Millennial Moms Arrive

Discussion
Jul 03, 2008

By Tom Ryan

So long soccer mom! She’s being replaced by the 20-to-30 year-old Gen Y generation female just starting to have babies. Long described in numerous and often contradictory ways (idealistic, realistic, independent, communal, cyber-savvy, etc.), her traits are taking on fresh nuances as the echo-boom generation reaches motherhood.

For one, the Gen Y or Millennial Mom is showing a much more relaxed attitude about her kids.

“Child raising is no longer a blood sport,” Nancy Hallberg, chief strategy officer at The Parenting Group, publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines, told Brandweek. “It’s more about enjoying the moment than over-programming children with piano classes and Gymboree.”

Cognitive anthropologist Bob Deutsch adds that Gen Y moms “give themselves more leeway. They’re not martyrs. They seem at ease and natural, like they don’t have to strive for perfection. Their identity is based on choices, not societal roles, and they are freed up because of that.”

Another difference is that while Soccer Mom was all about “establishing balance,” the Gen Y mom is a mult-tasker.

“She’s a little more adept at integrating multiple aspects of her life and switching gears with a little more facility than Gen X moms have,” said Ms. Halberg.

Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media and author of Marketing to Moms, said Gen Y moms saw their mother’s frustrations striving to balance between work and family.

“For millennials, everything is about ‘real’ and ‘reality,'” said Ms. Baily. “Because they were raised on technology, they know they can have things when they want them, that it can help them customize a lifestyle on their own terms.”

Indeed, while perhaps more realistic and laid back, Millennial Moms are also often seen as more empowered in many ways than their parents. This is not only because they were raised to feel “somewhat golden,” but because of how the web is enmeshed in their lives. Many are demanding a voice in not only how they are being marketed to, but also in product development. Millennials are also empowered by each other through social-networking tools that have created legions of blogging mothers.

“We’re seeing all these ‘mom tribes,'” said Ms. Hallberg. “Moms look for other moms to network with. Community is their mantra.”

According to Brandweek, many marketers have started responding with Gen Y mom-specific initiatives from brand-sponsored online meet-ups for new mothers, to mom-fueled word-of-mouth campaigns, to promotional partnerships with the growing ranks of young mom bloggers.

But Parenting’s Ms. Hallberg believes marketers are still in for a learning process in reaching this generation of mothers. The fact that a targeted mom is a millennial “has profound implications for how she’s going to buy your product,” she said.

“You have to think different when you communicate to her and share what benefits are important to her, because those are the issues she’s going to share with her tribes. And those tribes are as powerful a media channel as any conventional media are.”

Discussion Questions: How do you think Millennial/Gen Y Mom will differ from the Gen X and Baby Boomer mom? What won’t work that’s been successful in reaching moms in the past? What does this mean for brand marketers and retailers?

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14 Comments on "Millennial Moms Arrive"


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Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
13 years 10 months ago
The Millennial moms I know well, children of my boomer friends, look for convenience and “already pre-made” everything. They will buy a new outfit rather than repair a seam or sew on a button because they do not know how or don’t “have time.” They buy pre-mashed potatoes from the store refrigerated section at the same price for a 10oz serving that a five pound bag of whole potatoes would cost them. Most have no idea how to plant a garden with a row of lettuce or a few tomato plants. These are the same folks who so often complain that the middle class cannot make ends meet and how much harder the times are for them than for their parents and grandparents. Yet, their “starter homes” are often similar in size and quality to the second or third move-up home of earlier generations. My comments are meant as observation not criticism. This is overall a fine and kind generation. However their expectations and desires, reflected in their retail choices, are indeed significantly different from… Read more »
Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
13 years 10 months ago
“I find it difficult to remember exactly who or what Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials are. I wonder if any of the marketers also get confused.” Bernice, I’m not surprised. It does seem as if we’ve revised the age of the Millennials/Gen Y upward so we have another generational story to talk about. Not six months ago, I was in a seminar that featured a generational-marketing presentation, and the 30-year-old presenter proudly identified as Gen X. So which is it – are 30-year-old moms Gen X or Gen Y? Or does it depend on whether they use text-messaging and Twitter versus email and the regular voice feature on their cell phones? That said, I do think Gen Y moms – and dads – will take the traits that have endeared them so to employers (I’m being slightly ironic) and move them right into family life. So they’ll keep moving with their tribes, picking up new members as they move across the country and even across the globe. They’ll raise their kids as a group,… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
13 years 10 months ago

I’m marking this date on my calendar, because I’m enthusiastically agreeing with Bernice. I was taught that the very first step toward finding any kind of solution is an accurate, concise, understandable description of the problem. I didn’t get that from the Brandweek article.

