Heather MacFadyen shuffles sleepily into the kitchen of her home in Dallas. With a spatula in one hand and one of her four boys on her hip, she logs on to her computer, where a link catches her attention.
She clicks and an ad comes onto the screen, showing images of three mothers engaged in the daily tasks of raising children. The ad follows those children on their journeys to become Olympians. The words, "Thank you, mom" flash across the screen and MacFadyen brushes aside an involuntary tear, identifying deeply with the ad. Logos flash across the screen, closing with "P&G, proud sponsor of moms."
A new movement of media-savvy, financially affluent moms is rising, companies believe. Women control $3.3 trillion in consumer spending in the U.S. — a figure that is expected to grow to a staggering $28 trillion in the next several years, according to the AIO Group, a marketing agency. As brands shift their focus and target mothers, their influence provides both opportunities and potential pitfalls.
"We know a lot about moms," P&G External Relations manager Glenn Williams wrote in an email to the Deseret News. "And we think moms often don't get the thanks they deserve. Moms will always be an important target for us."
What are brands doing?
Eighty-four percent of mothers globally find planning family activities to be worthwhile as long as a special moment is involved, Yahoo and Starcom MediaVest Group found in a study presented to leading brand executives — including Kraft, P&G, Coca Cola and Samsung — at the 2012 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France.
"Brands have understood that moments are important to moms for many years," said Adam Kruse, VP, Global Director, SMG. And moms are looking for help in creating such important moments.
Kraft launched a big fork, little fork campaign, which encourages children to become involved in meal preparation. Coca-Cola partnered with programs like Recyclebank, The World Wildlife Fund, HealthyWeight.net and Triple Play to teach children about exercise, nutrition and social techniques they hope will improve behaviors at home.
The biggest campaign in the history of the company's 175-year operation and perhaps the most far-reaching of campaigns during this year's Olympic games, P&G has launched a global Thank You Mom campaign as part of a "long-term repositioning." Since it's release in April, P&G's Best Job ad — a thank you to mothers — has gone viral, with more than 2.5 million views on Youtube and more than 700,000 likes on Facebook.
"When it comes to Olympic athletes, we also think that behind almost every amazing athlete is an equally amazing mom. She deserves to be thanked and recognized. That's what this Olympic campaign is about," said Glenn Williams, press relations manager of the campaign. P&G has committed to raise $5 million through a portion of sales and donations to support local youth sports programs worldwide.
The millennial mother
It wasn't until nearly the turn of the century that companies really started singling out the mom segment, said Terri Thompson, author of "Tuning into Mom," a book examining the purchasing habits of mothers. Companies have gradually come to understand the role of mothers in household decision-making, as well as the financial impact that mothers have on the economy.
Women will control two-thirds of consumer wealth in the U.S. over the next decade, making them the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in the nation's history. Estimates range from $12 trillion to $40 trillion, according to Senior Partner and Director of New Business Development Claire Behar.
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