(Dear Readers, I am sorry but I must interrupt my usual letters to you so that I can address something to the fine people in the Advertising and Marketing world.)
Dear Madison Avenue,
Please don't wish me a Happy Mother's Day.
It's not that I don't appreciate the wishes. And I don't mean to be the "Ebenezer Scrooge" of Mother's Day. It's a perfectly lovely holiday.
But I am not a mother.
And it's not that I don't want to be. I personally do. But for now, I am not a mother.
So when I walk into your store, or open your e-newsletter, or receive your direct mail, please don't wish me a Happy Mother's Day.
Don't get me wrong. I love mothers. I admire the work and energy it takes to be a mother. In fact, some of my best friends are mothers. But some are not. In fact, some of your girlfriends are probably not mothers either. Stop. Look around. Chances are about 50% of the women you know are not mothers. Especially since you live in a big city like New York.
Madison, or Ms Avenue if you prefer, just look at the US census report on fertility. In 2004 (the latest report) 45% of women up to the age of 44 were counted as "childless." (The number of women over the age of 44 who are non-moms is not recorded.) That's up from 44% in 2003. And 43% in 2001. So the numbers are growing. Year after year. After year.
For every Mom out there, there is a Non-Mom. Some by choice. Some yet to be. Some who just can't. None of these women want your Happy Mother's Day wishes. In fact, you are probably hurting some feelings along the way.
But Madison, you're a smart marketer. You can step away from the decades-old idea that moms are the most powerful spenders in the US. Perhaps at education and kids' necessities like diapers and milk they are. Sure. But women in general are the most lucrative consumers for marketers. And we've come a long way, baby. 85% of women make or influence the purchasing decisions in their household. The household, by the way, may be a family of four, or a single abode for one. For the first time, more women than men are buying cars, consumer electronics, homes and doing home renovations. And you might be surprised to hear that 50% of single women own their own homes.
Since the 1960's, when women were finally opening bank accounts in their own names, you have been focusing your marketing strategies on Mom since that is how you have traditionally identified "Woman." But it's 2008 and times have changed. Today, non-moms actually have greater purchasing power because they are not supporting children, because a greater portion of non-moms than moms are still in the workforce, and because they have more time for leisure and travel.
Which doesn't mean that non-moms don't love children. Non-moms have nieces and nephews, by relation or by choice, and other children in their lives that they love and embrace (and spoil!).
Madison, since you are a woman who works in advertising and marketing, you may have heard that I call this segment of women: PANKs (Professional Aunts, No Kids.) PANK is the New PINK. We are the fastest growing segment of affluent women in America - the women you should be focusing some really smart attention on.
So don't turn us off. Don't keep assuming all women are moms. Do better targeting and segmenting. Find the women who spend their discretionary income and time on the kids in their lives - and on themselves. We're here. We're listening. And we're ready to buy.
In the meantime, go ahead with your Mother's Day plans. I too wish all moms a beautiful day full of all the love and joy that motherhood brings.
But please, don't wish the rest of us a Happy Mother's Day.
Because the thing is, we're not moms.
Auntie Melanie Notkin