Women Are the Currency of Success

kelley blogI just returned from the 12th annual M2W (Marketing to Women) Conference in New York. An always-inspirational event, this year’s presentations, speakers and content were particularly motivating as a more global pool of voices shared their passionate perspectives on topics ranging from female entrepreneurship to the portrayal of women on advertisements.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d call out three key takeaways from M2W that are particularly relevant to moms, and the marketers who are trying to connect with them (click to tweet).

1. First-Time Mothers & Beyond
We all know that the millennial generation is 83 million strong, compared to 65 million Gen-Xers and 77 million Boomers. They are a force to be reckoned with and over 90 percent of first-time moms are now millennials. So, if you are selling car seats, strollers, infant formula, insurance, toys and a host of other products that are purchased when the first child arrives, millennial moms are your sweet spot. Relative to the amount of media coverage that the topic of millennials receives, almost every presentation at M2W had a focus on millennial women, their likes (mobile, clear brand values), dislikes (marketers giving them “permission” to do something), communications preferences (stories) and who they like to buy from (entrepreneurial vs. big businesses).

A few brave presenters, however, reminded the audience that both Gen-X and Boomers, while a bit smaller in numbers, actually represent more spending power. In the case of Boomers, five times the amount of spending power than millennials. The focus on both Gen-X and Boomer women and moms was underrepresented at the conference, much like in media coverage and popular culture. These women and moms represent the lion’s share of consumer spending, but seem to be ignored  by many marketers. Financial services, auto, homes, appliances and luxury goods all require larger sums of money, which these generations have relative to millennials, yet many focus on millennials, who are not quite yet in the position to buy those things. Our own 50+ and Breadwinner PheMOMenon studies provide insight and guidance into these key audiences.

2. All the Single Ladies
At the conference, I presented on the topic of “Life Well Lived: She Says, He Says,” which is a look at gender and generational differences on the topic of a well-lived life and personal success–and how marketers can leverage those driving forces. I took a fresh look at our new Man Code and Breadwinner PheMOMenon studies through this fresh lens and found some surprising findings. While being in a committed relationship is still a strong component of a live well lived across genders and generations, marriage is on the decline among millennials (50 percent of children are being born to single moms) and divorce on the rise among Gen-X and Boomers. And, women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners.

As I combed through our data and looked at external studies, I spotted an emerging trend, and a marketing gap, around single women. Given the societal and economic dynamics referenced above, I think single women and moms are poised to become the single biggest force in consumer brand marketing. Most current marketing efforts are not focusing or featuring single women or moms as THE target, but smart marketers need to be thinking of single women as the customer of the near future.

3. Take a Stand
The most compelling presentation at the conference was given by Madonna Badger, Chief Creative Officer at Badger & Winters. She went through a life-changing experience and (like many moms do) instead of letting it destroy her, she used it to fuel her passion to  do great, passion-driven, work for her agency. With the launch of #WomenNotObjects, Madonna creative a purpose-driven agency and a rallying cry heard around the world for marketers to stand up to raise the standards of our work and stop the objectification of women in advertising.

No doubt many of you saw this campaign when it launched–it received massive media attention and went viral. As Mother’s Day approaches, it is worth reminding our marketing community that women are not objects and we all have a responsibility–for our daughters, our sisters, our friends and our mothers–to take a stand.

As conference organizer, Nan McCann, said in her opening address, “Women are the currency of success.” On Mother’s Day 2016, I wish all moms a very happy day and a year full of whatever definition of success is most important to them.

About Kelley Skoloda

Kelley is a Partner and Director of Ketchum's Global Brand Marketing Practice. She is the author of of the business book, Too Busy to Shop: Marketing to Multi-Minding Women (Praeger/Mar 2009) and the architect of the widely-publicized Women 25to54 offering.