My mother always said that her three children were the most important thing in her life. Blanketed in the narcissism of childhood, I not only believed this to be true, but went several steps further - taking it as a given that my siblings and I were our mother's singular focus. Really, it wasn't until I reached college age that I fully understood that being a mom and having interests beyond one's children were not mutually exclusive. Having had this epiphany, its now clear that, like all moms, my mother worked hard to balance work, parenting, friends, and personal interests.

Mothers of young children today face similar challenges, however, to manage their priorities, they use the Internet in a way my mother never did - both for utility and as a communication platform. When it comes to their online activities, moms are not only moms, but also, individuals, with their own diverse sets of interests.

Digital Channels: Key at All Stages of the Purchasing Cycle

From a marketing standpoint, the "Mommy" segment has always been an attractive one. After all, moms shop not just for themselves, but for their entire household.

If you are looking to attract their attention, its important to note that as moms' media consumption patterns shift, the digital channel has become increasingly important for influencing their numerous buying choices. Many of the 34 million moms online [1] learn about products for the first time not via TV, but online. Then, looking to get more information, they turn to Web resources such as online reviews and search. Finally, when they are ready to purchase, they seek out online destinations to save time.

The Household's Chief Purchasing Officers

According to Experian Simmons' 2007-2008 Survey, 70% of online moms made a purchase on the Web in the past 12 months. Their top three purchase categories were apparel and accessories (36% made a purchase); books, music and video (31%); and toys and games (24%). It is true that moms often make online purchases for their kids and family, but they also routinely shop for themselves.

And, when it comes to spendng, moms are hardly using their childrens' Monopoly money. On the contrary, 38% of moms surveyed by Experian had they spent at least $200 on online purchases over the past year and 13% coughed up $1,000 or more.

Once moms do find something they like, their influence extends well beyond their own families. Nielsen found that women ages 25 to 54 with at least one child were not only highly likely to give advice about parenting/family issues (88% more likely than the typical Internet user), they were also more likely to share information about household and beauty/cosmetic products. [2]

Finding Moms in their Natural Habitats:

For marketers looking to reach this group, there are a multitude of ways to do so. Moms are both regular searchers and frequent visitors to parenting and family, news, weather and political content sites. As shown in the chart below, marketing to the digital mom is best down through web links (43.1%) and sponsored search results (41.9%). [3]

Note, however, if you are looking to reach my mother, her online activities are centered around her grown daughter.

You didn't expect the narcissism of youth to fade completely, did you?

[1] eMarketer, "Moms Online: More Influential Than Ever", May 2009
[2] Nielsen Online, "FallPlan2008", Oct 2008
[3] Experian Simmons, provided to eMarketer, April 2009; eMarketer calculations, May 2009. Note: ages 18+ with at least one child under 18 in household; used Internet from home or work in past seven days.