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PANK Power: The “Other” Female Social Media Influencers

My name is Kyle Elyse Niederpruem and I am a PANK. Now, “women in my category” have a new label thanks to marketers. PANK = Professional Aunts, No Kids. According to new market research, we PANKs spend $9 billion annually on kids. With five nieces and nephews of my own to claim from three siblings, I believe the figure might even be higher. I am the new category of female social media influencers.

One in five women (19 percent) is a PANK, representing approximately 23 million Americans. Seventy-six percent of them have spent more than $500 a year on each of the children in their lives. They not only spend, they often splurge.

Digital Women Influencers, a survey of 2,000 North American women conducted by KRC Research, produces the evidence that PANKs are worth chasing as both social media influencers and top spenders in various consumer categories.

Melanie Notkin, founder of America’s Savvy Auntie, is credited with coming up with the label that broadly covers aunts, godmothers, cousins, neighbors, and special friends of mom or dad. She works with national brands such as Hallmark, Olay, Tropicana and Walt Disney Studios.

No male counterparts yet to PANKS, or Professional Uncles, No Kids = PUNKs — or, as one marketing executive called them in The New York Times: “punkles.”

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The survey details us PANKs as “a highly appealing demographic for marketers because of their dynamic influence and digitally-connected lifestyle.”

This is what the PANK survey tells me about me as a buyer of consumer goods:

  • We are exceptionally good sharers of information about clothing, vacation/travel, websites/social networks sites, and products for digital devices but also index higher on traditional “mom” categories such as groceries/food and beverages, home appliances and decorating goods.
  • We consume more online media and also are ahead of the curve on social media. As such, we are labeled as notorious “information sharers.” We have multiple social media channels and spend more time using them than the average woman.

To engage me as a PANK buyer, the survey says marketers should:

  • Acknowledge us and avoid stereotyping us as clumsy and ineffective with children. (The research shows otherwise.)
  • Appeal to our unique relationship with the children in our lives.
  • Stop catering to moms only as an exclusive domain of buyers.

Here’s what my PANK gut tells me – while it’s always good to appeal to a large and common denominator, markets are often segmented and better served if catered to directly. One strong recommendation is better in some circles than 100 comments in others. Yet, the numbers obsess us and often elude us. Or as the numbers obsessed sharks often say: “I can’t make any money on this deal. I’m out.”

Still, bad marketers work with anecdotes while good marketers work with numbers.

It’s a good idea to at least rethink your strategy if you’re missing out on a specific category of social media influencers and buyers – especially when it comes to the influential buying power and decisions of women.

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