Social Success

Posted March 16, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Marketing to Mom, Mom Bloggers, Mom Market Trends, Social Networks

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More people globally now use social networks/blogs than email – 66.8% vs. 65.1%, according to a study released last week by market research firm Nielsen. This means that two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, categories that now account for almost 10% of all Internet time. Social networks and blogs are now the fourth most popular online activity today, following, in descending order: search, general interest portals & communities and software applications. Email comes in fifth, and the use of social networks grew at double the rate of email usage — 5.4% vs. 2.7%.

 

More details from the report:

 

  • Time spent on social networks and blogs is growing at over 3 times the rate of overall Internet growth. 

·         The total amount of time spent online worldwide increased by 18% between December 2007 and December 2008

·         In the same period the amount of time spent on “Member Community” sites  (social networks and blogs) rose by 63%.

 

And to think that not that long ago, email was considered the second coming.

 

For more details, see Global Faces and Networked Places. 

 

 

 

 

Doddering Daddies

Posted March 12, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Social Trends

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Do older fathers mean dumber kids?

According to a study released Monday, children of older fathers scored lower than those of younger fathers on I.Q. tests and a range of other cognitive measures. These results support growing evidence suggesting significant downfalls to delaying fatherhood.

While this was the first study to demonstrate that children of older fathers do not perform well on cognitive tests at young ages (8 months, 4 years and 7 years old), other research has identified higher rates of schizophrenia and autism among the offspring of men in their mid-to-late 40s or older when they had children.

The new study, published in PLoS Medicine, reanalyzed data from the federally sponsored Collaborative Perinatal Project, which gathered information from 50,000-plus pregnant women from 1959-1965. Fathers in the study were ages 14 to 66, while mothers were 12 to 48. Regardless of their mothers’ age, children whose fathers were 50 years old had lower scores on all tests except those assessing physical coordination, compared to children whose fathers were age 20. The older the fathers, the more likely the children were to have lower scores.

Will the May-December romance now go the way of, say, Bernie Madoff’s investments? How ironic that, through the ages, it’s been women who have agonized over having children “too late” in life. The same study also showed that children of older mothers typically performed better on cognitive tests, suggesting they may benefit from “the more nurturing home environments associated with the generally higher income and education levels of older mothers.”

For more on the study, see the New York Times article, “Older Fathers Linked to Lower I.Q. Scores.”  

Meet the Parents

Posted March 9, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Mom Market Trends, Social Trends

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There seems to be a social network for everything these days, especially when it comes to moms. With Facebook, Twitter, Café Mom and more, online connections are just a keystroke away.  

 

What if parents want to move beyond cyberspace? Across the country there are local clubs and groups sprouting everywhere. Whether it’s to network, socialize or make new friends, these groups are providing a way to connect.

 

Raising a little one is hard enough and searching out the perfect group can be time consuming. We recently stumbled upon the web site www.monstersandmonkeys.com, which is essentially a match-making service that connects parents with other like-minded parents. Whether you are a mom-to-be looking to meet other soon-to-be moms or a current parent in search of some friendship, the site boasts that it will do all the research and fact-finding for you.

 

As the popularity of social media continues to grow, it’s also good to see real social circles expand as well. For the moms among our readers: Would you ever take advantage of a parental matchmaking service? Do you find it difficult to meet other moms in the real world?

Kids Today Conference

Posted February 27, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Marketing to Mom, Mom Bloggers, Mom Market Trends

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On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Kids Today conference in San Antonio, on how companies in the children’s home furnishings industry can – and should – work with mommy bloggers to market products. There was, happily, clear interest in the topic, meaning these manufacturers and retailers alike understand the influence bloggers have on the community of moms. Thank you to Kids Today magazine for the invitation and to members of the audience for your feedback.

 

Marketers, what have you learned in your dealings with mom bloggers – what experiences would you like to share?

 

Mom bloggers, what would you like marketers to know about the dos and don’ts of working with you most effectively?

Wonder Woman!

