Marketing to Moms: Mama Economics

August 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

The recession will be over when Moms say it is. With 80% of household spending linked to Mom’s purse, Moms will determine how quickly the economy rebounds.

As a disclaimer, I am not an economist – just a pragmatist and a Mom who has weathered a few downturns.

But in defense of economists, I was really encouraged by comments recently given by Carlos Herrera, an economist and principal financial analyst for Coca-Cola, that little planet-sized soft drink company.  His prognostication for getting out of the recession suggests we have to be politically happy, experience a return of wealth, get jobs back and maybe even experience a little inflation.

Herrera is a charming man who used pictures of his daughter pre- and post- a broken arm, to explain the state of the economy.  He gave the following definition of a recession:

“People expect that tomorrow will be worse than today.”

In other words, if we think things are getting better, they will get better.  So we get to decide when the recession is over, or rather, Moms get to decide.

But what do Moms currently think? According to a survey by Performics, part of Publicis Group’s VivaKi Nerve Center, women are more pessimistic about the economy than men are. The 2009 Online Buyer Economic Trend Study reported that 53% of women said their situation is worse than a year ago. By contrast, only 38% of men said they are worse off than a year ago. In April, when Performics posed the same questions, 53% of both men and women said they were worse off.

In actuality, women have fared better than men in this downturn, with unemployment among women more than two percentage points lower than men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But as the chief purchasing officer in many households, Moms are faced with lower incomes and probably no raises or bonuses.  Faced with these realities and a latent fear of what the future holds, women are slow to return to former spending habits.  Some 73% of the women surveyed said the recession has fundamentally changed the way they think about saving and spending money vs. 57% of men.

So Moms must feel more confident and hopeful about the future to contribute to economic recovery.   And as marketers, we must adjust our messaging to reflect Mom’s value-oriented, savvy purchasing style.

So for me and my family, I think we will follow Carlos Herrera’s advice:

Practice optimism. Embrace responsibility. Help my fellow man. Be happy.

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