reading a magazine or focusing on a television show? Brands have to come up with ways to reach moms while they are doing the laundry, giving the kids a bath, feeding the dog or running errands.

For example, a financial services company found that, although many women with children wanted to increase their financial intelligence, seminars were too much of a hassle (arranging for baby sitters, for one). However, a series of focus groups revealed that e-mail courses followed by a free coaching session by phone were a good fit with moms' schedules.

Provide information over emotion. Savvy, information-gathering women, moms or not, will likely choose to utilize the Internet as a resource over television ads, as it will allow them the time to read or refer to later in their buying research. With their children's health and best interests top of mind, women simply can't afford to make the emotion-based purchasing decisions that are more the point of quick-hit radio or television spots.

Packaged-goods and pharmaceutical Web sites, for example, have become extremely important to mothers in their "Dr. Mom" roles. These sites tune into their practical concerns and provide nutritional and weight information; self-diagnosing tools for illnesses and injuries; and the ability to find correct dosages and possible side effects of medications.

Support their practical priorities. What matters to moms day-to-day is how to be most effective in their roles. Gourmet recipes or details on how to scrub the bathroom floor to perfection are not important; of more concern are practical solutions for helping her child learn to love reading or to build his or her confidence.

Address their sense of balance and perspective. Advertisers have taken the picture of the frantic, task-crazed mothers to an extreme, and, although it may be true to a degree, it is rarely inspiring . In reality, most moms lead a more organic and integrated life and are proud of how much they are able to get done in a day. A better marketing approach might be to present, with humor and admiration, the clever ways moms devise to make their lives work while averting potential disasters.

Marketing messages that speak to that sense of balance, perspective and innovation will resonate and be a refreshing change from the usual detergent and toy ads.

Educate them online. Moms, who will continue to be significant purchasers and purchase influencers in the future, are knowledgehungry and continually educating themselves. After all, they've got to keep up with all the changes as their kids grow. For new moms especially, the wealth of online information and shopping options are proving to be an extremely convenient resource.

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literature-loving moms unite [16]

Before launching Brain, Child magazine, Stephanie Wilkinson and Jennifer Niesslein did due diligence on their competition and their likely readership. From what they'd learned through their research, they chose to focus on a broad-based readership : moms who were likely in the age range of 25 to 50, and were, like themselves, underserved by the other available parenting and mothering magazines. From letters to the editor and other feedback, in addition to very basic readership surveys, they soon were able to more narrowly define their core audience:

Moms in the mid-30s to mid-40s age range

Moms with much more affluent household incomes than expected

Seventy-four percent have household incomes over $65,000

One third of readership is at-home moms

Eighteen percent work part-time from home, and only 5 percent work full-time

Their surveys didn't cover the education level question, but they did find out what other publications were read by those polled, which included: The New Yorker, Parents, Mothering, Salon.com, Martha Stewart: Living and Utne Reader.

NO CUPCAKE RECIPES HERE

In addition to finding out that their readers were simply passionate about reading, Stephanie and Jennifer also realized that Brain, Child was hitting a nerve for first-time mothers even more than for more experienced moms with several children. Any first-time parent is looking for information wherever she can find it, but Brain, Child readers were also enjoying reading about, and connecting with, experiences they'd shared in the voices of other mothers (sometimes quite famous authors, and other times not so famous writers). Reading about other women who were struggling emotionally with the weaning of their child, or who had found their new-baby's existence created a different and confusing dynamic with their husbands, was the connection they sought.

In addition, readers seem to connect with the humor and authenticity within the pages of each issue of Brain, Child. The humor is in reading about other moms whose only moment of solitude is escaping for two minutes to the bathroom, for example. And, while authenticity is part of their overall mission, it seems extra evident in the regular Brain, Child debate section. In it, actual mothers (and not famousnamed doctors ) write on topics like disciplining other people's kids or whether raising a pet is really an educational experience or another chore for mom.

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MOMS-FOCUSED INDUSTRY STUDY: INFANT DEVELOPMENT

Finding companies that support them in their mom role can be especially important for women who are experiencing motherhood for the first time. Not only do they have to keep track of diapers, feedings and washing loads while just being there for their child, they'll also feel guilty if they don't do everything they can to enrich and nurture their infant's learning.

In recent years, magazines like Brain, Child (see the sidebar) and many other clothing and baby equipment retailers have heeded this call and made their content, Web sites and retail stores much more responsive and relevant to the fears and concerns of first-time moms. A great industry example is The Baby Einstein Company, created by a mom to market products designed specifically for infants and toddlers.

An award-winning creator of the infant developmental media, including videos , DVDs, discovery cards, books and audio CDs, Baby Einstein focuses on exposing babies to the amazing world around them. The company supports new moms by providing fun and stimulating ways for parents and caregivers to interact and enrich their children's lives ”through the use of real world objects, music, art, language, science, poetry and nature.

What Baby Einstein provides speaks to the concerns and guilt of moms for a variety of reasons, which include:

Positive development for the child = guilt-free minutes off for mom. With a tagline like "Babies love us. Parents trust us," moms are sure to consider Baby Einstein products. The videos seem amateurish to adult eyes, but it takes about a minute of viewing beside an infant or a toddler to see that the simple but creative presentation entrances children. And testimonials on their site (Babyeinstein.com) tell stories about moms' appreciation of Baby Einstein videos in their children's lives. With words like "transfixed" and "mesmerized" used to describe the way infants and toddlers watch videos that teach them the alphabet and about animals and classical composers, how could you go wrong?