Posted February 19, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Marketing to Mom, Mom Market Trends

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Stephanie Azzarone (left) with Women In Toys president, Patti Becker

Stephanie Azzarone (left) with Women In Toys president, Patti Becker

 

Earlier this week, I was honored to be named the winner of the Wonder Women of Toys Award, in the Consultant category – and I’d like to share the good news along with a big thank you to all the judges. The awards are sponsored by Women in Toys, a professional networking organization for women working within the toy, entertainment and licensing industries. The award was presented at the organization’s 5th Annual Wonder Women of Toys Dinner this week at the Penn Club in New York City. I was delighted to be in the company of other women who are recognized leaders in their fields, including Sharon John, Hasbro (Manufacturer), Laura Phillips, Wal-Mart (Retailer), Leigh Anne Brodsky, Nick and Viacom Consumer Products (Licensor) and Carlin West, 4Kids Entertainment (Licensing Agent).

 

Child’s Play Communications, which specializes in publicity and marketing communications for products targeted to moms, has represented dozens of toy manufacturers and licensing and entertainment companies, including Hasbro, Gund, K’NEX, Spinmaster, Play Along, a division of JAKKS-Pacific, Elmer’s Products, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, National Geographic Kids Entertainment and Kidz Bop.

 

For more information, please visit: http://childsplaypr.com/news/news_details.cfm?ID=15

 

Designer Babies

Posted February 14, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Social Trends

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Is the era of the custom-made kid upon us?

 

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, a Los Angeles fertility clinic claims it is on the verge of enabling parents-to-be not only to select the sex of their child but also to choose traits such as eye color, hair color and complexion.

 

The capability, according to the clinic, is based on a procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. The procedure has been in place since the 1990s to allow parents to avoid passing on life-threatening diseases to their children. The process: A 3-day old embryo is tested for a particular genetic disease and only embryos without that disease are implanted in a mother’s womb. The same technique may now be able to screen embryos for other physical traits – i.e., for cosmetic characteristics rather than medical concerns.

 

A recent New York University School of Medicine survey of nearly 1,000 people who sought genetic counseling found that a majority supported prenatal genetic testing for the elimination of certain serious diseases.  However, about 10% said they would want genetic testing for athletic ability, another 10% for improved height, and nearly 13% for superior intelligence.

 

Aryan Nation, here we come. I can’t decide whether I’m watching the History Channel or the Sci-Fi network.

 

Is choosing a child’s physical characteristics unethical – or is it merely the natural next step in a land where beauty (and cosmetic surgery) rules?

Daddy Dearest

Posted February 9, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Marketing to Mom, Mom Market Trends, Social Trends

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Last week’s post talked about dads who don’t do their fair share of parenting. All that may change – may have to change — as more fathers find themselves at home because they’ve lost their jobs. With the January unemployment rate for men hitting 7.6%, couples not only have to deal with the psychological stress of a lay off, but may also have to reinvent the parenting paradigm.  A potential seismic shift awaits as a family’s tradition clashes with new needs and expectations.

Will men get as involved in parenting as mothers historically have, and, if so, how will dads feel about their new role — and how will moms react to giving up control? Are there certain components of parenting that dads will gladly adopt while ignoring others?  Will the family dynamic be altered forever? And, from a business perspective, will companies who have always targeted moms now include dads in their marketing?

What do you foresee happening as the employment crisis deepens?

Delinquent Dads

Posted February 2, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Social Trends

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So much for the revolution. When it comes to dads sharing the parenting role with moms, according to a new study, the man in the family is just not pulling his weight. The result: supremely ticked off mothers.

 

That’s the conclusion of a survey of 1,000 moms by Parenting magazine, with results appearing late last week on parenting.com.

According to the article, “We love our husbands — but we’re mad that we spend more mental energy on the details of parenting. We’re mad that having children has turned our lives upside down much more than theirs. We’re mad that these guys, who can manage businesses or keep track of thousands of pieces of sports trivia, can be clueless when it comes to what our kids are eating and what supplies they need for school. And more than anything else, we’re mad that they get more time to themselves than we do.”

Some specifics:

•46% of moms get irate with their husbands once a week or more. About half describe their anger as intense but passing; 1 in 10 say it’s “deep and long-lasting.”

•44% are annoyed that fathers often don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids.

•40% are peeved that their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids.

•40% are mad that Dad can’t multitask.

•33% say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility and are less concerned than moms are about their children’s basic needs, like nutrition and clothing.

•Nearly one third of moms complain that parenthood has changed their lives more than their husbands’.

•31% say their husbands don’t help with the chores — in fact, they generate more.

The more kids moms have, the more intense their negative feelings.

