2008 Is The New 1908: Gen Y Moms And The Digital Back Fence

17 09 2008

Anyone who markets to young Moms needs to understand how these women interact with technology. But if you really want to get a clear sense what’s going on, maybe it’s time to fire your futurists, and start taking a closer look at social histories of the early 1900s.

Selling to Gen Y Moms in 2008 looks more and more like selling to new Moms in 1908.

  • Moms share tips and ideas over the “back fence”: community matters more than media. Today that back fence is digital and global, but the behavior is the same.
  • Moms learn about new products from connecting with other Moms, and trust those recommendations over any other
  • Moms tend to view advertising as snake oil salesman. When it’s hard to know which brands have an authentic message, it’s easier to distrust them all.
  • Moms express themselves through home-made items (1908: pies and knitting; 2008: blogs and video)

Research by Yahoo! and Carat Interactive, conducted by Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited takes a fresh look at Generation Y and its uses of media.

“What makes Gen Y people different is the way they are consuming media,” says Beth-Ann Eason, vice president, Category Management at Yahoo!. “Research that Yahoo! and Carat commissioned earlier this year showed that not only are teens spending more time with the Internet than TV, but that they also use the Internet as the hub of their media activity. The Internet is the medium from which all other media decisions get made, and that’s a powerful tool for marketers.”

Gen X and Gen Y Moms: How Are They Different?

In broad terms, it’s safe to say Gen X Moms use the web to get things done, and Gen Y Moms use the web to connect.

NewMediaMetrics recently surveyed moms who visited Parenting.com. While both Gen X and Gen Y Moms had similar objectives of exploring mom-related issues online, Gen Y moms tend to have much higher attachment to interactive tools that allow them to connect directly with other moms: online communities, blogs, video-sharing sites. By contrast, Gen X moms have a more utilitarian view: online shopping, researching and reviewing products, and organizing photos.

For the PDF file on the study, please visit Parenting here. (PDF Download)

Some Surprising Facts

In their 2007 book, Connecting to the Net.Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know About Today’s Students, Reynol Junco and Jeanna Mastrodicasa found that in a survey of 7,705 college students in the US:

* 97% own a computer
* 97% have downloaded music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
* 94% own a cell phone
* 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
* 75% of college students have a Facebook account[17]
* 60% own some type of portable music and/or video device such as an iPod
* 49% regularly download music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
* 34% use websites as their primary source of news
* 28% author a blog and 44% read blogs
* 15% of IM users are logged on 24 hours a day/7 days a week

Are We Seeing Women As They’re Seeing Themselves?

In my opinion, the imagery of Moms in a lot of advertising is in many ways still 20 years behind the times. There are still a lot of 1980s “I can have it all” moments — the Dynasty shoulder pads are gone, but the attitude lingers like Joan Collins’ perfume. In many ways, this summer’s Sex In The City movie had it more right than marketers do: it’s about friends and connections more than it is about some stale image of an uber-Mommy.

And maybe that’s exactly where we need to start. Good marketing starts with good listening and a willingness to learn. Hasn’t it always?

Photo Credit (Mommy Blogger): Scott Beale / Laughing Squid




One response

17 09 2008
Lars Hyland

Great post, Tom.
Further highlights the dramatic shift in attention now that we can remain connected and focused on who and what we want, when we want.


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