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Brandweek has an interesting story about a new demographic group christened “MyTHs” – Mommies with Traveling Husbands.

Because of pressures created by demanding jobs, Brandweek writes, “a growing number of moms are stepping in to cover for displaced dads, whether business consultants only home on weekends, contract workers on location for six months or military mates serving overseas.” And while this ratchets up the demands on these mothers, “they accept their role for a variety of reasons, such as wanting to support a husband's career aspirations, maintaining a higher standard of living or remaining home with their children.”

This isn’t just a demographic group created by some statistical analyst with nothing else to do. It is, in fact, a group that changes its buying habits during the time that its members are functioning as de facto single parents. “The difference is that this new generation of empowered, educated and often income-earning moms is more maverick than martyr,” Brandweek writes. “MyTHs, left alone with the kids for several days a week, a month or even a year while husbands pursue careers, will mind the home front but they expect help. And they are ready to pay for it.”

This means offering more pickup and delivery options, and sometimes even at off hours, since it sometimes can be nine or ten o’clock at night when they realize there’s no milk in the refrigerator. And, it means that savvy retailers can cement their relationship with these moms by providing a portal to other services that might ordinarily be handled by a spouse, like snow shoveling or basic chores that moms are perfectly capable of doing, but just don’t want to or don’t have time to do.

Brandweek writes: “Seduce them with options: A Girls' Night Out at the local mall; discounted movie nights; a reading group at the book store; a private group cooking class at a kitchen store; a free yoga lesson to entice them into more. Jubilant over their freedom, MyTHs are likely to spend on themselves, their lonely spouse-on-the-road or their delightful children at home.

“As workplace options grow more diverse, the number of MyTHs will surely grow. They will continue to search for ways to keep life in balance while their traveling counterparts juggle their own challenges in distant cities or countries. Marketers recognizing this potentially profitable niche will create dedicated users that remain brand loyal even when dad returns home and MyTHs become just plain ole' mom again.”
KC's View:
Well, we learn something every day.

The thing is, this is a trend that we are intimately familiar with, since we spend about 25-30 percent of the year on the road, giving presentations, attending conferences, looking at stores and producing videos. And while Mrs. Content Guy appreciates the revenue, she also has to deal with the fact that this means she’s for all practical purposes a single mother for maybe 100 days a year.

During our most recent business trip, you should have heard the long phone calls when the at-home wireless Internet service went down, and she had to spend hours on the phone with the cable company and Apple Computer to figure out what went wrong. “Welcome to my life,” was our response…and in retrospect, that probably was the wrong thing to say. (Utter phrases like that, and suddenly absence doesn’t make the heart grow finder…)

It certainly seems like a trend worth paying attention to, and that retailers ought to be doing their level best to figure out if they have a lot of these kinds of shoppers and how they might serve them better. It means drilling down further than they are used to, it means asking different questions that they ordinarily would, and it means being willing to do something with the responses if it suddenly appears that there is a heretofore unrecognized opportunity.