This past weekend, a slow trickle turned into an all-out rush of Mother’s Day reminders and discounts making their way to my inboxes, a month ahead of the holiday, as celebrated in the US. Despite my annual clean up, in an effort to free myself of these offerings and professional assumptions that capitalize on this day, I am always surprised at how inundated I am with these messages. Messages I did not request, which presume my consent.
While much focus in the past years has remained on inclusive marketing, which is a core focus of our work at the Institute, we have an equal prioritization for consent-driven marketing™. This approach to marketing differs from consent-based marketing, which addresses the legalities and formal opt-in permissions of marketing practices.
Consent-driven marketing™ requires the marketer to create meaningful opt-in or opt-out options based on the specific needs of an individual or demographic. For example, I may consent to opt-in to email marketing from a favorite retailer. However, this does not mean I want to receive every marketing campaign they have throughout the year, or for every service or product they offer. Giving consent in one domain, or target area does not presume consent in another. However, this is what marketers rely on.
The marketing approach to commercialized holidays in particular, brings about massive sweeps of consumers, aiming to maximize the percentage of buyers for any given product or service. Isn’t it time for advertisers to care about what matters most to their consumers, and to reflect individuals and families without children in a more intentional and impactful way? We do not all have children. We do not all celebrate the same holidays. And if we do want to give marketing consent in these areas, we should be free to do so, or not.
Large retailers tend to approach marketing much like a chiropractor who adjusts your entire body, assuming or hoping that the problem area(s) issues will resolve or become aligned. However, the kind of chiropractor I have found to be effective, identifies and isolates the areas which need attention, and addresses them directly. This is also the type of marketing I want to experience, as someone without children.
In the US, more than 71% of adults are living without children in their households. (US Census Bureau) Direct marketing rarely reflects this. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 4 men live permanently without children, in the US alone. (US Census Bureau) These numbers do not even include the percentage of those who are living without children at any given time, nor are they gender inclusive reflecting only a binary count.
From solo practitioners to larger retailers, there is an underlying assumption of or desire to project credibility when an image of a practitioner with a child or their family is used, or families with children are the center of the majority of marketing campaigns, regardless of the intended consumer. Beneath this pronatalist prioritization is often an exclusion or devaluing of those without children, no matter how subtle or overt.
Our diverse community needs to be visibly and appropriately represented through inclusive marketing, while also being considered in terms of what we consent to and not. Should we have to choose not to connect with or follow our favorite practitioners, institutions or retailers because they assume we all have children and mothers who are alive, or accessible, healed relationships with our mothers, or that we are not impacted by this type of marketing when it potentially reignites our grief, on Mother’s Day, as just one example?
It is the rare practitioner, organization or business that creates meaningful options for their consumers without children, and has the awareness of their impact, to do so. While some businesses and organizations in Europe have started to create these options around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and they are to be applauded, we need to see this in practice across the board as an integral way of marketing, and not only on this particular holiday.
Social media spaces that rely on advertising, and do not provide a direct opt-out to marketing focused on babies, families with children, parents and grandparents and related holidays and status-quo milestones, do not present an inclusive or consent-driven™ approach to marketing for our community. Medical offices, facilities, educational institutions and employment environments also most often participate in status quo advertising and internal practices, which exclude a large portion of their consumers and employees.
NLI advocates for inclusive and consent-driven marketing™ for our community, and exists to support practitioners, businesses and organizations committed to taking conscious action for meaningful impact, in the places we live, participate and work. If you or your organization would like additional information or to schedule a consult, please email or call us today.