Here is a big lesson for all ad agencies, magazine publishers, media and marketers. Wait for it…..

NEWSFLASH: Just because you are marketing to women, doesn’t mean they are mums or want to mums! WTF! Yes, I said it and it’s about time you listened.

Here are a few facts for you to consider:

Close to 1 in 4 in OECD countries are choosing not to have children. Australia has the second-highest rate of people not having children and childfree households are set to overtake households with kids in this decade. This is a trend we are seeing worldwide.

In Australia, Germany, Italy, and the US the rate of childlessness among women in their late forties has doubled over the past three decades.  In the UK 1 in 5 women aren’t having kids and this applies to 31% of women in NZ

Yet despite the trend and the marketers and advertising agencies still continue to ignore this massively untapped market to their own detriment. One big offender is magazines. You just have to look at the number of magazine covers that have pregnant women on them. The magazines promote pregnancy as being the holy grail which is simply not true for many women.  Maybe there is a correlation here on why the magazine sales are dropping?

And as a side note, there is a growing number of men not wanting to have kids either!

When you stick a pregnant woman on the cover, you are alienating a growing audience of readers who are disgusted or simply cannot relate to the image you are portraying.


Childfree happily ever after


Women are the key decision-makers. According to Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women, women are the primary decision-makers for consumer goods in 85% of households. They make 75% of decisions about buying new homes and make 81% of the decisions about groceries. They influence at least 80% of all household spending.

But here’s the thing, I might be a decision-maker but I ain’t no damn housewife or mother!!!

Childfree women typically have more disposable income to spend and they spend big. To all the ad agencies directing the marketing dollars, you might want to remember that the childfree market is big and it’s growing and you are probably missing out on our money.

And why it is that household products are always marketed to mums with toddlers or babies? Firstly, everyone makes a mess, not just babies and secondly people who don’t have children also clean their house. It is not the exclusive domain of parents only to have a clean house.

It makes me want to vomit when I see ad after ad on TV or in magazines that have the same old tired image – mum and baby doing the housework. Haven’t we moved out of the 1950s yet? Who is in charge of creating this outdated crap??

It is like saying all men love sports or car racing. It is ridiculous! So why do these outdated notions about womanhood still appear so prevalently in our society?

I’d like to ask if these decision-makers have also considered the millennial market. This generation is even more concerned about our environment, overpopulation and how that impacts the world we live in. Their priorities are different from their parents and these outdated marketing campaigns are just pushing products further from their intended audience.

How do we change it?

Get vocal about – Write to brands when you find the ad offensive, explain to them they are alienating a big part of their audience, and encourage them to move with the times.

Talk with your wallet – refuse to buy products that are marketed in this way. There are usually lots of choices. And share this with the companies marketing their products in this way. The more sales they lose, the more they are likely to listen.

Complain to media – when media is running story after story about motherhood, pregnancy, and parenting, make it known that you are not impressed. Again be vocal about it.

Industry insiders – if you work in the industries that are perpetuating these stereotypes stand up and share the other side of these views. Help the people making these decisions understand that times have changed and their marketing needs to as well.


Media monitors – if you are a journalist, encourage and write more childfree stories. If you see childfree stories in the media, celebrate them, share them and write positive comments. Articles that are popular get priority and page space.

Be a Social advocate – if you don’t like the messaging from these companies tell them so via their social media channels. Leave comments and ask them to consider making changes to market to non-parents too.

We all have a voice and we if aren’t afraid to use it, we can impact positive change. It takes a small amount of effort and some action from all of us. One voice might not be heard but millions of them together will be.

Now I am not saying that mothers and parents shouldn’t have a portal and places to share their issues. I am simply saying that not all women or even parents want to be marketed to in these traditional ways. It is time for traditional pronatalist marketing to take a back seat. Better yet, it is time for it to be relegated to the archives where it belongs.


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