Aunts with no kids, or PANKs, latest target for marketers

"Professional Aunts, No Kids," known as PANKs for short, are the latest demograhic group to be courted by marketers.

Aunts who spoil their nieces and nephews are being featured in ad campaigns

Huggies arranged a surprise visit between sisters in this ad targeting aunts. (Huggies)

Marketers use demographics to identify lucrative new consumer groups, and one of the hottest new targets is PANKs.

The acronym stands for "Professional Aunt, No Kids." These are single women with high discretionary incomes who are family-oriented and enjoy spending money on their nieces and nephews.

In this commercial, we hear how close Amber is to her sister, even though they live thousands of kilometres apart. So Huggies secretly arranges a flight, which results in an emotional meeting between sisters and the new nephew.

In this ad, an extended family on a cruise together shows a teen girl’s mood change from sullen to exhilarated. Throughout this ad, we see more than one adult woman taking part in the family fun, but their connection to the girl is never specified.

Turns out this is the result of a 2013 policy adopted by Royal Caribbean. Women shown with children are no longer referred to as "moms," so viewers can decide for themselves the women’s connection to the children.

PANKs are such a lucrative market, there are any number of advertising media targeting them, with some even suggesting which gifts to buy.

This was a 2013 Savvy Auntie Coolest Toy Award winner:

You’d think a single, professional woman might be hesitant to introduce her niece to the sexual objectification and mindless consumerism of Barbie. But being seen as cool in the eyes of kids is important to PANKs. So at Christmas, they rely on expert recommendations before choosing gifts.

As the definition of family evolves, marketers are ever vigilant to find profitable new niches.

And while PANKs definitely fit the bill, the male equivalent shows less promise. A "Professional Uncle, No Kids" just doesn't have the same interest in buying stuff for children.