2017 gave us great things – Cardi B songs, the Dancing Hot Dog filter, a feverishly Instagrammed solar eclipse. But 2018 abounds with…babies. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, became the second ever female head of government (after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990) to carry a child while in office. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West helped bring the internet’s most awaited infant into the world and gave her a bizarre, meme-spurring name. We also are blessed with Beyoncé’s twins, Khloé Kardashian’s mommy-to-be milestones, a potentially expectant Kylie Jenner and a dozen other female influencers on the brink of motherhood.
These high-profile pregnancies are now announced almost exclusively by celebrities and influencers via social media. One such Instagram post by fashion and beauty influencer Chiara Ferragni got more than a million likes and 30,000 comments, versus the 200,000 likes and 1,000-odd comments that she averages on other content. Khloé Kardashian, who’s used to breezing past a million likes and 10,000 comments on her “standard” Instagram posts, was rewarded with nearly 9 million likes and a whopping 440,000 comments when she revealed that she was pregnant. Both women experienced a 2000% increase in engagement.
This bump in social media engagement signals a shift away from traditional mommy bloggers toward a new kind of influencer. It could be someone like Sai De Silva, whose side-hobby of running a blog around her daughter’s style aesthetic turned into a full-time career. Or it could be someone like Lauren Conrad, whose Laguna Beach and The Hills fame lent itself naturally to the new maternity clothing line she launched during her pregnancy. This is a generation for whom staying at home and working full time don’t have to be mutually exclusive. They would just as easily identify as “hybrid” moms: They stay home and take care of their kids but also work full-time as lifestyle bloggers, documenting their social lives, securing brand partnerships and creating product lines by the sheer virtue of being mothers. They are different from “pure” mommy bloggers in that they push more content than just photos of their well-dressed babies. Their carefully curated Instagram accounts and stories balance family picnics with beach selfies and ultrasounds with fashion shoots. In addition to the women already mentioned, other social media hybrid moms include Leandra Medine, Amber Fillerup Clark, Arielle Charnas, Melissa Rycroft, Karen Alpert, Ilana Wiles and Judy Travis.
There is a logical explanation for why so many women we know and admire are getting pregnant. These influencers kicked off the blogging boom six or seven years ago when they were in their early 20s. Now, as they approach their 30s, they’re ready to become moms – and incidentally so are their followers, who fall more or less between the ages of 20 and 35. Our Executive Director of Strategy Jessie McGuire says she sought pregnancy-related advice from online portals like BabyCenter and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. But she also religiously followed Sai De Silva’s Instagram journey of carrying her son Rio Dash, since De Silva’s pregnancy timeline matched almost month-to-month with her own.
Some major brands have been vying for the attention of this new generation of mothers. IKEA specifically targeted mothers-to-be with a magazine ad that, when peed on just like a pregnancy test, reveals a discount code for the IKEA family membership club. Yoplait’s latest ad in its Mom On campaign partners with five mom influencers who encourage millennial moms to ignore the haters and unwanted advice on social media. This renewed focus also extends to products and services, such as Modern Fertility (an at-home fertility test), Peanut (a Tinderesque app for moms seeking friends) and Pregnancy Pause (a company that helps moms explain résumé gaps due to maternity leave).
These developments show that the iterations are endless. You can stay at home, or have a high-powered career, or even incorporate your kids into your work and create a business model out of your motherhood. If the house was a company and the baby was the product, the mother would be CMO, handling everything from research to product development and customer service. And as for the father, surely he would qualify as the COO if he keeps the family on track and ensures smooth functioning. The market is ripe for creative disruption and branding opportunities just as much for hybrid moms as it is for hybrid dads. If Jacinda’s big news is any indication, the shifting gender roles in child-rearing should ultimately evolve into a conversation about fatherhood, paternity leave and stay-at-home dads.
Having incessantly researched about pregnancy over the past couple of days, I now look forward to spotting banner ads about affordable strollers on my Facebook feed. I’m still glad I’m not the father of the teenage daughter in Minnesota who started receiving Target coupons in the mail for baby items – mailers he wasn’t expecting but which helped him discover in horror that she in fact was.
The incident is a resounding reminder that brands have the power to use their seemingly unfathomable amounts of data about our consumption habits to develop innovative products and services that cater to different stages of both motherhood and fatherhood. Rest assured this industry is pregnant with possibilities.