A new study from the folks at NBCU would like all of you single moms out there to know that they’ve figured you out. Oh don’t look at me like that, missy! There’s no segment of humanity that some market research group won’t claim to have pegged – right down to the frequency with which they, as a group, prefer to blink – so why should single moms be any different? But what’s telling (and annoying) about this particular study is how it trades in broad-based demeaning stereotypes, ones that for the most part subtly paint single moms as sad, desperate, and looking for external affirmation regarding their choices. Take note of the following groups, ladies, because corporations and brands everywhere believe THIS is who you are (courtesy of Jezebel):
Catchily named after a woman’s memoir of her time in a mental institution, this group of moms are young, white, and low-income, and “their outlook on life tends to be one of personal sacrifice for their children, and a life interrupted by the birth of a child.” They “may not be the happiest group of women for marketers,” but never fear — they are all over Facebook. Says Lavigne-Delville, “Reach them digitally, and don’t just write them off. Because they’ve got lots of friends.” And who needs affordable childcare when you have people to play Words With Friends with you?
These ladies tend to be Hispanic, tech-savvy, and well-supported by family. Unlike those sad-sack Girl Interrupteds, they’re “extra psyched” to be moms! Their glass is half-full … of merchandising opportunities. Hit them with “inspirational and aspirational messaging” — basically, show them that even though they might be happy now, they’ll be even happier with a scented candle.
These moms are older, have financial difficulties, and may be divorced or widowed. They also have the highest brand loyalty of any group. All you have to do is show that your toilet paper is more reliable than her ex, her job’s dependent-care plan, and a country with a near-nonexistent social safety net, and you’re in!
This group has purple skin and lives on the internet. No, just kidding! They are “experiencing life again and looking for new brands.” They “are a bit of a ‘mommybopper,’ living out those teen years a bit, with online dating, new clothing and going out with friends as common activities.” Basically, this is Dina Lohan.
*banging head slowly on desk*
Better still, I’m told y’all are all about “being traditional” – aspiring to social normalcy, or at least the appearance of it – but in a completely redefined and untraditional way! Which… kind of doesn’t make sense! Because tradition is, by definition, about NOT redefining things! But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
“They’re defining tradition less about the statistics like whether they’re married couples or have biological children and more about the cornerstones and values of what matters in their families like sitting down to eat together.”
So what you’re saying is they’re less about traditional tradition, and more about the new, untraditional tradition, right? Why, it makes total sense now!
Any of this sort of have a palpable ring of condescension about it to you, too? Is anyone else getting a strong tonal undercurrent that smacks of Single moms are unhappy and/or slightly pathetic damaged goods who may spend too much time online and/or pretending to be a teenager (“mommybopper”) and pandering to social norms due to feelings of inadequacy related to their own single-mom-hood (“92% of single moms feel they have more social acceptance than ever”! Praise the Lord!)?
Listen, I get that it’s the job of researchers to try to reduce populations to distilled, easy-to-understand groups – thereby making them more manageable in product-marketing terms – but I find some of these supposed collective attributes downright patronizing, and others more than a little curiously narrow. For example, the “Dream Girl” group tends to be Hispanic and the “Girl Interrupted” group tends to be White? And the other groups are… ? Are any of these women Black? DO BLACK PEOPLE EXIST IN THE WORLD OF MARKETERS? HELP ME MAKE SENSE OF THIS, PEOPLE.
So which group are you a part of, hmm? I’m clearly a Secondlife Mom, though I may also have a touch of Survivor Mom about me. Which I suppose means I’m looking furtively at new brands out of the corner of my eye while clinging desperately to past, known ones? Sure, that totally sounds like me–… Oh wait, no, it sounds nothing like me. Sorry. My bad.
Read more from Tracey Gaughran-Perez at her personal blog Sweetney.com