Selling to the Home Front
The typical image of today’s woman often revolves around a go-getter trying to balance career and home, or a professional climbing the corporate ladder. However, there are as many as 5.6 million women in the United States who have opted to make the home, and homemaking, their priority, according to Diane Sparks, president of Weaverville, N.C.-based list management and direct marketing database company The DM Shop, which manages the Domestic Diva list. Events such as Sept. 11 and the growing focus on the domestic arts, which gained prominence and popularity with the rise of people like Martha Stewart, also have made many Americans take stock of their values and devote greater focus on improving the quality of their family life and making their house a home.
Today’s homemakers, however, are not your typical housewives, circa 1950. These are on-the-go, savvy women, in charge of their family’s well-being, home upkeep and finances—they are, in fact, the leaders of their “home corporation,” notes Sparks.
… And the Kitchen Sink
As home front CEOs, homemakers are responsible for fulfilling myriad home and family needs. They are, therefore, open to diverse offers—everything from landscaping to dentistry to coupons for pizza. Many homemakers also are stay-at-home moms with young children, and are in need of child-related products, whether it’s baby products, education-related information (including home schooling), toys, clothes or furnishings. Homemakers with older children also are interested in college-related materials, notes Michael Flapan of Data Dialog Data Management, a New York-based company that compiles lists of stay-at-home moms.
Today’s homemaker also is health conscious. She’s interested in fitness (current trends favor Pilates and yoga), organic food and the latest medical health information. With child obesity on the rise, many of these stay-at-home moms are on the lookout for information on how to raise a healthier child and make better nutritional choices for the entire family. “This organic thing has really taken off,” says Sparks. “It’s really mainstream when you have [organic products] at your major supermarket chain.”
Homemakers also are interested in ways to make their homes attractive and comfortable, as well as organize their lives. The popularity of a publication such as Real Simple speaks to the growing interest in organizing and simplifying home life, while magazines such as Martha Stewart Living reflect today’s focus on homemaking with style. Likewise, direct marketing segments such as cooking, gardening, arts and crafts, and decorating certainly apply to this group. “They’re busy [and] looking for convenience,” says Sparks. “They’re also looking for that handicraft, homemade, handmade, homegrown kind of approach.” And as focus grows on capturing family experiences, “there’s certainly been some interest in scrapbooking,” she adds.
This market also is open to fundraising efforts. “We see a slight upward trend in donors, specifically political and religious donors, as well as purchases being made in the health area,” says Iris Caralla, vice president of sales for Safety Harbor, Fla.-based list management company, The List Experts.
Getting all these offers into the hands of homemakers can be done in a number of ways. They are receptive to everything from TV advertising to print to Internet-based efforts to direct mail, according to Sparks. The more affluent households are more likely to respond to e-mail marketing and Internet offers, she adds.
However, direct mail is an excellent way to reach the mainstream, middle-class homemaker. “[It] allows these busy consumers the ability to sit down to review their mail, catalogs and magazines when it’s convenient for them,” says Caralla.
Making a Connection
However you reach them, the focus should be on value and convenience. Caralla points to discounts, sales and free shipping for online ordering as effective techniques to grab the homemaker’s attention. Striking visuals also help. “Bed, Bath & Beyond [postcards], those work fantastically,” notes Flapan. “One of the reasons it works so well, is people don’t lose it in the shuffle, because it’s so big.”
But visuals aren’t everything. When crafting creative for the homemaker market, include images these consumers can relate to. “Use real customers in your ads; brag about local ingredients and materials; be environmentally and socially responsible,” directs Sparks. And when it comes to timing your efforts, she suggests marketing to important trigger events such as buying a new home, birth of a child, marriage and retirement.