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When It Comes to Marketing, Digital Mom Shoppers Have Boundaries

Moms’ digital savvy comes with caveats

Mobile devices and social networks are important fixtures of the shopping process for today’s mom. But marketers must be careful not to intrude unduly on their time, according to a new eMarketer report, “Mom Shoppers: Using Digital to Keep Their Heads Above Water.” Moms want to be the ones who initiate commerce-related activities in today’s digital environments.

It’s no mystery why marketers aim at moms: There are lots of them, and they spend lots of money. eMarketer estimates the population of US moms with kids under age 18 in the household was 35.7 million last year. BSM Media, which specializes in marketing to moms, pegged US mom buying power at an annual $2.25 trillion as of June 2013.

Many moms acknowledge the internet’s importance as a shopping aid. In Experian Marketing Services polling, conducted during 2012 and Q1 2013, more than two-thirds of working and stay-at-home moms agreed that the internet has changed the way they get information about products and services; more than four in 10 said they used the web to seek lower prices.

The catch is that moms are too busy to sift through the tons of information available online. “It really comes down to time,” said Laura Tomasetti, CEO of 360 Public Relations, whose parenting practice studies mom behavior. “So moms are going to have their go-to sites that they trust.”

Moms visit websites to compare prices and seek deals before they go to a store. February 2013 polling from Arbitron and Edison Research found one-quarter of US moms saying they used daily deal sites, vs. 14% of adults in general.

As for advertising, many moms are put off by the way ads treat motherhood. The lives of moms are far more varied now than in past generations. Nowadays, a large and growing number of moms are unmarried, and a large majority are in the labor force. There’s a disconnect between the advertising depicting moms’ daily life—what Katherine Wintsch, founder of The Mom Complex, terms the “idealization and glamorization of motherhood”—and the way moms experience it.

For real moms, pressed for time, smartphones help them streamline their shopping. Under these circumstances, marketers might fare best with simple messaging that puts little demand on moms’ phone time. A March 2013 Alliance Data survey of mom smart mobile device users found 52% of respondents said they “like to receive SMS/text messages from certain retailers”; 44% said they “like to receive emails from certain stores, and I usually check that email on my mobile device.”

Social networking also plays a role in moms’ shopping. BabyCenter’s polling in March 2013 among US mom social network users found 45% saying they used Facebook to research products and 46% used Pinterest for that purpose. And moms are influenced when they see that a friend “liked” something: Forty-four percent of BabyCenter’s respondents said they were influenced to make a purchase because a friend “liked” or posted about the brand on a social network.


The full report, “Mom Shoppers: Using Digital to Keep Their Heads Above Water,” also answers these key questions:

  • What are the significant demographic subsets of today’s mom population in the US?
  • What are the factors guiding US moms’ shopping decisions?
  • How do moms feel about the ways in which advertising depicts them?
  • What are their attitudes about marketers’ usage of mobile and social channels to reach them?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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