The Invisible Women: How Marketers Are Missing Out on an Increasingly Powerful Mother


The Invisible Women: How Marketers Are Missing Out on an Increasingly Powerful Mother

Women over 50 who are working, balancing the needs of dependent older children and the increasing health needs of their aging parents, feel overlooked by the Australian media.  They feel as though they are the ‘Invisible Women’, our Marketing to Mums research has revealed.

Despite often controlling the finances of three generations – their children, their parents, and themselves, these women say they are rarely seen in advertising let alone catered for with services and products they may want.  Marketers are clearly missing out on a growing segment which holds great influence over spending. I want to share with you the plight of the Invisible Women and highlight opportunities to grow your business by better catering to them.

In April and May this year I undertook the Marketing to Mums Survey where more than 1,800 Australian mums shared their views on how they want to be marketed to.  One of the discoveries was the emergence of a powerful new niche segment of mothers in Australia, who felt misrepresented by Australian media and advertising.  I call them, ‘The Invisible Women’.

I have 4 children. The youngest is now 14. There are many assumptions made about mothers with younger children being time poor and yes that was a challenge but the demands on your time as a mother with teenagers is extreme and I feel is misrepresented, coupled with the fact that I also have ageing parents to look after and a business, I don’t feel us older mothers are well represented in the media nor are the demands on our time really understood.”

Older Australian mums are calling for businesses to represent them in their advertising. They want advertisers to open their eyes and take the time to get to know them and truly understand their challenges. They want advertisers to better cater for their needs.  As Australia faces a growing aging population and kids are living at home longer, this consumer segment will grow significantly in coming years.  Their economic buying power should not be ignored.

This view was echoed by Liz O’Donnell at the M2Mom conference in New York in October 2016 who shared her own personal journey in her presentation, Life in the sandwich – the new care economy. Liz is an author, speaker and founder of, which supports women balancing caring for an aging parent with a career.

She voiced that of the 44 million family caregivers in America, 60% were women, often mothers, as society still expected that daughters do the work.  She noted that they were now seeing the rise of the care economy with the aging baby boomers, with women in their late 40s and 50s increasingly dropping out of the workforce and dealing with illnesses, loss and grief.  She felt that marketers need to understand the following things about this growing consumer segment:

1. Women are influencing technical innovation

O’Donnell spoke about the growing need for technical products which assisted her communicate with her parents and her children and schedule appointments and reminders when a parent required their medication and/or needed to attend a medical appointment.

2. These women are purchasing reliable services

Many of the baby boomers are wanting to stay at home as it becomes increasingly difficult to secure nursing facilities. O’Donnell spoke of the lack of services such as non-textured nutritional sound meals for her parents.

3. They need on demand services

O’Donnell suggests these services might include an Uber style service specifically for getting kids to and from their after school activities and weekend sport commitments to assist lighten mum’s load.  She also spoke of services which accommodated wheelchair or immobile parents to transport to medical appointments when the carer was unable to make it.

4. These women need support and TLC

More than anything, O’Donnell pointed to the lack of support for mother’s experiencing the pressure of aging parents whilst juggling their own children and their career.  She spoke of the isolation, the grief and loss many of them experienced.  O’Donnell herself an author, speaker and PR executive, started a new business, to assist facilitate the self-care she felt was so absent in her own experience.

5. These women are purchasing for three generations

Perhaps the most important finding here is the economic power of these mums.  They are the key influencers in all decisions across three generations.  Are you targeting her in your marketing efforts?

The message is clear.  Let’s ensure The Invisible Women are seen.  Be the first to cater to this market, show them in advertising, create products to assist and support them and be first to reap the financial rewards.

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  • Bronwyn

    I concur Katrina! I recently had my own Invisible Older Woman moment, and was driven to write a Smallville post about the experience.

    Interestingly, one of the comments on my post mentioned “marketing to nans”, which, to me, missed the point. The 50+ year olds that I was talking about are not defined by their status as a nan or even a mum. When I’m spending my hard-earned money, I want to be recognised for myself, not the other people in my life. Some of us aren’t even actually mums.

    Thank you for carrying out research on this important topic Katrina. I love your reference to the fact that we are often controlling the finances of 3 generations. Maybe if we keep drawing attention to this incredibly profitable niche, we may make some headway!

  • Katrina

    I loved your article Bronwyn. Women over 50 years are really starting to get vocal on this issue. I hope their loud voices are heard.

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