The most powerful marketing opportunities, the ones that start movements and build momentum, come from recognizing a segment that has been there all along, yet was never directly addressed. For the last several years brands have been extending their reach and loyalty by developing campaigns to connect with the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) or the Hispanic market, both of which wield huge amounts of spending power, and certainly did not just pop up out of nowhere. Women have been dissected down further - both by generation (Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers) and parental status (Moms and Non-Moms). And in that scenario, because they buy for so many, Moms are the hot market to chase. Generally speaking, Moms are targeted with emotional messages about caring for families, being pressed for time and trying to do more with less. Non-Moms get "me" messages that are about reveling in the joys of kid-free lives: more beauty products, more travel, more clothes. But what about the Non-Moms who love kids? Who is talking to them?
Melanie Notkin (pictured above), a self-described "auntrepreneur" launched Savvy Auntie this past July due to her desire to have a place where she could revel in her pride in being an aunt and connect with other women who had very important children in their lives that weren't necessarily their own. In the first 2 months, without any advertising, Melanie's site had attracted 50,000 visitors.
Marketing to aunts or PANK's (Professional Aunts, No Kids), as Melanie refers to them, gives brands the best of both worlds - women who have a deep attachment to children and want to spend time and money on them but who also have the time and disposable income to spend on themselves. As budgets tighten and retirement nest eggs continue to crack, aunts may be the best option to purchase the more indulgent items that parents and grandparents are being forced to strike from their shopping lists. And as Non-Moms begin to comprise over 50% of the adult female population, it doesn't make sense to ignore them. Check out this stat from a press release on the Savvy Auntie website:
This aunt acknowledgment is reminiscent of the Right Hand campaign launched by DeBeers in 2003. Before then, in the jewelry world, women were divided into Brides and Non-Brides. Only one could credibly aspire to wear a diamond ring. DeBeers gave voice to a population of women who had financial means, were not married and/or weren't interested in waiting to receive a diamond ring from a man (or for that to be the only permissible reason to wear one) and opened up a whole new market segment and selling opportunity. Single women, whether young, old, straight or gay, began to adopt right hand rings as their statement of independence and success. Many married women found the concept appealing as well. The campaign struck a powerful emotional chord that DeBeers could not have manufactured, they simply tapped in to something that was already there, just waiting to be named.
I believe recognition of "aunting" has the potential to resonate on an equally deep level. Think of all the products developed to foster the connection between grandparents and grandchildren. Aunts and uncles can have very powerful relationships and a profound impact on kids but those roles have no such cultural mirror. Moreover "auntie" in many cultures is a term of endearment applied to any adult woman important in a child's life, regardless of actual blood relation, expanding the definition even further. And the role is quite distinct from that of parent or grandparent. Aunts can be confidantes, friends, supercool babysitters, shopping buddies, secret sharers (they know the stuff about mom or dad that grandma and grandpa still haven't figured out), homework helpers and surrogate parents, often flowing in and out of those roles as needed.
Savvy Auntie's tagline is:The First Community for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids. All Women Who Love Kids. Talk about emotional.
Aunties of the World - Go spoil your nieces and nephews!