More mothers are older, reflecting a counter-trend among older women of rising fertility rates, which invalidates the old, comfortable assumption that marketing to mothers is about appealing to younger women.

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More mothers are older, reflecting a counter-trend among older women of rising fertility rates, which invalidates the old, comfortable assumption that marketing to mothers is about appealing to younger women.

The average age of first marriage is rising worldwide.  This is a long-term trend that has finally reached a tipping point.  Increasingly, women are living their teens and twenties as singles, with marriage coming in their thirties.

One consequence of later marriage is older mothers.  Fertility rates are in decline overall, especially among younger women.  But abetted by improved medical care and changing social mores, fertility rates among women over 35, and especially women over 40, are going in the opposite direction. 

Older moms are the growing part of the marketplace.  Younger moms are not.

Older women are increasingly likely to be first-time mothers, not just moms-again at older ages.

The good news is that better medical care means that both older moms and their children are healthier than in the past.  In fact, children benefit from the financial security and lifestage maturity of older mothers.

The bad news is that older moms don’t have the same physical reserve of energy and stamina as younger moms.  Simply put, they are more tuckered out.  Children for older women are a bigger drain on their vigor and fortitude.  Older moms report they are just tired.

Younger moms are more likely to suffer from so-called parental exhaustion, which is a newly recognized medical condition.  But this illness is more than just fatigue, which is the bigger challenge for older moms.

Tired moms require a different kind of marketing and retailing.  Older moms simply have less capacity and patience for the sorts of high-involvement brand engagement that has traditionally been used for younger moms.

Moreover, older moms have unique needs that get overlooked by the stereotype of moms as only younger women.


How It Matters

  • In what ways are older mothers connecting to the marketplace? How are these venues and styles different than younger moms?
  • How different are the needs of older moms from younger moms? Are these needs being fully addressed in the current marketplace of offerings?
  • Are older mothers better conceptualized as target consumers by their greater wealth than by their greater age?
  • Does the disproportionate wealth and income of older moms make them the dominant segment of mothers? And if so, how does this affect or change marketing and retailing to other moms?
  • What assumptions about the marketplace are brought into question by the aging of mothers?
  • Which current retail and marketing practices should be updated for older moms with less energy, more sophistication, greater wealth, and more competing commitments than younger mothers?
  • What are the upper time limits that cap the ability of older moms to engage with brands and retailers?
  • Are older moms a preferred leading-edge target for delivery services? For concierge services? For automated ordering?  For pick-up services?  For AI-driven services?
  • How do work and career considerations come into play for older moms? Are they disproportionately greater than the same issues for younger moms?
  • What is the nature of household structure and division of responsibilities for older mothers?
  • What is the range of sleep solutions that would appeal to older moms? Do such potential sleep solutions include food? Clothing?  Fitness?  Nutrition?  Recreation?  Vacations?  Home care?  Home security?  Smart homes?  Residential homebuilding?  What categories are not affected at all?
  • How will marketing of children’s product vary for older moms? What kinds of influence will their children play in the decision journey compared to children of younger moms?

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Dig Deeper:

  • Older mothers tend to be more financially secure, and more affluent.  And there are other advantages associated with being an older mom, including many for the children.
  • Prior research showing that children of older mothers fared poorly in terms of cognitive development was flawed.
  • The life realities and demands of late 30s/early 40s create added stress for older moms.
  • Five older moms in Canada describe their experiences, mostly good but feeling tired, too.
  • Older moms describe feeling overwhelmed and drained that comes with the joys of motherhood.
  • One of the reasons new moms feel so tired is interrupted or “fragmented” sleep.
  • Exhaustion due to sleep deprivation is a costly and widespread issue among new parents.
  • The March of Dimes maintains a web page with advice about the issue of ”new mom fatigue.”
  • “Parental burnout,” or exhausted mothers, is getting more attention from medical researchers.  However, this is a more multi-faceted condition than mere fatigue, and initial research among French mothers finds that this serious illness is more common among younger first-time moms.
  • Parenting experts advise that moms would feel less exhausted if they focused more on self-care.
  • Late parenthood is complicated by inadequate options for childcare and reluctant work policies regarding leave.

More to Know

NOTE: There is a global trend of women getting married at later ages.  This is true across every market.  The contrast just a generation ago is profound.  The world is moving to women starting households and families at older ages.

% women married or in union by age (Worldwide)

NOTE: The age at which women have their first child has gone up dramatically in the past 20 years. This is a very fast demographic shift. The trend is to first child in late twenties/early thirties. Extrapolated forward, many markets will see the mean age of first child well over 30.

Chart SF2.3.B. Mean age of women at first birth, 1995 and 2017 or latest available

Notes: For 2017, data for Canada refer to 2016.
a. Data for the United Kingdom refer to England & Wales only. For the years 1995, data are based on a mixture of register information and survey-based estimation. For the latest year, data are based on register information only.
b. see note a. in chart SF2.3.A
c. see note b. in chart SF2.3.A
d. see note c. in chart SF2.3.A

NOTE: Fertility rates in the U.S. show a profound shift.  Women 30-34 now have more babies than women 25-29 — for the first time ever!  Fertility rates for women under 30 are declining.  Fertility rates for women 30+ are rising.

Fertility Rates (Births per 1,000 Women, U.S.)

NOTE: Absolute number of births in the U.K. shows a similar trend of dramatic decline for women under 25, paralleled by a steady increase for women 25+.