Have you caught the new Goldfish commercial encouraging kids to go outside and get active? How about all the Mott’s commercials aired recently featuring Desperate Housewives’ actress, Marcia Cross, on how their apple juice and apple sauce is a good way to give children their daily source of fruits? It’s no coincidence that increasingly you may be seeing commercials and ads targeted towards moms and children. According to the New York Times, when times are tough, whatever merchandise consumers are still buying is purchased in the following order: first, for the children; then for mom; next, for the pets; and finally, for dad.
Apparently advertisers are following this same trend, in many cases expanding efforts around selling products aimed at children and mothers in an effort to increase market share. For example, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish recently partnered up with the Cartoon Network cable channel for a “National Recess Week” promotion, centered on encouraging school-age children to be more active. And after a ten year hiatus from television advertising, Mott’s apple juice and apple sauce returned to television in a campaign intended to convince mothers that those products are a good source of the fruit their children ought to eat daily.
Also pointing towards this mom and child marketing trend are a couple of soon to be announced agreements between the Walt Disney Company and two major marketers – J. C. Penney and State Farm. The Penney deal is centered on the popular “Hannah Montana” series on the Disney Channel, and also includes Disney Online, Radio Disney and Family Fun magazine. The State Farm campaign is focused on the Disney Channel and stars actress Selena Gomez of Wizards of Waverly Place in ads to help encourage safe driving among teenagers.
So what does this mom-based marketing trend all really mean? For one thing, amidst these challenging times and ever-shrinking budgets, more and more advertisers are choosing to focus all of their efforts on one demographic instead of trying to expand their reach. Is this a smart choice? Is it wise to ignore other demographics that still have value? It’s hard to say. One way to judge is to look at a brand that has managed to thrive during this recession.
While most companies are struggling to stay afloat, McDonalds’ profits and stock price are up, and business couldn’t be better. So what’s their secret recession-proof sauce? According to a CNN interview with McDonald’s Company Executive, Karen Wells, “There’s two things that’s really attributed to McDonald’s success. First and foremost, listening to our customers. It’s menu variety, it’s value and affordable prices at McDonald’s and the convenience that only McDonald’s can offer. The other piece is our system alignment around one plan. You know, under the arches we have a term called the three-legged stool. It’s our franchisees, our suppliers and our corporate staff working together. Those are the two things that have worked for McDonald’s and our success.”
If advertisers can take any lesson away from McDonalds it seems to be that success during a recession means working together internally to know your audience and cater exactly to their needs. So if it’s the moms and children of the world who are watching these commercials and buying these products, then these advertisers might be onto something. And while I can’t predict when the economic situation will finally become brighter, I can predict many more kid-friendly commercials in our future.