Buyer Demographics: Marketing, Media and Working Women

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 Brace yourself as I go out on a limb...

Typically, it's the female portion of a household that does most of the legwork and the first round of decision-making when a new home is sought. The woman usually does the initial calling, makes first contact with agents, scours the home magazines, and gathers information about the schools, neighborhoods and the community. Many women "vet" the options and take a pre-qualified list of agents, homes, locations, etc to their masculine counterpart before the "cooperative decision-making" even begins. And, when a relocation is required, usually the woman juggles the lion's share of the domestic details and the "settling in" portion of the move, especially when children are involved.

Forgive the broad, sweeping generalizations... but men tend to be a bit more content with the house they currently inhabit. They tend to be a bit less "uptight" when there are major changes and, lets face it, most men make fewer lists than the women in their lives. I'm not saying that the way women handle these situations is necessarily a good thing (personally, I think it's a curse), and I'm not saying it's true in all couple dynamics. 

Now, before you throw things at me and call me sexist... think about the people you know. Think about the clients you have and have had. And let me share a bit of information about working mothers and their media habits.

Yep, as you probably suspected, this is about marketing after all :) 

I received a report this morning from The Media Audit that revealed some interesting trends in the media use by working mothers. I believe the findings of this report are of interest to real estate agents because most (but not all) real estate agents are dealing with two-income households (with children) and those households tend to buy larger houses in more expensive neighborhoods than their single or no-children or single-income family counterparts.

According to the report:

  • 28% of households in the 87 metro markets surveyed have two incomes, but over 60% of the households with working mothers have two incomes.
  • Nearly 20% of families with working mothers have incomes of $100K+, compared to less than 17% among a collection of all households 
  • Approximately 75% of working women are between the ages of 25 and 49, contrasted with under 50% of the same age bracket in the total adult population in the markets surveyed.

Having children in the home impacts all financial decisions, especially large purchases like homes. And, working women are most attentive to and most often exposed to the following media types (where an index of 100 is the market average):

  • Direct Mail (with an index of 122 -- only two points lower than it was five years ago)
  • Radio (with an index of 113 -- only one point lower than it was five years ago)
  • Internet (with an index of 111 -- 14 points higher than five years ago) 

Women have the lowest indexes for television (index of 81) and newspapers (index of 60).

So, if the "working mothers" demographic is one you want to attract, you may want to reconsider your venue rather than just revamping your message. To me, this all makes sense... working mothers don't have time to sit down and read the paper and we seldom have time to watch television. Radio is something we do while accomplishing other tasks (to and from work, while running errands and even while working) and the increase in Internet exposure is easily explained by the increased use for work (which leads to a dependence on this media mode for information gathering in general and may lead to distraction down other paths like shopping, house hunting, even while engaged in work-related activities).

The big surprise for me? The popularity of direct mail. (I sort my mail over the garbage can at the post office.) For me, it has to be pretty impressive to ever make it out of the lobby and into my car.

In this study, heavy exposure for direct mail is defined as anyone who reads 75% or more of the direct mail they receive. So, while you are building your online campaigns, placing newspaper ads, launching radio spots and contemplating TV commercials ... don't forget the importance of old-fashioned snail-mail. Internet use is out-pacing the other modes, but it's still lagging behind the steadfast standard -- print and a stamp.

Demographics, statistics and media buys aside, there is another reason to appeal to the working mothers in your market -- a reason that children have understood for years -- "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." If you capture her attention and secure her trust on a major decision like buying a home, the rest of the family will probably follow.


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Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ
It's all about your business model.  What's the response and therefore ROI on direct mail.  What's the response on web?  I prefer to focus on the web.  Will we miss a deal or two.  Probably.  Will we avoid the labor and $ intensive direct mail.  Absolutely.
Nov 29, 2006 04:15 AM #1
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate
I would have never thought that direct mail would be so instrumental.  We have used it in the past, but not as regularly as we should have.  Makes me think that we should re-evaluate this medium.  Thanks for the insight!
Nov 29, 2006 04:33 AM #2
Gina Dougherty
Fusion Design Consulting - Redondo Beach, CA
Home Staging Redondo Beach, CA-

Your comments about the family decision-making process reminds me of a line in a movie about how the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck that turns the head in the direction it wants. 

I also open my mail over the trash, but if I am looking/shopping/interested in something in particular I will pay more attention to what is in the mail and look out for such related items. 

I send targeted direct mail advertising that is brightly packaged and hand written as part of my marketing strategy.  I see this as a more active approach to reaching potential clients and introducing them to my website.  For me so far, the internet has been a more passive entity providing information and "waiting for them to come".  I really believe in it and am always working to improve this though!

Nov 29, 2006 05:04 AM #3
Derek and Mariana Wagner
Springs Top Agents- Keller Williams Premier Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
Springs Top Agents - Colorado Springs REALTORS®
...and the internet is so much cheaper than print ads! I use some print marketing, but more for the benefit of the seller- not because of the results.
Nov 29, 2006 10:06 AM #4
Netta Blackwood
La Rosa Realty - Kissimmee, FL
REO/BPO Expert
True, when it comes to home purchases, I've noticed that the female are the driving force in the decision making.  Naturally, I've often try to include both parties whenever I'm doing mailings.
Nov 29, 2006 11:45 AM #5
Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station - College Station, TX
College Station, Texas Real Estate
One of the best marketing pieces I've seen in a long time came to me snail mail.  It was hand addressed to me, not resident, and had a real stamp on it.  It was an ad for a personal trainer with a handwritten offer on the ad to get a free session.  I'm scheduled for next week!
Nov 30, 2006 02:34 AM #6
Carolyn Wilson
Stirling Sotheby's International Realty - Lake Mary, FL

Great article, Angela!

Apr 29, 2009 12:19 AM #7
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Angela Allen

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