are “yoga moms” the new “soccer moms”?

The blogosphere is bursting with stories about the tension-filled relationship between yoga and marketing – the recent NY Times article set off sparks around the yoga interwebs, and a fascinating conversation rages on  YogaDork regarding Lululemon’s latest ad campaign. However, a post on TechCrunch takes it to a whole other level.

Apparently, a new behavioral marketing target product developed by Blinkx, a large video search engine, has broken people into 9 categories – including “Yoga Moms,” women who are concerned about the environment, kids, family, and health and fitness.  This is how the product works:

Brands will be able to target specific segments by showing their ads only to Yoga Moms or Digital Dads. People are classified in the different buckets depending on what they watch. Binkx trains the system by extracting different concepts from each video and matching them to a profile. For instance, videos about children, crafts, soccer, or terrible twos are the types of things Yoga Moms supposedly watch. Advertisers can see the keywords associated with each psychographic profile to determine who they want to go after. [via TechCrunch]

So it looks like the “Yoga Mom” has replaced the “Soccer Mom” as the stereotypical (and economically powerful) middle class suburban woman with a family.  How do y’all feel about “yoga” being used as an adjective for a consumer with certain types of behaviors, along with Digital Dads, Gossip Girls and Bachelors? What does this say about the cultural perception of yoga and yoga practitioners?

  1. I’m just not up to a deep, insightful comment today, so can I say that I think the lego people are really cute!? I think I would be a 10th category, “humanitarian hippie” perhaps? 😉 My lego avatar would have cargo pants, birkenstocks, a ‘PEACE ON EARTH’ t-shirt and a broad-brimmed hat. How about you?

    Tapping into my more serious side, I think that I am going to just have to gracefully accept the existence of trendy, commercialized yoga as a part of the Western world. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

    In a sense we are mirroring those in India 50 or so years ago who were appalled and dismayed by the teaching of Yoga to the first westerners. Those people include some of our most respected teachers today, certainly not people associated with the yoga trend that has been witnessed in the last decade or so. Yet when their training began, many Indians were appalled at what they saw to be the unraveling of a sacred practice. I guess they sensed what was to come.

    So now, we are seeing almost a generational/cultural reflection of that exact sentiment.

    Nobody owns yoga. Not us, not the Yoga Moms, not (anymore) the Indian sages. And as the Zen master Lao Tzu says (paraphrase): “If you swim with it, the river runs its course. If you swim against it, the river runs its course.”

    Like it or not, things just are. That’s my take for today, anyway.

    [PS – I have to say, I have seen some pretty commercialized yogis pandering their wares across India, making DVD’s, posting flashy videos on YouTube etc. Different look, different audience, same mass appeal. Guess you just can’t stop the march of progress.]

  2. I actually think it’s pretty great… Yoga is SO powerful, it’s impacting the way people spend their money? Fabulous! If that doesn’t make the world a better place, I don’t know what will.

    I like the Lego people, too… I want a little yoga Leggo woman.. Ooh! and the Eco Man.. He’s cool, too!

  3. fascinating!

    at least it will make it easier for YAMA talent to get gigs, and for companies to “go yoga”

  4. I would love for more companies to go yoga because I teach yoga in the worksite! I resent being a statistic, but as it is, I’m a statistic anyway. I’d rather band together wtih fellow yoginis and assemble power for change!

  5. eek. i sort of feel like this ties into those hippie-dippy stores that sell books and products that try and teach you how to not want to buy things. it’s sort of counter-intuitive and, if they actually worked, the store would be out of business. yoga has taught me to consume less, not more. not a fan.

  6. Are they using “yoga” to indicate that she does yoga, or are they using it as a symbolic blanket term for someone who cares about wellness and the environment? I only ask because the terms they use to label categories seem mostly cutesy and broad – so vague as to include a wide array of ideas.

    • from what i understand, the term “yoga mom” has nothing to do with the practice of yoga, and doesn’t indicate a class of mothers who do yoga. it is, as you put it, a symbolic blanket term.

      so it’s not about yoga being powerful or driving people’s consumer habits, or even some business capitalizing off the practice. what i find fascinating about this is how it indicates a kind of popular perception of yoga practitioners ~ middle class, women, health/fitness/family concerned. what i find disheartening is how bland and suburban that is, and how it doesn’t reflect the actual diversity and breadth of real-world yogis.

      anyway. social workout posted a pretty funny response to this, in which they contrasted the characteristics of “yoga moms” and “soccer moms.”

  7. It’s a rather uninspired use of the term, I agree.
    Especially since soccer moms are such a source of ridicule.

  8. You’ve done it again. Superb writing!

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