Mother’s Little (Mobile) Helper

Mother's day, mobile commerce moms

“Things are different today, I hear every mother say …”

  • The Rolling Stones, "Mother’s Little Helper," 1966


If one had the bright idea to make your mother a playlist (or a mix CD for the particularly old-school) for her to listen to on Mother’s Day and searched Google for songs about motherhood, you might (as we actually did) stumble onto the Rolling Stone’s classic “Mother’s Little Helper."

The song, incidentally, makes an absolutely terrible choice for an addition to a Mother’s Day playlist in almost any imaginable circumstance – so do not include it and certainly don’t tell your mother it reminds you of her.

But even though you should absolutely not include this on your Mother’s Day playlist, it absolutely deserves a pre-Mother’s Day listen for two reasons.

The first has nothing to do with payments or commerce.

It is actually just delightful to hear a 23-year-old Mick Jagger sing about “what a drag it is getting old.” Because in this regard he was less than prescient - at least in his own case, since the Rolling Stones managed to party uninterrupted for five decades and continue to sell out stadiums into their 70s.

But the part about things being different today and needing a mother’s little helper, that actually ended up being spot on.

Sort of.

The good news is that the digital age has done much, much better in the mother’s little helper department than Valium, which is what Mick was singing about.

And while mobile phones can’t make mothers less busy, or their families more helpful, it has been observed that the most important “m” in “mCommerce” doesn’t actually stand for mobile.

It stands for “Mom.”

How did mobile become this generation’s version of “mother’s little helper” – and mobile commerce the latest and greatest expansion of “mommerce?”

Moms Are So, So Busy (Dads & Kids ... Not So Much)

According to the Department of Labor, 70.8 percent of women with children under the age of 18 work outside the home.

In 1966 that number was around 35 percent.

Moms are also increasingly not a household's second salary — 40 percent of working moms are either the sole or primary breadwinner in their household; 50 years ago that was at 11 percent.

Within that group, 37 percent are the higher earner in a two-income household, and 63 percent are the only breadwinner in their household.

Some moms are working outside the home at double and triple the rate of 50 years ago — their housework has fallen off, right?

They wish.

Mothers now spend all of that time at work, but they are not really spending remarkably less time on household chores and duties. Mothers, according to recent estimates, spend about six hours per day on housework (cooking, cleaning, etc) and childcare. Fathers on the other hand, spend about three.

Dads also report having three more hours a week of leisure time than moms do, but then that really isn’t all that surprising considering that when Moms are not cooking and cleaning, they are doing a lot of the shopping.

Around 80 percent of mothers report going to the grocery store more than once a week. Nielsen says that Moms are 50 percent more likely to buy toys and 35 percent more likely to shop for clothes online than the average consumer, but then that would almost have to be true since 78 percent of all mothers report that they buy all or most of their children’s clothing, while 62 percent report buying all or most of their spouse’s clothing.

So to sum up, Moms are almost as likely to work outside the home as Dads, are almost 50-50 on being the primary breadwinner and yet are doing about as much of the housework and shopping as they were doing 50 years ago.

A drag indeed.

Mobile Mommerce

There is some good news on the horizon. Dads are getting better — a little bit, slowly — but they are trying. Especially when it comes to cooking, according to Bloomberg, Dads are really getting into the joy of cooking. And as summer rolls around, they are king of the barbecue, so there’s that too.

Cleaning up afterwards and doing the grocery shopping before, not so much.

Luckily, there is also the shelter of that mother’s little helper, which in 2016 is the mobile device.

And moms — particularly of the millennial variety — love and rely on their mobile.

A quick look at data indicates that 83 percent of moms report having a smartphone and 62 percent of those smartphone owners have at least one shopping app on it. Moms are also heavy tablet users, as 60 percent report owning at least one – and 44 percent report owning more than one.

As for their digital commerce habits, 40 percent report shopping online via mobile at least semi-regularly, 78 percent report using devices to research products and 25 percent say their main use for their device is to look for coupons.

But wait, there’s more.

Instacart has been increasingly pitching to the Mom demographic of late, since it is widely written up on mommerce-centric blogs as “God’s gift to motherhood.” And while moms are not yet the largest demographic shopping group on Instacart (millennial singles still hold that title), they are absolutely the biggest spending group.  And, when the grocery delivery wagon is moved to the suburbs and Peapod is the provider, the numbers get even more striking. The majority of Peapod orders are made by Moms, as are the largest.

The mobile commerce and on-demand offerings for moms on the go include services that deliver designer shoes weekly to working women who want to look stylish but don’t have the time to shoe shop regularly, as well as various mobile salon offerings that will fix their hair, do their makeup and make a pedicure happen all from the comfort of their kitchen. And having that type of convenience is like manna from heaven for those Moms who want all of those services but don’t want to drag the kids along or find childcare so she can go out alone.

And when Moms just want to kick back after the kids are in bed, the dishes are washed, the laundry is done and email is checked, there’s Drizly, Saucey, and Amazon Prime Now – all of which are ready to get a bottle of wine into mom’s hand in under an hour.

So this Mother’s Day when you are sending your Mom a card or maybe thinking about getting the wife some flowers, remember that more likely than not, waiting at home is a superhero whose only weapon is the mobile phone in her hand — and a commerce ecosystem bent on delivering every imaginable good to her front door.

It’s not a bad start, and certainly an improvement over the mother’s little helper about which Mick Jagger sang 50 years ago.

Still, you might just consider doing the dishes or vacuuming something, since — at least as of now — there is not an Uber for dishwasher unloading or getting the dog hair out of the couch.



Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border.

Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

Click to comment