The great mom divide?

Is there a difference between the stay-at-home mom and the working mom when it comes to consumer behaviour? Harbinger's Jennifer Lomax investigates.

shutterstock_158221823By Jennifer Lomax 

We all know that moms comprise a large and influential portion of the workforce, but have you ever wondered how a mom who is employed differs from a mom who stays at home when it comes to who they are as consumers?

In just a few decades, the labour force participation rate for women has undergone dramatic change. More and more moms are choosing to work, rather than stay at home and assume the role of primary caregiver to her children. Specifically, in 2009, 64.4% of women with children under the age of three were employed, more than double the same figure in 1976.

The good news for marketers is that, working or not, most moms share a core set of values, priorities and brand loyalty drivers. There are also some interesting differences between the working and stay-at-home segments. It would be poor advice to suggest segmenting female consumers on employment status alone; however, in highly competitive, mom-dominated categories (like kids specialty, personal care and grocery), understanding the nuances of specific mom groups may reveal opportunities to connect with consumer audiences in novel ways.

Here are 10 significant findings, when comparing working moms and stay-at-home moms, based on data from the 2014 Harbinger study, Decoding the Female Consumer & Brand Loyalty:

1. Children and family always come first: This may see a bit “no duh,” but employed or not, all moms consider their children a top priority; family is also the top interest for both groups.

2. Health and wellness, morals and ethics are universal values: Working and stay-at-home moms are equally likely to name these as their two most important sets of personal values.

3. Working moms hold more decision power: Full-time working moms report being sole decision maker for 65% of household purchases compared to stay-at-home moms with 51% of purchases.

4. All moms want brands to make life easier: Moms who work full time and those who stay home are equally likely to name “makes my life easier” as a top three brand loyalty driver (68% vs. 69%); moms also shared similar views on the importance of most other drivers.

5. Career priority is consistent with employment status: 53% of full-time working moms versus 32% of part-time working moms and 16% of stay-at-home moms consider career a high or critical priority.

6. Career women care more about appearance: 42% of full-time working moms versus 34% of part-time working moms and 31% of stay-at-home moms consider personal appearance a high or critical priority.

7. Stay-at-home moms are more into romance: 66% of stay-at-home moms versus 53% of working moms consider romance a high or critical priority.

8. Stay-at-home moms care more about home: Home was named an interest or priority more often by stay-at-home moms (73%) than by working moms (67%).

9. Stay-at-home moms are more interested in food: 68% of stay-at-home moms compared to 60% of working moms consider food a high or very high interest.

10. Career women are more financially inclined: 47% of full-time working moms versus 43% of part-time working moms and 40% of stay-at-home moms report high or very high interest in finances and investments.

So, what does this mean to marketers?

At one time or another, we have each come across stereotypes of the career woman and the stay-at-home mom. Some of the facts from our study probably reinforce these archetypes (we will let you be the judge). Although stereotypes tend to paint these segments as very different people, they are fundamentally alike, sharing very similar values, priorities and brand loyalty drivers. True, a mom in the workforce allocates her time very differently and likely considers her career a higher priority than the stay-at-home mom does – but a woman’s employment status and career choices should not be confused with how important she considers her children or her family, nor her personal values.

Jennifer_Lomax_Headshot[1]Jennifer Lomax is VP strategic planning at Harbinger. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock