MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

Like Consumer Like Son | January 27, 2011

It’s common knowledge that all children learn basic skills from Mom and Dad, and that they make parents proud when they walk, talk and tie their shoes for the first time. Less known, however, is the genetic predisposition for product worship — or the process of learning how to shop and consume from parents and elders. You might have a specific brand of laundry detergent, for example, that your mom used when you were a kid; perhaps you can’t imagine using anything else. In psychology, acquiring skills for consumer purchase behavior is called consumer socialization — and it’s proof that consumerism runs in the family (see below).

This process is important for marketers because they can essentially acquire two markets by selling one product. To stick with the example from above, a company that produces laundry detergent would be wise to target moms who are looking to clean tough stains from their kids’ clothes after a long day of playing in the dirt. These moms buy the brand consistently and they become loyal customers; their kids, usually tagging along while Mom does the household shopping, become accustomed to the packaging and learn which product to pick up and put in the shopping cart. Kids, now familiar with the brand, will likely choose it when they have their own choice of laundry detergent. There are now two loyal customers, all from targeting moms effectively.

Meanwhile, an important aspect to consider is that moms are now using social media more than ever, which should affect marketers and how they reach out to potential customers. Along with CafeMom, an online community for mothers, the ad agency Razorfish released a study called “Digital Mom” in 2009 that compiled data from 1,500 survey responses from moms aged 18 to 64 with at least one child under 18 in the household. The study profiled different types of mothers and found that moms under 35 use social networks, SMS and mobile browsing while moms 45 and up use websites, online consumer reviews and podcasts. The key factor is that many moms are engaging in new media to learn about products and to make decisions about what to buy for themselves and for their children. Marketers would be wise to capitalize on this knowledge and adapt their campaigns to suit the needs of moms who could potentially bring them those two generations of customers.

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    Established in 2009 at USC, the Master's of Science in Human Behavior is designed to equip students with knowledge of consumer psychology, social media and market analysis skills. This is our blog. Subscribe

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