Moms responding to the survey express annoyance that dads repeatedly forget to do simple or essential tasks — like keeping an eye on the kids while mom cooks or remembering to put the children’s mittens on. They resent that dads don’t help get the kids off to school in the morning, or that they leave their own dirty dishes in the sink even though the dishwasher is empty. To many moms, dads seem incapable of multitasking, while moms regularly handle several different projects at once. Moms dislike constantly being the ones responsible for all the daily details of family life, from making sure to buy fresh vegetables for the kids to getting the car repaired.  And most of all, they hate that dad seems able to find time for himself. The lack of time off is a major issue, especially for  moms with the most anger. Over 60 percent of the moms who get mad weekly — and almost three-quarters of those who are angry every day — feel this way.

For more details on the study, visit www.parenting.com.

Bringing Up Baby (at Work)

Posted January 26, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Social Trends

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A recent New York Times article talked about a Manhattan mom who became pregnant while she was launching her own company, decided she would bring her baby to the office with her daily, and set up an on-premises playroom – exactly what I did 20 years ago when pregnant with my son, Evan. Reaction varied then as I’m sure it does now. To this day I remember one client – male – who came for a meeting and looked aghast upon learning that baby and babysitter alike were part of it (it was a small office). There were the many other clients who never knew their conference calls were being conducted while my little one was nursing. Evan came to work with me every day until he began to walk – and I realized he’d be better off running around the playground with other kids than shuttling from one desk to the next.

 

The Times article noted how more companies are allowing employees to bring their babies to work, and discussed the pros and cons. It pointed out that a child’s needs – and noise – could be highly distracting to his/her parent and other employees alike, and suggested that with baby underfoot it was impossible for parents to be completely devoted to either the child or the job. Experts suggest that companies that do allow parents to regularly bring children to the office establish specific written policies – e.g., the age or stage (crawling, walking) at which children are permitted in the space, and designated areas for changing diapers.

 

What do you think about a bring-your-baby-to-work policy – especially if you’re in the business of making baby/children’s products? What guidelines would be fair to both employer and employees – the parent and her co-workers alike?

 

Myth and the Mommy Blogger

Posted January 19, 2009 by Stephanie Azzarone, President, Child's Play Communications
Categories: Marketing to Mom, Mom Bloggers

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Mommy bloggers have become so celebrated that a multitude of myths are wafting up around them. On Friday, Jessica Smith posted a great piece called the Top 10 Misconceptions About Mommy Bloggers on Mashable. From my own experience both as a marketer and a blogger, I couldn’t resist commenting below on some of the misconceptions she addresses:

 

·         Mommy Bloggers just write to get free stuff

·         Mommy Bloggers are uneducated, lack creativity, and don’t take writing seriously

                                                                                                    

Some mommy bloggers do just write to get free stuff—and why not, especially in this economy? But in return, they’re putting a lot of time and energy into letting their readers know exactly what they think about those products. Others at this stage are probably getting, from their point of view, too much free stuff, and it’s clearly not the reason they’re blogging. Their goal is to offer support and advice to other moms, build a reputation for themselves as influencers, and, increasingly to develop that positive visibility into professional opportunities. At Child’s Play Communications, where we specialize in marketing to moms, we rely on mom bloggers for educated feedback on everything from new products to the effective use of social media for our clients. We know from our relationships with them that many mommy bloggers come from PR, marketing, advertising and other fields where creativity and writing skills are key.                 

                                                                                                                          

·         Blogging is considered a hobby by most Mommy Bloggers

Not any of the ones I’ve met – which would explain why we’re working with them on a regular basis. Hobby? Everyone I know seems to be running blogging empires or to be on their way to doing so.

 

·         Mommy Bloggers only write about baby-related topics of conversation

Some do – lots do. But they also write about politics, sex, fitness, illnesses, business and the state of the world. I’m a mom and I blog about social and marketing trends that affect moms. Does that make me a mommy blogger?

 

·         Mommy Bloggers make tons of cash

·         Mommy Bloggers don’t make any money at all

Exceptionally innovative, dedicated and marketing-savvy mommy bloggers become advisors for corporations, write books, serve as spokespeople, attract major advertising – and make tons of cash. Others make a little bit of cash. And still more aren’t in it for the bucks, will never make money from it anyway and don’t really care because that’s not why they’re blogging in the first place.

For the full list of Top 10 Myths about Mommy Bloggers, visit http://mashable.com/author/jessica-smith/.