On a recent clear-skied autumn morning, families milled about Rockefeller Center in Manhattan—clasping shopping bags, gazing into their phones, waiting on benches for straggling loved ones—unaware that 31 floors above them, in a sleek meeting space, a room full of marketers were trying to get inside their heads.
“Moms are the most powerful influencers on the planet,” said one. “She is caring for new life—she will buy anything for that baby,” another said later.
They were onstage at M2Moms, a two-day “marketing to moms conference” in its 14th year. Its 80-odd attendees and speakers—who came from consumer-product companies such as Volvo, Crayola, and Kohl’s, as well as from marketing firms—were gathered to learn how to reach, in the words of Nan McCann, the conference’s organizer, “the females you want to become your customers once, twice, and always.” This knowledge was delivered to M2Moms’ mostly female, mostly white audience in the form of presentations with titles such as “From Bras to Booze: The Principles of Marketing to Mom,” “Decoding High Stressed Moms—How Brands Can Make a Difference,” and “Do You Move at the Speed of Mom?”
The reason companies want to move as quickly as moms is that American mothers are estimated to make the vast majority of household purchasing decisions and collectively spend more than $2 trillion per year. But claiming even a small portion of that spending requires getting through to moms, which in turn requires a great deal of—to employ one of the most frequently used buzzwords at M2Moms—empathy.