As an account planner that works closely with EMA’s New Moms specialty group, I’ve been immersed in the world of motherhood over the years analyzing the “voice of customer” to help brands have better conversations about the things that matter most to moms. As a new mom myself (my son just turned one year old), I’ve realized that I’m part of that voice now too—and lately I’ve felt a disconnect with two of the most common terms used to describe this audience: Stay-at-Home-Mom and Working Mother.
In 2014, we’re living in a world of unprecedented connectivity. A 2013 Edison Research Survey found that 64% of moms own a smartphone, and 90% of moms have Internet access from any location. With the millennial generation coming into adulthood (one in three adults will be a millennial by 2020) we’re also seeing an evolutionary shift in “traditional” societal norms—millennial women wait longer than past generations to get married, voluntarily become single parents, and they’re dramatically changing the rules in the workforce. A recent article in the Washington Post stated that women today expect workplace flexibility (no more 9-to-5), and feel confident they can do quality work in part because of technology that enhances their abilities to multi-task. In this context, the Stay-at-Home-Mom and Working Mother are quickly becoming inaccurate terms to describe a woman’s work-life balance.
This description paints a very black and white view of motherhood: that a woman either chooses to stay in her home and be devoted to her children, or she chooses to be elsewhere to explore other interests. Technology has made “office space” an abstract concept as more people work remotely than ever before. The reality is that mom isn’t “staying” anywhere—she’s a multitasking, mobile maven who is no longer confined to four walls and a single role. Even if she’s physically in her home, she could be momming it in front of the high chair one minute, and meeting with business executives in front of her computer the next.
As the Washington Post article states, “today’s working women are not the fretting, overstressed women we’ve been reading about for 20 or 30 years.” Today’s woman—more than ever before—is nurturing a career, as opposed to just clocking time for a paycheck. The word “working” connotes a sort of “pack mule” feeling, as if a woman with a job and a family is saddled with so many responsibilities, she’s all but panting for a free moment to take a load off. The truth is, the working moms of today aren’t necessarily out there “laboring” to make ends meet so they can support their families, they’re continuing to develop their careers because it provides a sense of self fulfillment and yes, enjoyment.
The Modern Professional Mom
There needs to be a term that reflects a woman’s desire—and increasing ability—to balance her career with her obligations to family.
She’s no longer a servant of the workforce, she’s a professional—whether she maintains a mommy blog from her living room, sells crafts on Etsy, or joins conference calls from behind the stroller—she is balancing responsibilities beyond diaper changes and play dates.
She’s not limited by the expectations of a traditional workforce—she’s part of the modern evolution to virtual office spaces, working on the go, and flexible hours.
What This Means for Marketers
It’s time to change the conversation. Women no longer have to make choices between continuing their careers or raising their families—the modern world is making it possible to effectively do both. Brands that recognize the multiple roles moms fulfill have a better opportunity to connect with her, especially if they’re reaching her online and through social media—the conduit to her uber-balanced lifestyle.
Brands that continue to talk to women as homemakers OR workhorses, will miss the opportunity to connect with the growing, thriving Mod-Pro Mom population.