Tuning into Mom: Understanding America's Most Powerful Consumer

Tuning into Mom: Understanding America's Most Powerful Consumer

by Michal Clements, Teri Lucie Thompson

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American mothers are household CFOs, in charge of an estimated $2.45 trillion in direct spending. They are also an important influence on other family members' buying habits. Many organizations have identified moms as an important customer group, but the broad, age-based definitions these companies work with mask an array of different consumer behaviors. Written by


American mothers are household CFOs, in charge of an estimated $2.45 trillion in direct spending. They are also an important influence on other family members' buying habits. Many organizations have identified moms as an important customer group, but the broad, age-based definitions these companies work with mask an array of different consumer behaviors. Written by two leading marketers, this book provides a new approach to understanding the “American Mom” market, examining the mom’s influence on (or control of) the purchasing habits of children of all ages, from infants and toddlers to young adults, and bring focus to the frequently overlooked purchase influence of moms on teenagers. The authors combine large-scale quantitative research of more than 4,700 mothers with qualitative case studies from individual participants. Highly recommended for practitioners in retailing and product development, this book will also be a valuable supplemental text for college courses in consumer behavior and marketing strategy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Tuning into Mom lives up to its title’s promise by helping readers understand the mind-set of moms. The authors “listened” to over 4,500 moms, capturing invaluable insights for businesses, marketers, and researchers across a range of consumer categories. As a marketer to moms, it is critical to understand mom’s values and attitudes. I can complement that understanding with the rich insights in this book. I know you’ll find it just as valuable for your business, whether it’s technology or textiles.”

                         ~ Brigette Wolf, Brand Manager, Global Oreo Innovation, Kraft Foods


“With more than twenty-five years of experience leading consumer-driven businesses and brands in categories ranging from restaurants to wireless, I know how important it is to capture the hearts and minds of moms. Tuning into Mom provides a fresh perspective for brands that recognize mom as an important purchaser or purchase influencer of their goods and services. It will certainly stimulate new thinking and generate category-specific creative solutions to better impact mom as a consumer and influencer. It’s an important read for marketers in any industry.”

                                                        ~ Mary N. Dillon, President and CEO, U.S. Cellular

A very pragmatic and balanced blend of consumer and brand insights coupled with the appropriate amount of data. It covers the spectrum of “Mom for all Ages.”

         ~ Jean-Marie Dolenc, General Manager, Hospital Pharmaceutical International Marketing, Abbott Labs


“As a marketing executive who is challenged with finding pragmatic actions in a highly competitive market, I value resources that provide deep, foundational insights. With Tuning into Mom, Michal Clements and Teri Lucie Thompson have delivered—pun intended—such a resource, a first-born winner. The book proves a unique hypothesis about children’s influence on moms’ buying behavior, and at the same time, reinforces to all marketers the importance of targeting mom, the household CFO and chief buyer.”

                                              ~ Pam El, Marketing Vice President, State Farm Insurance

“Whether you’re a marketer, at an agency, or simply interested in understanding the most powerful force in the marketplace, Tuning into Mom by Michal Clements and Teri Lucie Thompson give us a game-changing insight that will unlock the potential for brands and businesses for years to come. With fresh data and a savvy-smart approach, this book is a how-to manual for creating demand today. But more than that, Michal and Teri show us that when we understand mom, and create products and services that meet her specific needs, we’re not only making the world better for her, but for all those children and families she influences.”

                                                                   ~Dave Kissell, President and CEO, InStadium


“Rich insights, clever case studies, a fine blend of data and real customer stories . . . What more could a marketer want? Fresh ideas on marketing to moms based on the age of their children? Check! Tuning into Mom delivers all this and more. Kudos to first-time authors Michal Clements and Teri Lucie Thompson who really did their homework and have added to the slow-growing body of knowledge around marketing to moms. Studying and writing about gender-specific marketing for over twenty years, I gained new insights in reading this book. You will too!” 

               ~ Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women, PrimeTime Women, and Trends: Recognize, Analyze, Capitalize

“Tuning into Mom is a timely field guide for marketing-driven organizations looking to target mothers. The Theme Resource Guides provide laser focus to unique mom segments and their priorities relative to products, and the case studies beautifully illustrate how solid strategy and marketing creativity come together.”

                                                                     ~ Sarah Merz, CEO, FranklinCovey Products


“Tuning into Mom provides deep insight into the things that moms care about most for children of different ages, as well as for themselves. Moms are making or influencing decisions for their children well into adulthood. Marketers should leverage the practical framework in this book to position their products and services in the most relevant way to this powerful target audience.”

              ~ Karen R. Haefling, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, KeyCorp

“Brilliant. Methodical. Right on time. Tuning into Mom draws on a robust body of comprehensive research and a never-ending stream of marketing insights to provide an extraordinary view into the rich and diverse landscape of moms in America. Michal Clements and Teri Lucie Thompson profoundly illuminate the most effective ways for brands to reach moms with relevant solutions and authentic messaging. I highly recommend this path-breaking volume to any marketer that is committed to taking a genuine brand leadership position within this powerful segment.”

                                                ~ Eddie R. Navarrete, Marketing Director, T-Mobile USA


“One of the most important axioms in marketing is to ‘control the pathways.’ It is the marketers’ imperative to understand who influences one’s customers and make sure you are communicating to and targeting them as well. Tuning into Mom does an excellent job of explaining the roles mothers play in the decisions of their families. The book will not only allow the reader to understand this important market segment, but will also challenge the reader to better understand how they can win in the marketplace by “helping moms help their families.” I highly recommend this book for college courses as well! It is in the same league as classics like Why We Buy.”

                                       ~ Tom Hayes, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing, Xavier University

“Tuning into Mom provides fresh insight into the ongoing influence of moms on young adults. From my experience, I also know that many moms are interested in promoting wholesome eating for their children. For a casual dining chain, this spells opportunity. Tuning into Mom is a must-read for agencies and clients that are looking for fresh thinking and new ideas on how to capture the spending of mom, as well as her young adult child.”

                            ~ Mark Gilley, Vice President, Consumer Insights, Darden Restaurants


As a beauty writer and mother myself, I find the authors’ insights into marketing to moms in both the real and virtual worlds right on target. Their book, Tuning into Mom, offers great perspective on how and where mothers shop for beauty and fashion and how their buying habits, priorities, and sense of personal style shift as their children grow and they move through different stages of motherhood.”

         ~ Andrea Pomerantz Lustig, author of How to Look Expensive and contributing beauty editor of Glamour Magazine

“Marketing and brand building can only be successful with deep understanding of the target audience. Teri Lucie Thompson and Michal Clements have done a spectacular job of peeling back the layers of the critical target audience—moms—and providing the insights needed to effectively reach them. A must-read for any marketer with moms on their mind, Tuning into Mom is the engaging and enlightening book that will open your eyes to the mom possibilities for your brand.”

         ~ Donna Heckler, co-author of The Truth About Creating Brands People Love, Brand Strategy Lead, Ingersol-Rand

Product Details

Purdue University Press
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Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Michal Clements is a senior principal at the leading growth strategy consulting firm, The Cambridge Group, based in Chicago. She previously founded Insight to Action, a firm focused on building brands through insights that result in specific business-building actions. Teri Lucie Thompson is chief marketing officer and vice president for marketing and media at Purdue University. She previously served as vice president of marketing for Safeco, and held a number of marketing leadership roles at State Farm Insurance, where she spearheaded the company's efforts in marketing to women. Both women are founding board members of the Marketing to Moms Coalition and co-creators of the annual State of the American Mom survey.

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