Why Are We Only Marketing to Women as Moms?

by Debra Branson, Account Manager - 01/09/17


Marketers know it’s important to target audiences with messages that reflect who they are and what interests them. So why, when marketing to women, do so many continue to talk to women as if they’re all moms?

A recent New York Times article entitled “Childless Women to Marketers: We Buy Things Too” put a spotlight on this question and pointed out that women who aren’t moms often feel left out—so much so that groups have sprung up to give women who are childless either by choice or by chance a voice.

As a mother, I can understand the question. I didn’t have my son until a little later in life, and what appealed to me in advertising definitely shifted after his birth. The same kind of ads that grabbed my attention as a mom didn’t speak to me a few years earlier, as a woman without children. Why should they have? My focus at that time wasn’t on diapers, children’s cereals, or toys.

Get to Know the “Not Moms”

Women without children aren’t an insignificant audience. Data from the 2014 census indicates that  47.6 percent of all women between the ages of 15 and 44 do not have children.

That percentage continues to rise as more women delay marriage and having children. The average age at which women have their first child was 26.3 in 2014 (up nearly two years from 24.9 in 2000).

Furthering the Marketing Relationship With All Women

Around the globe, women—regardless of whether they have children—drive the economy, according to the Harvard Business Review. They might be daughters, friends, mothers, sisters, or wives, but they are definitely the household decision-makers for purchases related to a variety of industries, including health care.

The National Partnership for Women & Families reports that women play leading roles in selecting their family’s health plans and scheduling loved ones’ health screenings and other appointments. In fact, a 2015 survey of women in five countries conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 59 percent of women make others’ healthcare decisions. When only working moms are considered, this number jumps to a staggering 94 percent.

Failing to reach women with healthcare messages that resonate can alienate this powerful group and even have consequences on their overall health. Despite the important role women play in the healthcare landscape, many don’t trust their healthcare providers. Many women also feel like they don’t have enough time or access to reliable information to make the fitness, healthy eating, or other lifestyle changes necessary for good health. In addition, women are more likely than men to experience depression, osteoporosis, and other health issues, and illnesses like heart disease may affect women differently than men

Thankfully, it’s becoming easier to find out what familial roles women in an organization’s target audience play and tailor messages to women at specific ages and life stages. As social media, data analysis, predictive modeling, and so many other tools have progressed, marketers now have the ability to have conversations with interested individual consumers, to look at data to see which households have children, and to use predictive modeling to determine who might match certain demographics. This gives us the ability to effectively target who we want to reach with messaging that best speaks to that audience—in other words, to be inclusive.

Clearly defining your audience is critical for creating content that reaches the right people without wasting time and money. This helps you understand why audiences search for certain products and services, and allows you to deliver content that speaks to your audiences’ desires and needs. Isn’t that what we, as marketers, want to do?

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Topics: Audience Segmentation & Targeting

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