Moms are Talking Technology. Are Brands and Retailers Listening?
Moms have always been the “CEO’s” of the family, the CMO’s (“Chief Memory Officer),” as well as “Chief Health Officer” (“Dr. Mom”). Now it’s time to add “CTO” to their roles. Chief Technology Officer. This was a conclusion made loud and clear during a new Mommy Tech track at the Consumer Electronics Show last month. Yes, persuaded by moms who consult in technology, run technology companies, and who blog about technology, CES added a track called “Mommy Tech.” Finally. Not only do moms control 80% of household spending, but according to the Mommy Tech folks, moms will spend “$90 billion on Smartphones, netbooks, digital cameras, in-car technology, home monitoring and other gadgets and services that make life enjoyable, safe and organized.” They need products/services to help them save time, balance their professional and personal lives, manage the household, and enable them to do the best for their children.
As a retail and trade show analyst (who has been following mommy-blogs), I listened to these conclusions and wondered if brands and stores are getting the message? If moms are making major decisions about technology products for the family and the household, are stores sending the right messages to Moms as Chief Technology Officers? Are they speaking Mommy Tech language and pushing the right buttons to get moms’ business? Do brands and retailers understand the power of this influential group? Are they listening?
Moms regard technology products as “tools, not toys.” Men may be more likely than women to view technology devices as TOYS, meaning the more features, the better. However, moms, who are trying to balance family, household, career, hobbies and social connections, believe a good technology device must be a TOOL. They want devices to make their lives easier, help them run busy households, stay organized, keep balance, and be the glue that keeps the family together. The tool must save her time, make her life easier and help her stay connected.
• A good technology device is one that “solves a problem a mom did not know she had.”
• “The best user experience is not one that requires you to do the most, but to do the least.”
There are distinct differences in the in-store promotion of a technology device if it is considered a “toy” versus a “tool.” If a camera is considered a toy, it is appropriate to promote the number of features the camera has, for example, “This camera has fifty functions, all of which give you superior performance.” If a camera is viewed as a tool, the most powerful message to a mom who is online daily with friends, might be “Here is a simple way to share pictures with your friends.” According to the NPD Group, “Moms have a greater than average proportion of spend in digital cameras and camcorders,” so we need to get this right. Marketers and retailers of technology products must speak to CTO Moms and educate them about the specific benefits of the newest “tools” and how they fit into their busy lifestyles.
Technology devices have let moms down and as a result moms have developed inferiority complexes. No more. They are demanding more of manufacturers and brands. They are writing about gadgets and gizmos. They are blogging about the good and the bad. They have protested and stopped advertising campaigns as well as created others. There is a new respect for the power of mommy-bloggers. The mom who has a good or bad experience with a technology product/brand or shopping experience not only tells her friends and family, but may blog about it to thousands of other moms. Digital moms are writing blogs about technology products and “technology has amplified our voices,” says Susan Getgood. Blogging and socially conversant moms are “validating the worth” of many technology products.
Women are passing on their experience and love of technology. Women who were executives in technology companies have raised “digital daughters.” Twenty-to-thirty-year old digital daughters are raising “digital kids.” Technology purchase behavior changes after becoming a mother. And there are distinct needs for new moms as well as “seasoned moms” (35 years+). According to BabyCenter’s 21st Century Tech Mom Report, January 2010, there are tech products women are most likely to buy during different stages of motherhood, for example:
A mom’s interest in technology ranges from a connected household to a connected car. Furthermore, moms are encouraging their whole family to enjoy technology together. Moms are the family connectors. So the obvious question becomes are retailers training their sales associates to speak to moms not only about the benefits of individual products, but the power of integrated and converged systems? The camera, MP3 player and phone are connected to a laptop. In addition to smart phones, there are smart appliances and smart cars. Imagine how loyal moms would be to retailers who understand the relationships between tech products and can offer ideas on how to set up a truly smooth-running household.
Moms are integral to the tech purchase process, and according to BabyCenter, may look for different things in a tech product than their spouse or partner. For example, when buying a TV, she cares most about price, how the TV fits into the décor, and ease of use. He cares most about screen size, high definition and HDMI hook-ups. Furthermore, moms have different stages of involvement with technology products. There is not just one stage of involvement with a technology product but multiple stages of interaction. In fact, moms and dads have different levels of involvement at these stages:
1. State the need for a product, brand
2. Research the options/features
3. Buy the product
4. Use the product
5. Handle any service problems after purchase
Dads may be more likely to actually be at the purchase event (in-store or online), but moms may be more likely to have done the research and handle all customer service events afterwards. Certainly, this has implications for the Geek Squad at Best Buy or the Blue Team at Sears. Customer Service Reps may need to meet different customer satisfaction standards for CTO moms, compared to dads.
According to the 21st Century Mom Report, Mom’s 2010 Gadget Wish List includes a laptop, Wii Fit, HDTV, Blue Ray player, external hard drive, iPhone, HD camcorder, portable DVD player, Garmin GPS, and a digital camera. The laptop is the major driver of many of the tech products and retailers should be aware of the opportunity to promote it as a hub. NPD’s Liz Cutting says that to sell any technology product to moms, “validate the value, educate efficiently and please her with the value.” Moms are not only consumers but vocal tech savvy consumers. As one speaker said, “Mom is paying attention like a pit bull. She is on it.” And she deserves the best thinking from brands and retailers to respond to her needs.
I would like to send a big (second) thank you to some of the moms who talked technology at CES and…
Articulated the issues: Rebecca Ayers who organized the summit and Becky Worley, Tech Reporter/Producer, ABC “Good Morning America,” who kicked off the sessions
Analyzed the issues: Liz Cutting, Director The NPD Group and Tina Sharkey, Chairman and Global President, BabyCenter
Blog about the issues: Beth Blecherman, Founder, TechMamas.com, Susan Getgood, Cofounder, Blog with Integrity and Principal Getgood Strategic Marketing
Give us Great Products: Lisa Conguergood, CMO Picnik, and Jennifer Smiczek, Product Director, The Print Shop
Sponsored Mommy Tech: