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Monday, September 18, 2006

Passing the Torch: Marketing to Moms AND their Daughters

My friend, Sarah Goodman from The Hughes Group, contributed this second post based on her participation in the Seattle Iron Girl event. Her first article is titled Going The Extra Kilometer with Iron Girl Judy Molnar.

When strategizing about reaching the female consumer, do we only focus on those women who will walk into our store this week or this decade? What about their kids -- the next generation of loyal customers? Are we paying attention to them now, and making them feel comfortable in our stores?

According to Iconoculture, 57.9 million Generation Y (under 27) and Millennials (12-22) have already surpassed the spending power of previous generations, because their needs and opinions drive many older adults’ purchase decisions. With spending power of nearly $615 billion per year, they literally represent the future market for most consumer brands.

I was struck by this inevitable “passing of the torch” last weekend at the Seattle Ryka Iron Girl 5K/10K event. Many mothers brought their daughters out to run with them, passing along the value and love for fitness and the outdoors to their little ones, from strollers to walkers to runners.

Before the race began, Iron Girl director Judy Molnar welcomed the nearly 1400 women to the event. She had all the little girls (under the age of 12) raise their hands and had the rest of us cheer them on. I got goose bumps seeing our futures running side by side with us. They kept up well too. The youngest finisher was 7 years old, and an 11 year old placed 13th overall.

At the awards ceremony, the little girls showed obvious enthusiasm and excitement at being a part of the event. The always “ran” to the awards stand, and had the widest smiles for the camera—their carefree spirit was contagious.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the event was the drawing for the B.O.B. fitness stroller at the end of the awards ceremony. The winner was walking with her one month old daughter in a small, very basic stroller. The little baby had a shirt that said “I’m an Iron Girl” and a cute hat to match. As the mom came up to receive her prize, her girlfriends cheered wildly and the entire crowd joined in. Not only were we celebrating someone so committed to fitness getting a major upgrade in a stroller, but also the symbolism of participating with even the youngest of the next generation—an inspiration for women of all ages.

At events like this across the country, women cheer on these girls’ accomplishments, with high hopes for their futures. The question is—what are marketers doing to understand what these girls-turned-women will need and want in 20 years?

The next generation of female consumers has been raised on technology. Iconoculture describes them as “media-immersed”, growing up “praised and raised” for success. They will be better able to balance family, school/work and play than their parents did. They will be looking for ways to connect with others, while developing their own, unique identity.

Although marketing budgets are often limited and long and short term goals need to be prioritized, I believe the companies that focus on the next generation of female consumers sooner rather than later will be in better position to reap the benefits for many years to come.

Consider taking a first step by enthusiastically welcoming the next generation into your stores with their moms, and successfully engaging both in your retail environment!

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