Are Aunts the New Mom?

Although not mentioned in this iVillage article, which is a preview of next weeks’ coverage on NBC’s report about women’s buying power, I still remain hopeful that they plan to address one of the most overused stereotypes about women. Many male marketers assume that all women are moms. However, while all moms are women, not all women are moms. And there is no one more in tune to that than Melanie Notkin, CEO and founder of the very successful online pharmacy,

I met my friend Melanie on Twitter nearly a year ago and since then she’s been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, More Magazine, NBC, CBS and is a regular on FOX News Strategy Room.

I asked if she would enlighten my readers as a guest blogger and she kindly agreed. So, please read on as she provides incredibly valuable insight into an area where so many male marketers are  missing a huge opportunity.

Guest Blogger: Melanie Notkin, Savvyauntie.commelanie-notkin_founder-and-ceo_savvy-auntie

I’m not a mom. This fact seems inconsequential to most, until you look at many of my friends. They’re not moms either. And neither are their friends. In fact, nearly 50% of American women are not mothers.

So why are marketers so in love with Mom?

If you watch commercials for anything from laundry detergent to holiday gifting, it generally stars “mom.” Now it’s true that moms are part of the most influential segment of the economy – the segment that controls about 85% of household purchases. But non-moms do laundry too. And we also buy gifts. And we travel. We buy cars. We’re homeowners. In fact, we buy just about everything moms do, except for breast pumps. And mom jeans.

It’s not the moms who control and influence 85% of household purchases. It’s women as a whole. And in my household, I control 100% of the purchase decisions.

PANK is the new pink!
I’ve dubbed the other half of women who are not mothers, PANKs: Professional Aunts No Kids. We’re the consumers marketers should be focusing on because we have the time, money and influence they are looking for.

The 2006 US Census Report on Fertility reported that 45.1% of women through age 44 do not have kids. And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. It’s pretty remarkable. And when you take an even closer look at this segment, some other interesting data bubbles up.

Key PANK statistics:
The 2006 Census data states that even fewer women are having children than in 2004 – the date of the previous fertility report.  The data from a similar study done in 2004 stated that 44.6% of women did not have kids. This 2006 study reports that 45.1% did not have children, up 0.5% over those two years.

The big highlight of the report is shocking: “20 percent of women 40 to 44 were childless in 2006, twice as high as the level 30 years earlier.”

The Fertility Reports do not include data on women ‘post’ fertility who are less likely to ever have children – women 45 and over. That’s how we get to the “nearly 50%” number. In fact, it may be more.

Here’s the “women without children” Census data, broken down by age range:

  • 15 to 19 years 93.3%
  • 20 to 24 years 68.6%
  • 25 to 29 years 45.6%
  • 30 to 34 years 26.2%
  • 35 to 39 years 18.9%
  • 40 to 44 years 20.4%

Remove the teens from the equation, and 36% of women 20 – 44 don’t have kids. Again, this data does not include women 45+.  We are reluctant to exclude the teens because teens have huge spending clout and are very likely to indulge their little nieces and nephews, their little cousins, and their friends’ kids – and certainly themselves! And they are looking for ways to connect with the children in their lives, just like older women are. Just because they are less likely to have kids, doesn’t mean they are less likely to be loving aunts by relation, aunts by choice and godmothers to a child in their life.

Fewer women are having children. By choice. Not by choice. Some are childless. Some are childfree. Some are waiting. Some are undecided. Some are trying. Some are too young. Some feel too old. Some are too old. Some are gay and therefore we might assume less likely to have their own kids. Whatever the case, in the end, 45.1% of women 15-44, don’t have kids.

PANKs are Savvy Aunties.
In 2008, I responded by giving PANKs a community of our own:, the first online community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids.  Twenty-three minutes after launch, I received an email from the media buyers for Hasbro. Two hours later, Sephora contacted me. Then came Warner Brothers, Disney, Turner’s TNT Network, PBS Sprout,,, Scholastic and many more. After all, when it comes to products and services that enable Savvy Aunties to make their nieces and nephews happy as can be, aunts want to know about them. Plus, without kids of their own, aunts have more discretionary income and time than most moms. That’s why they are more likely to indulge themselves and the children in their lives.

Still, the overwhelming majority of marketing messages are focused on Mom and to Mom. It’s time marketers began focusing on PANKs. We’re powerful and we’re influential. And we’re growing year after year.

If only my mom were here to see it…

Thanks, Melanie. Well said!!

