Marketing to mums - there's more to it than you think
How do mothers see themselves? And what can advertisers learn from the
broad and diverse identities that make up this mass market?
Ahead of Mumstock 2016 (Mumsnet's annual conference on marketing to mums) we teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi to find out more about how mothers identify themselves. The study found at least 66 distinct categories that mums use to define themselves, of which most relate to around six at a time - far more than the half a dozen 'types' most marketers use to try and understand this mass audience.
Missing the mark
Given these findings, it's no surprise that much marketing fails to connect with mothers in a meaningful way. Only 19% of British mothers say they have seen advertising that depicted them in a way they could relate to.
The categories mothers describe themselves relating to are broad and diverse, and they heavily influence their experience of motherhood, the decisions they make and the relationships they have with brands. They can also be seen distinctly in the conversations had on online parenting forums, such as Mumsnet.
The top ten identities selected by the most mothers were groupings that most marketers will be familiar with; for example, the age of their children or the mother's employment status.
But we also asked mothers which five identities resonated most strongly with them and which was their most defining identity. It is this measure of intensity that gives us a real sense of the issues that mums most care about - issues that they claim are routinely ignored in marketing and advertising.
Stop Faking It - what the research showed
"A lot of ads look like they've been made by people who don't have a clue what it's like to be me. There must be, they can't have an entire [advertising] industry without having mums involved, but it doesn't show. I think that it's wrong to expect every family to fit into a particular box."
1. One-child families
are forced to waste money
Brands often design products, services and promotions for "2.4" families, like 2+2 family offers, multipacks and volume discounts. So 2.5 million one-child families are being punished for not fitting the norm by having to waste money and food. Brands need to rethink packaging, promotions and communications if they want to connect better with this overlooked and underserved group.
2. Families of children with special needs rely on package holidays
Because of their reliability and predictability, package holidays mean the
world to mums of
children with special needs. These 1.4 million British women and their families depend so much on this kind of travel, practically and emotionally. Ignoring them and not serving their individual needs represents a huge loss for both sides.
3. Brand experiences can alienate instead of attract audiences
The increasing emphasis on 'immersive' retail experiences has translated into chaotic and noisy stores where some shoppers feel harassed, especially those with special needs. In these instances, stores are repelling mothers and their children.
4. For rural mums, errands are excursions
Still at least 2.2 million British mums look forward to turning the weekly shopping into a family day out because their rural lives mean shopping is not an everyday occurrence.
5. Lone parents are more motivated employees
Being the sole provider pushes lone parents to succeed in their work because
failure is not an
option. Society regularly portrays lone parents as women to be pitied. In reality, they are often empowered, committed, independent women who deserve our admiration and support.
6. Teens require mums to try out new things
5.58 million mums are massively influenced by their teens when it comes to
entertainment and lifestyle. Marketers have decades of experience in leveraging children's
pestering power but very few tap into the subtle influence young adults have on their parents,
and the reversal of roles as positive influencers, and the extra revenue this can mean to brands
7. Lone parents rely much more on the wisdom of the crowds
2.3 million lone mums are without partners to share decision making with. They often rely on multiple readily available information sources, with a heavy emphasis on online reviews for the support they need to make purchase decisions or when looking for recommendations.
Recommendations for marketers
- Change the way you research
- Start a revolution in empathy
- Open up your brand and business
- Remember that today's niche is tomorrow's mainstream
- Getting it is contagious
- You're a mum, act like it
Quantitative research was conducted with Ipsos Connect between 21 December 2015 and 4 January 2016 amongst 1,977 mums aged 16-60 with children aged between 0-18 years old; qualitative research into six of the audience groups, and a further survey with Mumsnet of 814 respondents. The sample was nationally representative of Great Britain for age, regional diversity and socio-economic status. There were also respondents who had children of all ages between 0-18 and different numbers of children.
|Survey on motherhood: it's not a job||Chores survey: the truth about who does what||Childcare survey: how much do grandparents help|
Last updated: almost 5 years ago