The Buying Power of Aunts; Melanie Notkin the Savvy Auntie



Savvy Auntie
                                  Melanie Notkin – The Savvy Auntie

“Only an Aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend.”
~ Spanish Proverb

For some reason, Aunts have, as a group, had the reputation of giving bad presents (think the pink bunny suit in “A Christmas Story”).  This reputation, if at all deserved, is probably because Aunts, particularly those without children, never knew what to give.

Aunts are all around us.  There are our own aunts (I had an Aunt Ida and an Aunt Anna) and there are  famous aunts:  Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show; Aunty Em from the Wizard of Oz and Aunt Jemima of pancake syrup fame to name just a few.

That has changed thanks in large part to the on-going efforts of the Savvy Auntie, Melanie Notkin.  I met Melanie last year and fell in love with her bigger than life personality and powerful advocacy of the Aunt as toy consumer.  She wrote a piece for us in June, “Auntie Up! The Power of the Aunt as Primary Gift Giver,” and was recently featured in a great New York Times article: “Holiday Bonus: A Beloved Aunt With Cash.”

Written by Tanzina Vega, the article focuses on Melanie and” the demographic that advertisers are increasingly trying to reach, especially during the holiday shopping frenzy: the PANK, or Professional Aunt, No Kids.”  Yep, it was Melanie that came up with that name and it’s Melanie

who has been telling the world that targeting aunts is good for business.  Here is how Melanie describes a PANK: 

Whether they are literally aunts, godparents or friends of the family, PANKs argue that they serve a vital role in the family, and holiday gifts are just one part of the equation. These women often provide help with educational expenses, baby-sitting and household chores, Ms. Notkin said. But they can also be that “cool aunt” who exposes a child to cultural experiences for which the parents may not have the time or money. Often they are the trusted adult whom children can talk to about sensitive topics they wouldn’t dare discuss with their parents.

According to Melanie there are 23 million PANKS; do you market them; in fact do you even think about them when shaping your marketing plans?  Maybe you should visit Melanie's website:

Now before leaving this discussion you may be asking yourself, "what about Uncles."  Well, there are PUNKS, (Professional Uncle, No Kids) that could be a market but no one yet seems to be thinking about them.  Maybe they need a Melanie Notkin.




2 thoughts

  1. The real beauty of the internet is that groups of people with a common thread but geographically dispersed can come together and develop their interests.
    This is a new group to me, with the most interesting observation being the need for more and better information to enable good toy buying decisions to be made – something that other groups also need where access to kids is restricted for whatever reason.

  2. I apologize! I was a bit harsh when I wrote the following to Rich about the PANK-sters ‘out there’ who are basically a person WELL in-need who provides a service. I think it’s great to be one of those. I’m an AUNT who lives 1000s of miles away from my niece but have taken the time throughout the years to try to be helpful to neighbors, friends and ‘the community’ at large since my block of time is larger than most since I don’t have kids on my own. As ‘America’s Premier Eventologist’, a title I received from Insight Mag back in Aug of 1997, I suggest that you make PANK into greeting cards and have a special PANK Week — possibly the period 2 weeks before Xmas, drawing up to that time-block. So glad I learned a new concept and am part of a group I hadn’t known previously about! Good Luck and Happy Holidays to us all!
    The following is what I wrote to Rich via LinkedIn when he was publicizing this Article:
    Rich, I am so disappointed. ‘Savvy Aunts’ – what about Savvy Uncles. Men like to shop for TOYS. Who doesn’t like the URGE TO SPLURGE when it comes to TOYS whether UR shopping for a 6 or 60 or 106 year old. You’re leaving out an entire demographic there — MEN besides those men who SHOP FOR TOYS. After all, real men don’t eat quiche; they SHOP FOR TOYS! I’m just giving you a hard time. It’s allowed because I’m the first one to comment here and that makes for more discussion! I hope you’ve tweeted this out and/or include another article about MEN WHO SHOP…for TOYS! Cheers, ASK / Chicago – IL USA

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