A stereotype, according to Webster, is “to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same”.
I wanted to take a moment today to talk about the experience I’ve had being a mom and working with the marketing and advertising industry.
In the game of marketing to parents, a “target demographic” holds the exact definition of “stereotype”.
Let me explain.
On a variety of occasions, in the throes of dialogue where we are dealing business and developing a relationship between my creative endeavor and their marketing goals (to reach parents), there comes a point where a representative will say to me, mind you a parent and more often than not an existing customer, that they’re unable to partner because “my delivery style doesn’t mesh with parents.”
Let’s be sure we’re clear on this before moving on.
Me, a parent, who is a customer of your wares, who is delivering in the style in which you just mentioned, is not a match for your target demographic of “parent”?
Does this sway or hinder me from attempting to conduct business with companies looking to target parents? Not even a little bit. Because I think that there’s an important oversight occurring in regards to the business of marketing to mom and dad. Does it make me consider the competition the next time I’m standing in a store aisle? Absolutely. Because I’ve just heard straight from the horse’s mouth, that this company has no interest in reaching parents.
There is a severely outdated definition of who a parent is.
Read close to any “How to of Marketing” publication and you’ll learn that when it comes to the definition of “parents” in the advertising sense, the resulting image is Ward & June Cleaver. A good majority of you will have no fucking idea who those people are and will need to refer to your old pal, Wikipedia. I blame you not in the slightest and will be here when you get back.
So then what sense does it make that the ones responsible for being sure today’s parents are aware of and choose their product(s) when it’s time to purchase are attempting to reach a massively small fraction of the type of person that is a parent?
Spoiler alert: It makes near none of the sense. Near none.
The dynamics of parenthood have shifted dramatically over time, but the guidelines for advertisers, what is broadly and to a fault referred to as “PR friendly”, has not. It is no longer the majority demographic that a family is comprised of a male and female parent, two and a half kids, a white picket fence and an apple pie in the oven. Family dynamics now consist of two moms, two dads, single parents, one or both parent working from home, or both outside of the home.
Last I checked, The Carters (yes I’m referring to Jay-Z and Beyoncé) have the same purchasing decision to make when choosing a diaper for Blue Ivy as Sally & Sam Smith, a homemaker and retail manager, respectively, who live a non-celebrity life in Middle America. But when you look at advertising initiatives & marketing efforts to parents in mainstream or digital media, a non-traditional family like The Carters is nary what you see portrayed.
I feel like it’s time to re-assess the way we approach shilling our wares or services to parents by not reacting to the occasional use of the word fuck as if a box of Huggies has been product-placed in a porn.