Robert Craycraft
Guest
Robert Craycraft
13 years 10 months ago

Based on trends in our industry, expect more interest in local and regional retailers as well as products, new and innovative products and a very high level of service. Green policies and attitudes (both important) are going to be critical. I would bet on Whole Foods, Lord & Taylor, Kroger, and TruValue.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
13 years 10 months ago
Sorry, folks, but I can’t see the emperor’s clothes. This article read to me like a hodgepodge of jargon, full of confused (and confusing) generalisations. I really couldn’t see much sense in it. Mostly I had questions about the age range. Why are so many 20-30 year old women having babies? What has changed over the past decade or so? The youth of the women being discussed makes that a particular point of differentiation. It also indicates, to me, considerable inexperience and possible immaturity. As David Biernbaum said, they will not have the same level of education as so-called Millenial Moms (or Gen X? I’m very confused about who is in which group) who have that and some work/career experience as well. I’m also guessing that they may be married to younger men who may not have (yet) a particularly high income. All of these factors will shape where and how they live, their attitudes towards children, what they buy and how they respond to marketing messages. These young mothers (and probably their husbands) are… Read more »
Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
13 years 10 months ago

What won’t work with Millennial Moms is stock outs and conversion. Just price won’t work, either. They want quality, individualism, and eco friendly. They know what they want and they know how to get it via the net.

Brand marketers and retailers will have to do more community based marketing to attract and build loyalty from these moms.

David Biernbaum
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

A great many Millennial Moms are career women in an older age bracket, 35-plus. This Millennial Mom went to college; maybe earned her masters degree, and then she started her career, and perhaps didn’t get married, or at least did not start having children until an older age than what used to be the norm. What is significant about the Career Millennial Mom is that she is continuing to live as much as possible the career and lifestyle she has already been living for the past 10 years, while she takes on the extra responsibly associated with raising a family. She is a multi-tasked being, while raising children and her career all at the same time, and she still has a moderate social life and needs time and relaxation to survive and thrive. She too is the Millennial Mom. And she’s one of your most important customers.

Anne Howe
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

If she is your target consumer, I suggest allocating more dollars to research. It is super important to understand how and when and where messages about various categories of products are relevant to her, since she’s tech-native to the core. Many of her decisions may be made in surprising places.

I’d also be curious about her private brand use, since she’s had more exposure than any other segment to high quality private brands. Her “brand” frame of reference should not be assumed, unless maybe it’s Starbucks. The key to her wallet is going to be through homework!

Cathy Hotka
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

Millennial Moms are going to have a huge impact on the way retailers will act.

Millennials won’t have the same level of financial timidity that many Boomers, who were raised by Depression-era parents, have. They’ll buy what they want.

They’re well-educated and discerning, and they know how to get information on products. If physical stores don’t provide information about products, they risk losing business to online rivals.

They covet leisure time. They don’t want to be like their workaholic parents; Millennials believe that they can control their work environment to make it work for them.

This huge group of people are going to change retail with the same huge impact that their parents have had.

Heather Blankenhorn
Guest
Heather Blankenhorn
13 years 10 months ago
What David is describing above is the classic Gen X mom. I have been researching the roles of mothers by generation for years. Gen X moms, as a result of the latch key era and the first big wave of single parents households developed this “tribal” way of meeting daily demands. While Gen X is also known for their helicopter ways, due in part to living up to the ideal parenting they felt they did not receive, they have a very pragmatic approach to what they can and cannot handle and are willing to depend on other resources to do what is beyond their means. Millenial moms are likely to be traditionals with a twist–getting back to the basics (more stay at homes among affluent HHs), less scheduling more spontaneous time with friends and family infused with technology. Gen X seemed to try multi-tasking to a fault–the alpha mom syndrome which was the uber super mom pretending to have it all. I agree with the article in that Gen Y seems to be taking a… Read more »
Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

If you follow websites like Springwise.com which reports on trends from around the country, you know that today’s moms are linked, consumer-aware, and a powerful force in shaping tomorrow’s world. It will be amazing to see the generation of kids that will be raised under these circumstances. I think previous generations like ours were often raised by moms and dads who were a little more focused on themselves and growing their careers alone. Today’s parents want and are getting it all.

Mark Lilien
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

Millennial Mom may be a phrase coined by folks looking for clients. Are Millennial Moms different, in an actionable sense? It seems unlikely.

Janis Cram
Guest
Janis Cram
13 years 10 months ago

A mom is a mom is a mom. No matter if they’re in their 20s, 30s or 40s. ALL moms are overworked and looking for ways to balance it all and all moms are “soccer” moms. Make their life less stressful, easier to manage and throw in some fun and you’ll be successful in reaching them.

Corrie Wilder
Guest
Corrie Wilder
13 years 9 months ago

Practical and simple will be the name of the game here. New products should fill a need, solve a problem, help parents to meet a challenge, anything to make a difficult situation more manageable.

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