Aiming to be part of that dialogue, major brands are doing more than placing ads on mommy blogger sites or getting moms to blog about specific products — strategies many marketers say are already becoming passé. As Page puts it, today’s companies should “join the conversation, not interrupt it.” That philosophy informs Huggies’ “mom-inspired grant program,” which awards $15,000 to moms to help turn homegrown parenting ideas into innovative products. It also explains why gDiapers has 36,000 active Facebook fans and 500 parent posts a day on topics such as home births and breastfeeding. “Even though it’s a diaper brand, what’s bringing people to our site is that we’ve created a community of people who share similar values,” says president Kim Graham-Nye.
Mom-oriented companies are now building and targeting communities offline as well. Thus gDiapers hosts regular “gTeas,” and Schotland spreads the word about Plum District as co-president elect of her school’s PTA. Cynics might claim that such mom-specific community-building, along with a focus on “power moms” and the “mom market,” is simply another way to co-opt contemporary motherhood.
A hallowed political symbol, mothers have always been supported more in theory than in practice; their actual work, be it housework, childcare or business, is often dismissed or devalued. But the increase in women- and mom-owned businesses, and the values such companies embody, suggests the scales are beginning to tip in favor of maternal empowerment. Today’s flexible, networked, product-recommendation driven entrepreneurial culture is also about as close as it gets to a multi-tasking, advice-giving, and community-building mompreneur. Mothers are natural innovators, says Maria Bailey of BSM Media, noting “mompreneurship tracks closely when mom has a baby. Suddenly she has all this new need for products, and starts to see that the product she needs she can’t find.”
In the past, business has been slow to recognize and nurture that potential. Not today, when signs point to a society making way for the new, 21st century mother of invention.