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Liz HawksSenior Vice President and PartnerFleishmanHillard
Babies don’t care what brands their clothes are, yet a number of big-name designers offer full-fledged clothing lines for babies and children. That’s because when it comes to splurging, mothers would often rather spend on their kids than on themselves. Liz Hawks, senior vice president and partner at communication and marketing company FleishmanHillard, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how motherhood shapes women as consumers.
eMarketer: Women are becoming mothers later than they have in previous generations. How does that impact them as shoppers?
Liz Hawks: There still hasn’t been a huge shift. Only one in five births today are to a mom that’s at least 35 years old, so I would be careful about making the correlation between moms’ shopping habits or purchasing behaviors and their age. These decisions are so much more about other influences that shape the motherhood stage.
eMarketer: Given all the time pressures that mothers face, are they more hesitant to try new brands?
Hawks: New moms are predisposed to the heritage brands that they grew up with, but they compare those brands with all of the new options on the market as well. It’s not necessarily that they’re actively researching what to buy, but brands come up in conversations with peer moms, on blog posts and on the social media platforms that they follow. If we asked moms, “Do you have time to research the many options at your fingertips before you make a decision?” they’d probably say no, but they’re doing it anyway in their regular behaviors.
eMarketer: What are mothers spending money on during “me” time?
Hawks: Once a woman becomes a mom, she doesn’t want to see the death of the woman that she was before. She wants to keep that lifestyle going and bring her child into that lifestyle. Retail brands such as Kate Spade and Gap have baby clothing, for example, and Starbucks offers milk and snacks for kids so mom can [socialize] with her girlfriends [at the store]. Brands are innovating to show that they understand moms’ desire—when they’re able to do some discretionary spending, the majority of them splurge on their children.
eMarketer: Do single mothers shop differently than married mothers? How much does their spouse or partner influence their shopping habits?
Hawks: We just did a study here at FleishmanHillard looking specifically at millennial parents. We found that for dads, their spouse or partner influenced 80% of their decision-making and for moms, their spouse or partner influence level was at 50%, with other people besides the significant other having more influence. This underscores that moms are really in charge.
eMarketer: Women are now spending more time in the workforce before becoming mothers. Does this make them eager to get back to work after having a child?
Hawks: It does. Women are now earning more advanced degrees, and the question of whether or not to go back to work after having kids is not so much of a question as it has been in previous generations of moms.
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