Mom Marketing

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The New York Times today covers the rising trend of “mom lit” – that genre of literature that used to be chick lit, now all grown up with babies and strollers.  Apparently, the term is causing quite a ruckus in the writing world.  Jennifer Weiner, the writer of “In Her Shoes,” “resents that women writing domestic dramas are categorized in ways male writers aren’t.” 

Mommy blogger Heather B. Armstrong of thinks that mom lit “reads like someone sat around in a marketing meeting and said, ‘What can we sell to this generation of mothers?”

My question is, so what?  So what if some of the mommy lit out there isn’t going to win a Pulitzer Prize? I like that when I write I can be light and fluffy – it makes all the craziness of being a mom a little more funny, a little easier to handle.  And seriously, moms out there, who really wants or can read a dense novel right after you have baby? I couldn’t. 

And why can’t “mommy lit” encompass the serious and the light?  I bet there is room in the genre and for the buyers (key here for a writer) for both.  So for those moms who write in this genre and want to fight for equal treatment, great.  But I think having that mommy voice at all, fluffy or not, is a great achievement in and of itself.

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My friend tipped me off to the next offender in a series of companies that sell to parents with unwise marketing-speak. The company is the maker of many allergy, flu and cold remedies – Triaminic.  But this one is so blatantly obvious that I think it may take the cake of unwise marketing.  Apparently, Triaminic seems to think that moms are in charge of the medicinal needs of their children.  Come on, their tag line “The Medicine of Motherhood,” says so.

Even the sickly sweet cartoon of a baby elephant latching onto its mom on the front page of their website shows who they think runs the snotty nose and watery eye show in the house.  To their little credit, they do try to make a case for EEOP (that’s Exaggerated-attempt to Equal Opportunity Parent) on the same page.  As seen in the “For Parents” section of the site:  

“Moms and Dads can explore the Parents’ area to access useful information to help you care for your family. Get in touch with a Triaminic® expert in the Triaminic Clinic® to learn more about special offers and events.”

That is not enough to please this mom.  ‘Scuse me while I decongest myself. 

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For moms on the go who are sick of all the kiddie games, finally something for us! Fellow blogger points out the new Sephora Monopoly Game for the beauty lover in all of us. Please, I don’t want to go to jail for a bad hair day!

Apparently I’m a part of a new demographic called “Yoga Moms” (or Mamas, if you prefer that).  According to an article, we are highly fashionable (ok, I buy that), health conscious (sometimes) and affluent (not according to my husband).  Apparently Yoga Moms do yoga during pregnancy (I did until I couldn’t possibly twist my enlarged belly any longer), eat mostly organic products, and squire (love that word) our babes around in a Bugaboo stroller (full disclosure, I have one).

On the surface, it would appear that I fit a lot of the “Yoga Mom” criteria.  But upon further reading of the article, and of other “Yoga Mom” posts, I’m beginning to think this is just another case of a marketing researcher trying to pigeonhole his customer base into an unfortunate moniker. 

I definitely don’t fit in with the Yoga Mamas of the BloggingStocks group.  According to the author Sarah Gilbert, she and her Yoga Mama friends, “buy organic cereal under a generic brand… clean with vinegar and water… may not use disposable diapers…” 

Furthermore, Gilbert is trying to “reduce the use of our car”  has a pact with her friends, “no gifts at birthday parties” and doesn’t “need a hugely plastic $99.99 Fisher Price Interactive Play Pyramid to have stimulating play time with our babies.”

Hmm… if that’s what being a Yoga Mom is like, then I want out.  No gifts for babies?  No toys?  What’s the fun of that? No disposable diapers? How much laundry do these moms do in a day? And I can’t get my arms around how these moms get their errands done without using a car (does the Burley trailer really work?).  Sounds like these Yoga Mamas don’t get to Target much.  They’re missing out.   

But the other extreme that I’ve seen, that of buying Burt’s Bees lotion at $8.99 a pop for my baby and buying organic shirts doesn’t quite fit me either.  I’m fine with slapping on the Aquaphor when my son has dry skin.  It works just fine.  And I do buy organic food from Whole Foods, but I’m not opposed to getting his onesies from Old Navy.  Their cotton seems plenty soft.

So as a mom who works in the world of marketing, a word of caution to these researchers- I can do a downward dog as good as the next Yoga Mom.  But let’s try to keep the similarities there, on the mat.

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Apparently Gerber is not alone in writing silly gender specific copy for their baby products.  Second in my series of companies who don’t know who their target audience is is Britax, maker of world-class baby car seats.  As my husband (yes, he gets involved in baby related tasks, shocker!) was installing our new Britax Decathalon (Onyx fabric) car seat, I walked out to check in on his progress.  It was then that of course, I read the outside of the car seat package (written in what had to be 80 pt. font) where Britax explains the benefits of their car seat (Safety! Fashion! Convenience!). But it was the “Convenience” category copy that really caught my eye. Here’s what it said:

“Moms around the world love Britax seats because they’re easy to install correctly (it took 30 minutes find the LATCH cords), and they have great features like one-hand adjustment (?) belt holders (??), built in lockoffs (??!!!??), belly pads (this one made me laugh) and more.”

For starters is the obvious- “MOMS” around the world love Britax? Britax, do dads not drive baby around? But second, and probably more important, is the notion that they actually believe that a mom reads and understands what a “lockoff” is and that is the main reason we bought the seat.  Copywriters: want to know the reason I bought this particular model seat? A few of my NMFs have it and love it.  It was all about the word of mouth.  I didn’t read the copy on the package (who has time?) to know that this was a good and safe seat. I talked to the most important marketer- another mom.
Lesson for Britax- maybe it’s time to find new copywriters.

I’m fired up. Last night as I was unwrapping some Gerber infant spoons for my son to feed him his veggies I noticed on the back packaging some disarming text. Under the description of the product (i.e. “small tip fits easily in baby’s mouth”), was additional text saying: Long, slim handle makes feeding baby easier for mom. Uhm, for WHO!?? Last time I checked my husband fed my son all weekend. Not to say anything about our nanny who feeds him 3 days a week.  As a regular Gerber product buyer, I’m offended that they only consider “mom” feeding the baby. Hey Gerber, it’s 2006.