Archive for October, 2013

Technology and the Millennial Mom

You are likely to find her sipping coconut water in a cafe while shopping on her wireless device. She’s sporting Tom’s shoes and garments tied to some kind of philanthropic cause. Her toddler sits in a stroller close to her, gliding chubby fingers comfortably over an iPod. She’s the Millennial Mom, and she’s all the buzz in marketing to moms. To engage with this influential group of moms, it’s important to understand what shapes her identity and behaviors.

Engaging with Millennial Moms, gaining their loyalty and winning their business means using dramatically different tactics compared to prior generations of moms. The differences are critical, and are sharply influenced by factors like how she was parented, school-aged influences, her parent’s affluence, and above all, technology. I’ve covered the demographics, parenting and school influences in a prior post; now, let’s dig deeper in to technology.

How Technology Shapes Millennial Behaviors

Technology impacts almost everything a millennial mom does and buys for herself and her family. Whether she is browsing through an online retail site, checking her Facebook page or posting a photo and location on Instagram, her phone or device (plus the device to entertain baby) is one of the most valuable tools she owns. If moms from older generations have mixed feelings about their cell phones and devices (is it a necessary tool or necessary evil?), Millennial Moms won’t leave home without them. They are rarely disconnected and expect immediate, 24/7 gratification. Our survey shows how much Millennials love their mobile technology and social media:

  • Almost all Millennials — 90% — admit to texting photos of a possible purchase to another person for approval
  • 58% say they use their phones to look up store hours and locations.
  • About 55% check their social media accounts at least twice each day totaling an estimated 17 hours each week
  • 80% say they watch at least one video each week

Millennials embrace new social media quickly, as seen by the explosive growth of Pinterest and Instagram. Almost 75% of moms use Pinterest for recipes, inspiration and decorating ideas. Keeping up with Millennials as early adopters of new technology and social media is the challenge of marketers, businesses and brands. Products and brands with a presence in social media are in the Millennial Mom’s virtual playground. Keeping her loyal and spreading the word to her friends and family involves engaging with her in a way that can be easily shared with those same friends and family. Recall that her background and experiences pre-parenthood mean that she is also looking for ways to customize products and relationships, paying attention to those that make her (and now her family) feel special.

Technology affects how these moms socialize, communicate and, more importantly, purchase items for themselves and their families. To reach the influential Millennial Mom means engaging with relevant dialogue that she can access with any electronic device, so your product or brand will capture her attention and purchase power while she is sitting in the cafe.

Getting to Know the Millennial Mom

As a consumer group, Millennials control an estimated $172 billion a year and influence $3,000 in family spending annually. Most Millennials enjoyed a prosperous childhood and are the most diverse population of women in the history of the U.S. (both socioeconomically and ethnically). Minorities make up 34% of this generation, up from 24% in the Baby Boomer category. For the baby market, the Millennials bring good news since it is predicted that these moms and moms-to-be will have more children than previous generations.

Millennials and Their Parents
Like generations before them, Millennial moms’ consumer behaviors are greatly influenced by their own mothers and the parenting style they experienced growing up. However, this parenting style was a distinct departure from previous generations.To fully understand this concept, take a step back in time to their childhood. The Millennial mother today was raised by the Boomer mom of yesterday.  Boomers, as the first generation claiming a near majority of working mothers, passed along the benefits of cracking the glass ceiling to their children in the form of Baby Gap clothing, Coach handbags and manicure appointments before grade school. They were pampered and adored in part to relieve the guilt many working mothers felt leaving their babies at home. Birthday parties for this generation escalated to customized invitations on vellum and personalized M&Ms to bounce houses and professional entertainment. They were the apples of their parents’ eyes.As a child, a Millennial was showered with trophies and awards for participating rather than winning. It was a time when parenting experts preached building confidence over anything else. As an adult, the Millennial mom still loves to be the center of attention. She seeks the feeling of receiving a trophy for participation; however, as a mom that trophy comes in the form of special discounts, coupons, and free products. She wants to be recognized by friends on Facebook, by brands in their marketing and by retailers at the register or online. Remember her childhood birthday parties? She certainly does, and she still loves to celebrate these occasions to the extent that if the special occasion doesn’t exist, she creates it. Millennial moms have launched whole new industries around Babymoons and gender reveal parties. These events not only put her at the center of attention but also give her the excuse for a celebration.Millennials Give Back

As high school students, Millennial Moms were required to do service hours. Giving back was an acceptable part of life, and they developed a love for helping others. Technology allowed them to see the impact of their actions globally and they liked it. As consumers now, Millennial Moms look for ways to continue these acts of kindness by partnering with brands that share their values. For some, it may be providing shoes via a Tom’s purchase while using a credit card that gives back to their charity of choice.  Others will like or follow brands that align with their philosophies or views on a variety of issues.

Millennials Expect Choices

One final impact of their upbringing is their desire to discover new flavors, styles and designs. Two factors played a role in honing this characteristic; the birth of the new big box retailer and the disposable income of their parents. While it may be difficult to remember a time when Target and Wal-Mart didn’t exist, simply close your eyes and think back to the late 1980s when the Millennials were able to spend their allowance.

Target was coming on to the retail scene and helped Americans rediscover the fun of retail that had been lost with the death of “5 and 10” stores. Imagine being a 10-year-old child with your weekly allowance (which most likely was higher than any other generation’s), walking into a well-lit and well-stocked Target store with its shiny floor. Or the excitement of finding out how far her dollars would go at a Wal-Mart store. Compounded with the variety of products her parent’s two incomes provided for her, she became open to discovering new items, trying new flavors and exploring beyond her comfort zone.  As she shops for her own family today, she seeks the same excitement of discovery and choice.