Mommy Market Takes a Hit


momzilla1-570x350Editor’s note:  Today’s post comes from PMS Pammie. (Schadenfreude alert: She spotted a few stories that were easy targets for snarky commentary…)

‘Scuse me a moment while I take something for some miserable cramps. Endometriosis is one condition that likes to announce itself viscerally.

Okay while the pain killers take effect I’d like to revel in the fact that the bloom is off the rose in the “mommy market.” Seems retailers are beginning to realize that “mommies” have less disposable income to dispose of in a tightening economy.

The New York Times has a front page story, To Buy Children’s Gifts, Mothers Do Without. Apparently mothers sacrificing is news?? Interesting. I thought that came with the territory. Now check out the photo that goes with this story. There are a few things wrong with this picture. First of all what individual child should be getting this sort of haul in a downturn? And this quote from the sacrificing mother, “I want her to be able to look back and say ‘even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.”

Um, come again? Isn’t there a life lesson here to be taught about the fact that we all can do with a little belt tightening when the economy hits the skids. Is “stuff” the most important thing you can give your daughter. I understand the desire to want a few things under the tree but getting your daughter a full blown plastic fake kitchen while your real kitchen needs a dishwasher seems a tad ironic.

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The article goes on to say that with mommies buying less for themselves the women’s apparel industry is going to be among the hardest hit. Hmmm. I sense an opportunity here, a silver lining in fact!  More deep discounted sweaters, shoes, coats and other accessories for us! For once, infertile women and women who elected not to have children might get some attention.

Yoohoo advertisers we’re over here — bring your ad spend to our blogs. Hang on…this should get their attention: Non-mommies have more disposable income than mommies.

And what other story caught my eye? Well how about the dust up with Motrin? Mommy bloggers were out in force recently complaining about the “condescending” tone of a Motrin ad that targeted moms who wear their babies as fashion accessories. A company with a large ad budget clearly saw an opportunity. They wouldn’t have spent the money on the ad if they didn’t see a market. One self described “as a mom” didn’t taken take issue with the underlying content (mommies do wear their babies) but rather the stereotype that it perpetuated. Seems the same women who use their baby pictures as their avatars and carry their infants as a trophies were the the ones who were most up in arms. This struck me as particularly rich. Perhaps the ad hit a little too close to home?

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BTW, Motrin — got anything for cramps?


19 Responses

  1. WaterBishop

    November 26, 2008 6:19 pm

    Even in our best year, we never had a haul like that as kids. If that is what they get their kids for a scaling back year, then those people need a reality check.

    I found the whole Motrin debacle highly amusing. I am sorry, but wearing your baby in a sling IS trendy. Until very recently there was only one type of snuggly contraption to wear your baby and very few women ever wore them. Hence the whole birth of the SUV stroller. Now it is en vogue to use a sling, and I always have wondered how many backaches those women get.

  2. Kami

    November 26, 2008 6:37 pm

    I love you Pammie! I knew when I read the first paragraph that I would enjoy being outraged. 🙂

    First of all . . . disgusting the amount of stuff that woman bought for her kid. And the trade off being designer jeans? Poor thing! I go without a lot more – not to buy my kid stuff, but rather to buy a kid (if you know what I mean).

    I wasn’t offended by the motrin add at all – and I am an avid baby wearer. Who cares what they think? I’m just lucky to have a baby to wear. As for fashion? I am still embarrassed when people pay attention to our little one. I would like to go through society complete unnoticed and usually I am an attention whore. Why the difference? Because when I am noticed – or more accurately, when LB is noticed – I am reminded that someone dealing with infertility may be noticing too and feel sad because of it.

    Hmmm . . .maybe there is a blog post in there.

    Anyway, thanks again for your wonderful posts!

  3. luna

    November 26, 2008 6:46 pm

    the never-ending quest for more “stuff” is always annoying, ever more so when its baby and kid gear and toxic plastic toys. seems there are far more important “things” to gift your kid in times like these…

    wouldn’t it be interesting if families without children became the new target demographic?

    I also found the motrin issue highly amusing. especially how fast they took it down.

  4. loribeth

    November 26, 2008 7:05 pm

    Awwww poooor mommies!! No designer jeans for them! (What planet are these people living on??)

