There are 85 million mothers in the United States today. With a staggering annual purchasing power of $2 trillion dollars, they're making their influence felt well beyond the context of home and family.
From the recipes they post on Pinterest to the candid tweets they share at #MommyFail tweets, moms wield tremendous power with brands -- and with other moms. Given that influence, consumer companies of all types are constantly looking for new ways to understand and better serve Mom. But does Mom feel like brands actually know her? Apparently not. According to a recent report, 42 percent of millennial-aged mothers agreed with the statement that “most advertising and marketing is not geared toward women like me.”
This is the terrain our company inhabits. Our global customer collaboration consultancy Communispace works with moms of all ages -- and all walks of life -- on a daily basis, connecting them with brands like Hallmark to help develop products, messaging and experiences that resonate and add value to their lives.
Leading up to Mother’s Day this year, we wanted to share with brands five lessons we’ve learned from working with these moms.
1. Kids come first (naturally).
If your products are organic, BPA-free, gentle and doctor-recommended, moms want to know. They want the safest and best products for their children; and quality and safety trump price. These moms also want more information when researching a product they might buy. And if it can't fit on the label, it had better be on the website.
As one mom shared, “Whether it is all-natural creams, bath soaps and shampoos; well-made, long-lasting clothes; or good-quality food, I am willing to spend a bit more to ensure my girls have the best products -- within reason, of course. For me, it's all about finding that balance between getting things that are good for your kids, but not going over-the-top [with price] with products that are unlikely to actually be any better than other less expensive things.”
2. Moms are expert hackers.
From finding essential oils to warding off colds, to identifying innovative ways to save money, moms are skilled at the art of the hack. If a brand doesn’t offer what a mother needs, she’ll find another brand on her own or seek advice from other moms she trusts.
Savvy brands will find ways to tap into this “hacker” mentality, giving moms information about their products and using sources those moms might not have initially considered. Seventh Generation, for example, is a brand that makes green cleaning products. The company uses social media and a blog to help moms hack their homes. Seventh Generation's #QuickTips offers everything from healthy recipes to closet organization ideas.
Moms are hackers yet again when it comes to savings. They've been early adopters of mobile tools for saving money: For researching and finding the biggest bargains, they use apps such as Ibotta, ShopRunner, CardStar, Walmart Savings Catcher, RetailMeNot and Shopkick. As one mom said, “Sometimes I think moms are the ones in the lead when it comes to coupon-saving innovation.”
3. Moms are brutally honest.
Moms are eager to share their disasters and crowdsource the solutions. From diaper blow-outs to strategies for carving out quality time with their spouse, moms are willing to keep it real and share. As one mom said, “Having children is a big bonding factor. It's a massive life changer and I, like all my mom friends, find it hugely helpful to chat to each other.
"Sharing experiences and talking through issues, no matter how minute," this mom continued, "makes you realize you're not alone and gives you support in what is an emotionally rewarding but also taxing role.” Mothers value this open and forthright discourse, and brands should follow suit.
4. Moms are tech-sensitive.
For moms of babies and younger kids, technology can be a great thing to monitor their children or track milestones. But moms remain cautious about using technology for children's entertainment or in toys. The technology has to have a real purpose and utility. In today’s digitally obsessed world, brands may find it easy to fall back on building an app or other tech-based solution to help moms. But technology for technology’s sake doesn’t cut it.
5. Children's privacy is paramount.
The safety, security and privacy of their young ones on the internet and social media is a huge point of conversation for mothers. Moms worry that their children will share private information online without knowing the full ramifications. Brands that interact with moms online should be extra-transparent about their data and privacy policies. Don’t make moms hunt for the information. If it’s hard to find, they’ll likely opt out rather than take a risk.
Just as each mother is different, so are the dynamics of her relationships: with her children, her partner, her sister, her mother. Relationships matter. And it’s that factor -- real relationships with real mothers, not general facts and figures about them -- that should guide brands to make authentic connections and deliver the products and services moms really want.