An untapped marketWritten by Kristine Hoffman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
They are termed “Ivy League Moms.” Although they haven’t necessarily attended an Ivy League school, this newly identified demographic group is highly educated and business savvy. These women often leave lucrative careers to raise their children, with the expectation of returning to the workforce. This, according to a 2006 study done by Boston-based financial consulting firm, Aite Group, represents a consumer segment with an estimated size of nearly 10 million households and investable assets of $6.5 trillion. And, corporations are beginning to notice this once-unidentified target audience.
Ekaterina Walsh, Ph.D., is research director with Aite Group and author of this report. She says these women have distinct needs and will leave when a firm doesn’t meet them. The report examines the target audience’s demands for service and states that this sub-segment should not be overlooked.
The American Marketing Association states that regardless of how a company segments its business, the company’s primary target audience should be those customers who make up the bulk of its business or are the most profitable. The Aite Group study is the first to explore — from a marketing perspective — the issue of highly educated women who are leaving the workforce to raise children. The women reflected in the Aite Group study are affluent; they manage investments and influence their high-net-worth spouses. They, themselves, are on their way to more wealth as they plan to re-enter the workforce. This target group, according to Aite Group, has been untapped and undefined to date, particularly as it relates to the financial sector.
The Aite Group report states that this demographic is loyal, therefore may be with a company for a long period of time, another reason to consider the audience’s worth from a marketing perspective. Walsh notes in an August 2006 U.S. Banker article, “The Ivy League Mom name reflects the intellectual prowess of these highly-educated women. They are unique and demanding, but lucrative for any financial institution. While all marketers must take notice of Ivy League Moms, it’s especially important that financial services firms do. These consumers are their dream come true.”
Once a corporation identifies a target audience, its brand identification and marketing efforts must make a connection with its demographic segment.
Linda Wolf, chairwoman and CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide, cites studies that indicate that 65 percent of women between the ages of 35 and 40 feel advertising aimed at women is patronizing; 50 percent find certain ads to be old fashioned. This is bad news for the advertising industry, according to Cheryl Berman, chief creative officer for Leo Burnett USA. Burnett’s creative team also reports that 50 percent of Ivy League MBA graduates are female and one in four married women today make more money than their husbands.
Burnett personnel state that women’s buying habits are changing, and more and more women are the consumers of such items as guns and alcohol. Because women make the bulk of the buying decisions, corporations need to be much more aware of what makes savvy women tick, the Burnett creative team continues.
At the root of the existence of this newly identified target audience is the never-ending conflict for moms: work “outside the home” or work as a “stay-at-home” mom.
The Ivy League Mom is charitable, devoted to her community and is motivated by both family and career, according to the Aite study. Thus, she must be marketed to differently than other target audiences and may even respond to marketing efforts geared towards this inner conflict, according to numerous marketing experts. Walsh said, “One of the reasons they feel the conflict is that they made that choice themselves … because they have a choice. These women are blessed to have that choice.”
Kristine Hoffman is host and producer of “Business 360” and appears on WGTE-TV every Monday and Friday night during PBS’ “Nightly Business Report.”