    There was another NYT article not too long ago about children facing the current economic upheaval, & what do you tell them as a parent. Many of these kids have never been told “no” in their lives & it’s been a real shock.

    My own teenaged nephews must have every video game & every video game system ever produced, not to mention iPods, cellphones, laptops, DVDs & players, & other “toys” that they view as necessities. (Dh & I, by contrast, are only on our second computer & third barebones model cellphone in 12 years, & still have our original Nintendo system with Duck Hunt & Super Mario.)(Our book collection, on the other hand…!) I love them dearly but sometimes I fear they are in for a rude awakening one of these days.

    By the way, I’ve used Motrin for cramps for years. ; )

  5. MLO

    November 26, 2008 7:19 pm

    I heard about the Motrin ad thing and thought – people are dumb. It was not nearly as offensive as the Brooke Shields VW ads that even my DH thinks are offensive.

    The baby sling thing is a return to an earlier time when various forms of swaddling were the norm. But, hey, the dangers of having studied history are manifold. 😉

    As to the endo issue causing pain, when was the last time you had allergy testing? Is it possible you may have a low level food allergy that if you cut it out of you diet the pain might lessen? The reason I ask is two-fold:

    1. Almost all of the women on the allergy lists I frequent had menstrual cramps disappear once they cut out even minor food allergies.

    2. Every 7 to 10 years our immune systems change. So, if you have been over 7 years since allergy testing, it might be worth looking into.

    Ultimately, around ad revenue targeting women (mommy or otherwise) – they really don’t do it seriously. The coveted market is 18 to 30 year old single males who have never grown up. I know some, they really do spend money on all kinds of useless stuff! Maybe I’m just too cynical in my old age?

  6. Renee

    November 26, 2008 7:27 pm

    how i love this post! btw, i work for the large pharma company that is the parent company for the brand Motrin. i am not in marketing, but that campaign really was a boo-boo. marketing folks are on the pulse of all the mommy blogs, so it’s not surprising that it was taken down with speed to rival superman. normally, i bristle at the mommy blogs and tend toward the side of us infertiles. for whatever, reason, i agree that it did sound kind of condescending.

    as you state, never mind that we are a neglected demographic…..

  7. DD

    November 26, 2008 7:40 pm

    So I’ve heard about the Motrin commercial and finally went to youtube to view (

    What exactly is the problem?

    You would think that the VW commercials with Brooke Shields would be more controversial (I find them strangely humorous as well).

    You don’t see infertile women protesting the “Have a Happy Period” ads, do you?

    Just goes to show who has a sense of humor.

    • MLO

      November 26, 2008 9:19 pm

      Actually, the “Have a Happy Period” ads from Always have been panned on almost every message board that has lots of women on it – think knitting, crochet, crosstitch, even cooking blogs (made the male readers cringe). The consensus? Some clueless male muckety-muck came up with that silliness.

  8. Alacrity

    November 26, 2008 8:47 pm

    Thanks for this fun post PJ!!

    What a terrible dilemma for that poor mom to have to choose between designer jeans and a truckload of plastic for her daughter. These really are tough times.


    My suggestion would be to take all of the toys that she is storing in those plastic bins (in the background of the picture) and melt them down to make new toys. Then she could get the jeans.

    Seriously though, it is frightening what so many kids can expect to receive on their birthdays or for holidays.

    We actually stopped going to my sister’s house for any holidays because we found the excess to be absolutely sickening, whether it was the sheer multitude of gifts (nearly $900 worth for a birthday), over-extravagance (diamond earrings for an eleven year old – HELLO!), or just plain excess (piles and piles of easter candy). We just couldn’t stand to watch anymore.

    Hope the cramps ease up soon, but feel free to keep the snarky posts coming – hey it is the holiday season, and we all need something to smile about.

  9. JuliaKB

    November 26, 2008 10:22 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about the plastic mom. Working hard to raise the next generation of plastic people. Ugh…

    At the same time, not so much agreement about the Motrin ad. For one, I do not wear my son as a fashion accessory. I wear him if/when I need to have my hands free, there is no room for the stroller where we are going, or it’s likely to be noisy/uncomfortable for him in some way unless he is in the sling, warmed to sleep by the giant waterbottle that is me. I am also not wearing to show him off. In fact, I am decidedly uncomfortable when I/he becomes the center of attention. The thing is, I have had better luck being unobtrusive with him sleeping in the sling facing me and bundled up nicely than with him in the stroller.

