The Mother of All Markets

The depth and breadth of the mom market is deep and wide

Dance moms. Soccer moms. Football, baseball, and softball moms. Cheer moms. Pick almost any sport or activity a child can do and there’s probably a squad of moms looking for gear. The Mom Market can be a lucrative one, and it’s all around us in most communities.

The challenge is connecting with the market and figuring out which gear will sell best to your particular coterie of moms. While the market is big, it can be segmented, and there are some challenges you’ll need to overcome in order to be successful in marketing your mom merchandise.

The size of the market

The standard statistic for the number of mothers in the United States in 2022 is 85 million. Granted, not all of those moms are going to have children that participate in activities or be inclined to wear items that proclaim the activities their children may do. So, let’s be conservative and say one third of those moms would be interested in buying merchandise. That’s still just over 28 million women. Now add in grandmothers, and possibly aunts, sisters, and so on, and your market could increase exponentially. Clearly, this is a market niche that can be large and very lucrative for the right merchandise and the right approach.

One thing to keep in mind when assessing a potential market and deciding what to offer is that not all activities are created equal. Some may have a higher price point and will, most likely, have a pool of participants and families that have higher disposable incomes than others. There are some activities – dance, cheer, and gymnastics come to mind – which have a higher cost of entry and may require more traveling. This may mean, although it won’t always, that the kids who participate and the families who support them may have more disposable income and would be more likely to spend money on a Dance Mom or Tumbling Mom decorated item. While this is not a hard-and-fast rule, it is something to consider when choosing what to sell and setting price points for items.

What to sell

The depth and breadth of the mom market is deep and wide, so almost any item you can decorate could probably be sold to some part of the market. There are some items, however, that are standards and may be easier to sell:

  • Clothing – T-shirts are probably the first thing to mention in this category. Whether sublimated, screen printed, embroidered, or blinged, moms may have several of these types of T-shirts in their closets, particularly if they have multiple children participating in multiple different activities. Shirts aren’t the only option, though; warm-up jackets, sweatshirts and sweaters, hats, and socks may also be popular items. A reminder here: make sure whatever clothing item you select is within the potential budget range of the moms to whom you’ll be selling.
  • Drinkware – Water bottles, tumblers, travel mugs, coffee mugs, basically anything you can put a liquid into for safe transport. Keep in mind that moms have to drive to practices and sit through meets and matches, and they need to stay hydrated (and probably caffeinated) while they do it. So, drinkware that allows their drink of choice to come along for the ride is always going to be appreciated.
  • Bags – Many sports require gear and/or special clothing, which needs to be transported to matches or meets or practices. Moms also require bags to carry all the items they may need in order to be prepared for whatever situations may arise. Yes, in some cases a purse may do, but in others a tote bag or a duffel bag will serve the situation better.
  • Blankets or wraps – If you’re a football mom or the mom of a kid who plays some other outdoor sport, or if your child plays hockey or figure skates, sitting and watching a game or a practice can be a pretty cold endeavor. While this category may be less known than some of the others, having a warm blanket or wrap can really come in handy, and if it’s decorated with something that shows your allegiance, so much the better.

Where (and how) to sell your wares

One simple way to sell what you create is to capitalize on a niche you’re already in. If you’re a parent who has a child on a team or doing an activity, create some gear for yourself or the moms in your life, and have that gear make an appearance at an event. Chances are someone will ask where you got the cool gear, and then you can explain that you made it and that they could get something similar.

Make sure you’re prepared with pricing and ordering instructions and that you have business cards or some other way to distribute your information. If you’re really ambitious, you might even have a store set up from which people can order. The idea is to make it easy for those who see your work to go from “I like that” to “I want that” to “I own that now.”

Having children is not a prerequisite for entering this market. Maybe there’s just a particular activity or sport you like, or a particular team, school, or club that seems like a good target for mom-centered merchandise. In those cases, there are a few things to remember.

If you are targeting an organization with a logo, and you want to use that logo on your merchandise, you will have to get permission to do so. This may involve purchasing a license or getting written permission from the owner of the logo for its use. Some organizations are very diligent and fierce about protecting their logos, so it’s always wise to secure the necessary permissions before you start making and selling gear. If you don’t, all of your hard-earned profits could potentially end up in the hands of the owner of the logo. No one wants that, so practice due diligence and make sure all your ducks are in a row legally before you start selling merchandise.

mom market
Image courtesy Jaime A. Carnes, Signs & Printing

While you’re securing permissions, you may also want to try to work out deals with the organization granting the rights. Perhaps you can be their official supplier for mom merchandise. Offer to set up online stores where purchases can be made. Maybe do a deal where they help you promote the stores and merchandise for a cut of the proceeds. Having the stamp of approval of the school, league, or organization may make potential customers feel more secure about buying, and it will certainly help get the site in front of your potential customer group.

Don’t forget on-site vending as a sales option. Sports teams have tournaments and matches. Chess clubs and other school clubs may have on-site competitions. If you vend on site, you will need to either have the equipment and supplies to create on demand, or you’ll need to have enough inventory made so you can offer a variety of options for those who want to buy. The advantage to this sort of selling is that you’re in a place filled with potential customers. This is, however, another situation where you may have to pay a fee or get permission to sell.

Some events grant exclusivity rights, so that’s something to ask about as well. As a last-ditch option, you could wear something you made to the event and hand out business cards to those who ask about it; if you are there as a parent of a participant, you might get away with it. However, some events – particularly those that grant exclusivity to on-site vendors – can be touchy about that sort of thing, so double check before going that route.

Another fertile place to sell your wares is on social media. Many sports or organizations have groups for moms of the children who participate. A simple search on your social media platform of choice may lead you to some ideal ground for selling.

As with any type of social media selling, there are a few things you need to be aware of. First, check the rules of whatever group or forum you’re intending to use as a sales platform and make sure selling is allowed. There’s no point in wasting time making posts if they’re only going be deleted and get you banned.

Second, make sure that you’re doing more than just selling when you join an online community. People buy from companies and people they know and trust, so focus on becoming a trusted community member first and getting sales second.

Last, but not least, when you’re looking for markets for mom gear, don’t forget the pet moms. The trend of calling pets fur babies or fur children means that women are interested in dog mom or cat mom gear. The latest trend seems to be embroidering the names of the pets on the garment as well. Approximately 70 percent of households in the United States own pets, so that’s a lot of moms out there who may be looking for gear.


Kristine Shreve

Kristine is the founder and CEO of Kristine Shreve Consulting which offers writing, marketing and business development services. Kristine is also the creator and host of the Business + Women podcast, where the discussion centers around being a woman business owner. She blogs on her webiste, as well as readingandranting.com and whenimthin.com. On Facebook, Kristine is the founder of the Women in Garment Decoration Facebook group. Kristine was the director of marketing for Ensign Emblem and EnMart from 2006 to April 2020.

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