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I love to hide around the corner and watch her react to the changing scenes on the television screen ”I can always tell when her favorite part is next ”she starts bouncing like mad!! Also, thanks to you, I get to take a shower every day, knowing that she is in good company.

”Mother's testimonial on Babyeinstein.com

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Growing with moms' needs makes it easy for her. Tapping into the needs of new moms meant that this new infant development industry could only grow to serve moms further with toddler and child development products. Now owned by the Walt Disney Company, Baby Einstein has extended its line into dozens of books, flash cards and new videos. Then came the "juvenile products" line, with Baby Einstein rattles, teethers, bouncers, and other baby items as well as infant and preschool and plush toys. By growing along with their customers, Baby Einstein has clearly been inspired to push further brand development.

As kids grow to influence purchases, the brand is ready. As toddlers become preschoolers they are likely to hold some sway over their mother's purchases, and Baby Einstein is ready for that transition. The company has created some distance from the "baby" moniker with a new Little Einstein subbrand TV series that launches worldwide in 2004. The usual music, art, language, science, poetry and nature themes will be explored, but in a way that is more relevant to this slightly more independent group ”so puppets will be missing from the mix.

HOUSEHOLD MANAGER AND TIME-CHALLENGED SHOPPER

A woman's view of your brand is based on the form and shape of her perspective on life, however that may have developed. Then, life doles out the filters (the generational characteristics, the life stages, the life transitions and roles) that will combine or interchange as she considers your products or services.

The roles of single woman, businesswoman and mom have been covered here, but we wanted to briefly touch on two other roles that affect how most women see your brand: as household manager and time-challenged shopper.

HOUSEHOLD MANAGER

When serving as household manager, a woman is all the more likely to take on the businesswoman traits she uses at work. In her home-management role, she will be researching major appliance purchases, overseeing subcontractors for a remodel, managing the family investments and scheduling the kids' play dates and sports activities, among other things like grocery shopping.

While tracking all of these "businessy" aspects of personal life, the Internet can be very helpful for a woman. Access to the Web, just as in her business role, will provide resources for making educated consumer decisions and saving major amounts of time. Furthermore, the Internet is a very safe realm in which to pose the "dumb" questions and study up on technical information for the woman who is continually educating herself to deliver the best choices for her family.

TIME-CHALLENGED SHOPPER

Despite their heavy load of responsibilities with kids, work and parents, women still handle 70 percent of all household duties . The challenge is finding time to get it all done, especially when many of the companies they need to contact operate on banker's hours. Brands can support women's time-challenged shopping by developing ways to come to them, such as: providing in-office massage, putting bank branches in grocery stores or offering on-site (her site) mobile car washes. If you help her to shop and get things done during her lunch hour and on breaks (for example, by staffing up your retail store from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays), you'll be part of a powerful trend that helps her cross things off her to-do list without compromising work hours.

Finally, the Internet has become a dream for time-challenged women who find they can indulge themselves in the "fun" of shopping or entertainment only at extreme off-hours late at night or very early in the morning. Their well-earned self-indulgent activities might include reading up on personal hobbies, visiting entertainment and celebrity Web sites or exploring interactive components of the Web. During these off-hours of shopping online, women may well view products and services through a more personal filter, and less through a household, task-focused one.

UNDERSTAND LIFE ROLES TO REACH WOMEN MORE EFFECTIVELY

The more you understand life roles, the more your brand will reflect an awareness of how those circumstances affect a woman's days and her buying behavior. A woman could never be defined solely as a single woman, businesswoman or mom, but there is great insight to be gained by combining the cross-generational role factors with the common generational truths.

By examining the combination of life filters ”generational, cross-generational life stages and roles, cultural influences ”you develop an understanding of the incredibly unique women your brand serves. Studying all of these layers can only better prepare you to provide for the varied needs of the women's market for your products and services.

[1] "The State of Our Unions 2000: the social health of marriage in America" (Rutgers Marriage Project Study, Rutgers University, 2000), http://marriage.rutgers.edu/Publications/SOOU/NMPAR2000.pdf.

[2] "The Solo Female Consumer Market," Packaged Facts (New York: Marketresearch.com, 2001), http://www.marketresearch.com.

[3] Ibid.

[4] "Targeting the Single Female Consumer," Reuters Business Insight (London), August 1, 2000, http://www.reutersbusinessinsight.com/default.asp.

[5] Ibid.

[6] "Completing the Picture" (Washington, D.C.: Center for Women's Business Research, 2003), http://www.nfwbo.org/completingthepicture.htm.

[7] Study in 1999 by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO), http://www.nfwbo.org/Research/12-1-1999/12-1-1999.htm.

[8] Ibid.

[9] "Reshaping the way hotels are designed and operated," female business travel survey (Atlanta: John Portman & Associates, December 2001).

[10] Ibid.

[11] U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Expenditures on Children by Families" (Washington, D.C.: GPO, June 2001).

[12] Ibid.

[13] Bureau of the Census, "Population Projections of the United States by Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin: 1995 to 2050" (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1996).

[14] Study by Whirlpool, Inc., 1995.

[15] Maria Bailey, CEO, BSM Media, study entitled "What's Winning the Hearts of Mothers?" http://www.bsmmedia.com/news/10ads.html.

[16] Excerpt from Andrea Learned, " Brain, Child magazine: Where To Find A Narrow But Mighty Segment of Moms," Reaching Women Online newsletter, Vol. II, Issue IV, September 27, 2002, http://www.reachwomen.com/enewsletters/16.rwo.htm.