Holiday advertisers targeting professional aunts

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The holiday season is still weeks away, but not to advertisers. They are targeting a powerful group of women who are also aunts.

This year, it is all about being the cool aunt. In the latest Land's End catalog, they published "being an aunt means when we're together, there are no rules."

Shiro Njoroge, 31 works at MD Anderson, is engaged and doesn't want kids. But she is a PANK to five nieces and three nephews.

There are 23 million American women known as PANKs - professional aunt, no kids. PANKs will spend $9 billion on toys and gifts for their nieces and nephews each year.

"They anticipate my coming and they always know to expect something when I show up," Shiro said.

Carrie Schadle is a 46-year-old single attorney without any kids, but she has two nieces and a nephew that she spoils.

"I'm lucky. I've worked hard, I've been successful, I can share that with them," Schadle said.

Melanie Notkin, also a PANK, wrote a book called "Savvy Auntie" about the trend. Some argue that PANKs get the best parts of parenting without doing any of the work, but she sees it differently.

"Parents should embrace the fact that these women are so generous to spend their time and their money on other people's children," Notkin said.

Some PANKs are not able to have kids of their own, and others help pay for college and are the children's confidantes.

"I would think if they needed anything that they could always come to me," Schadle said.

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