by Abby Carlen
I’ve never missed a baby shower or a first birthday party. I don’t shy away from burping a newborn. Rather than cringing at the sound of my nephew’s screech, I appreciate his verve. I also appreciate being home alone.
Today, being kidless has less of a stigma than it did years ago. More women are choosing — and boldly defending their decision — to delay or forgo having kids. According to the Center for Work-Life Policy, 43% of 33- to 46-year-old women have decided to put off having kids or have none at all (September 2011). The MacArthur Research Network states that only half of US consumers recognize marriage and childbearing as required milestones of adulthood (7 March 2011). This emerging lifestyle — whether brought on by the economy, strong career ambitions or other reasons — should not be overlooked.
No maternal instinct? For many, aunthood is serving as a woman’s most nurturing relationship. Whether she goes by PANK: Professional Aunt No Kids, favorite auntie or crazy auntie, she has a unique and often nonconventional perspective to offer the pint-size people in her life — not to mention money to spend. Census data analysis by Reach Advisors found that childless women age 22-30 had bigger paychecks than their male counterparts in 47 of the 50 largest US cities.
What does this mean for marketers?
Not everybody finds talking about strollers fascinating, but that doesn’t mean the non-mommies are backing out of the conversation. Just like parenthood requires dedication, so does being an aunt. With kid-freedom on the up and up, marketers must adapt, push aside the fluff, and find a timely and authentic tone to connect with the host of aunties who may have a little more time on their hands to discover new passions and brands. And by acknowledging the ways that family extends beyond the nucleus, marketers can appeal to the special place that aunts have in kids’ and parents’ lives.
Parenting comes in all shapes and sizes. Until she (possibly) puts a sling on it, find a way to make her feel important.