    For another, I am sure there must be a way to market to the demographic in question without patronizing anyone. And if there isn’t, then maybe there is no demographic they are going for. Because if they are really aiming at mothers who wear babies because of peer pressure rather than because it simplifies their lives, I am not sure I met any representative of such a demographic. Ever. On the other hand, if they think the demographic is mothers who wear babies, then not patronizing them is a good approach to getting them to buy the product. Just saying.

    I think what I am trying to say is that just because mothers have been in the cross hairs of the advertising industry forever doesn’t mean that once in a while (ok, a lot) that industry can’t also do something stupid and offensive to that very group.

    And for the record, I hate Brook Shields ads, and I always sneered at the happy period ad too. Luckily, having TiVo means I don’t have to watch those, or any commercials. Keeps blood pressure down.

  10. Io

    November 27, 2008 1:13 am

    Ug. The NYT article is disgusting.
    The Motrin thing just seemed stupid. I kind of snickered at the ad – yes, it was condescending, which was a stupid idea as one doesn’t want to insult the target, but lord knows babywearing is the trendy thing.
    I gots the cramps too, so just know that somewhere out there is another bitchy crampy woman who adores you.

  11. Me

    November 27, 2008 1:47 am

    OMFG this post had me ROLLING!!!

    “I sense an opportunity here, a silver lining in fact! More deep discounted sweaters, shoes, coats and other accessories for us!”

    Too right!

    “Seems the same women who use their baby pictures as their avatars and carry their infants as a trophies were the the ones who were most up in arms. This struck me as particularly rich. Perhaps the ad hit a little too close to home?”

    Too right again!

    PJ – you are truly my heroine!

  12. Me

    November 27, 2008 1:56 am

    Ok, thanks to DD I just went and watched the commercial. I am totally rolling on the floor laughing my a$$ off!!! I don’t think they MEANT it as condescending. I think they meant it as empathetic. But I can totally see how the mommies didn’t take it that way. But in my IF world that is just FREAKING HILARIOUS!!!

  13. Journeywoman

    November 27, 2008 1:46 pm

    Great Great post. I too am stunned at the haul these kids get. I mean, really, why on earth does a kids need all that?

    Hope the holiday brings peace.

  14. Korechronicles

    November 28, 2008 8:41 am

    I had to comment just on the basis of your second sentence. I know exactly of what you speak.

    And the “No designer jeans for me” mother this Christmas? I can’t believe she used the word “stuff” in relation to her daughter’s Christmas gifts. When we have our regular clean-outs destined for the thrift shop the standard sentence used if someone can’t decide whether to keep it or let it go is: “Well, you know…it’s just stuff” With the emphasis on the nothingness of stuff.

    Great post, as always, PJ.

  15. Kymberli

    November 29, 2008 1:37 am

    All I could do was giggle. I knew people would be up in arms about it. Oh boo-freakin’-hoo to all the whining about the commercial.

    I left something for you on my blog, PJ!

  16. Bea

    November 29, 2008 10:02 am

    Oh boo bloody hoo no designer jeans times are that “tough”. “Tough” means missing out on a lot more than designer jeans in my book. And that is way too many gifts for any kid on any one occasion. They could have found a more convincing person to convey the story. Perhaps someone who was actually in a pinch.

    As for the baby-wearing ad – that did grate a bit on me, to be honest. I wear a baby, but I’m horrified to think anyone would imagine me doing so because it “totally makes me look like an official mum”. I do it because I can’t listen to endless screaming, and nobody around me wants to, either. I guess my irritation comes as an infertile woman, rather than as a mum.


  17. Dana

    November 29, 2008 4:18 pm

    I read the caption below the photo first, and nearly lost my breakfast. This “poor” woman is putting off buying a pair of designer jeans to buy all those presents? Good grief. I haven’t bought myself a new pair of *Target* jeans in nearly 5 years.

    Wow. Tough times indeed. 😉

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