Melanie Notkin is a proud aunt and the Founder and CEO, She’s been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, More Magazine, NBC, CBS and is a regular on FOX News Strategy Room. She can be reached at


Melanie Notkin is a pround aunt and the Founder and CEO, She’s been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, More Magazine, NBC, CBS and is a regular on FOX News Strategy Room. She can be reached at

15 Responses to “Are Aunts the New Mom?”

  1. […] for P&G brands our focus is women with children much of the time. In the latest post from they remind us that not all women have kids. That’s good perspective even for a Digital Moms […]

  2. I’m an auntie and a fan of you both – keep the enlightenment coming!

  3. […] […]

  4. […] close with some info on Savvy Auntie (Melanie Notkin) and her post on She-conomy “Are Aunts the New Mom” which goes back to the Shriver report on women. Melanie likes to remind us that Aunties are […]

  5. […] close with some info on Savvy Auntie (Melanie Notkin) and her post on She-conomy "Are Aunts the New Mom" which goes back to the Shriver report on women. Melanie likes to remind us that Aunties are […]

  6. While it’s true that not all women choose to have kids, and I more than agree that marketers and media folks ridiculously over-emphasize the “mom” aspect of women’s lives, you still have to be careful not to overlook the “center of gravity” of the business opportunity in marketing to women.

    In the US, the average age of first marriage for women is 25.0 years old. Interestingly, women’s average age at first birth is 24.9! So it is definitely legit to say that women 15-25 are “pre-family;” in fact, most of them are single.

    Nonetheless, by 10 years later, when women are 35, 81% of them have kids under 18 living at home. So yes, there’s an opportunity with the approximately 20% of women who have chosen not to have kids (up from 10% in the 1980s, an increase I would hardly characterize as “shocking”). But don’t lose sight of the reality that 4 out of 5 women do have kids, because the presence of kids in the household is the number one determinant of where the money goes, in terms of product categories, brands and influence on the buying process.

    Savvy aunts and other singles may be spending some of their hard-earned cash indulging their nieces and nephews with the occasional toy, treat or toddler outfit, but I guarantee you their spending on the little darlings does not even remotely approach the buckets o’ cash their parents are spending.

    Single women and cute new company names may be the media darlings of the press looking for something fresh to report on, but marketers should not be misled into thinking this is where the money is.

    Marti Barletta
    Author, Marketing to Women; and PrimeTime Women

  7. To Marti Barletta–

    Technically, you may be correct, if expenditures encompass food, shelter, clothing, education and extracurricular expenses.

    But I’m the one who, for 10+ years, bought discretionary items for my niece and nephews–Furbies, Nintendo, first iPod, etc. I’m the one who took them to special trips to movies.

    I tune out ads targeted to moms. Not interested. Irrelevant. Annoying, to be honest. You’re ignoring a huge market if you ignore the single professionals like me.

  8. Im a Man..1st and foremost lets get that out of the way…

    I think marketers are focused on moms for a few reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that they have kids.

    1. Most married women (DINK or moms) want to have kids.
    – it’s in the brand’s best interest for mom’s to have brand loyalties in advance of children.
    – It is can serve as a double impression

    2. Single women are in charge of only 1 income… with limited disposable income generally going toward hi-indexing items.. ie Purses, jeans, drinks, etc.

    3. While the Aunt market is sizable it makes no sense to advertise to a market that has zero need for a product. I’ll admit that Aunts are a unique category but would confuse some consumers if a brand were to attempt a split their message. (As the old adage says.. “Communicate 2 things, you really communicate nothing.” )

    My 2 cents.

  9. wow my comment is brutal. Sorry for the typos my thoughts were going in two directions.. if it doesn’t make sense let me know I will fix it.

    Sorry again.

  10. First of all I am a Woman!
    Aunties are also married, so don”t forget us. We are highly educated, self-employed, financially savy,kind, caring and generous with our money and attention,my spouse and I have taken in and cared for 8 of the 13 neices and nephews. Zero need for a product, Don’t ever assume that one! You are the one who assumes everything, and will gain nothing in your pocket!

  11. My point is not that they are not a valuable market… my point is that they don’t represent a sizable market that isn’t getting reached by other advertisements. If I were a brand manager I would consider them a secondary market. Particularly Single Aunts that are actively involved with their kids.

    For the sake of argument bringing a child into the home automatically places someone into the parental role, even if it is for a short time.

  12. I wanted kids and never got to have any. My mother has passed away several years ago. So, I hide out on Mother’s Day because I am so sick of people wishing me a happy mother’s day! Why do they assume that I am a mom just because I am female? However, I am an aunt and love spoiling my nieces!!!

  13. What about Seriously Kinky Aunts No Kids?

    This is so not going to get past moderation

  14. […] may not yield the desired results. Why? Because they are not targeting the specific demographic. As quoted by the She-conomy blog “All moms are women, but not all women are […]

  15. […] Holland z Melanie Notkin o tym, że nie każda kobieta to matka, którą możecie przeczytać tutaj). Mimo tego, duża ilość kobiet dzieci posiada, dlatego zaszkodzi, jeśli swój biznes/swoją […]

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