By Emily Valentine (@ebvalentine)
I’m just back from 36 very stimulating hours at the world’s premier conference on marketing to moms, and literally buzzing with all that I learned. My hands-down highlight was getting to hear from (and then speak one-on-one with!!) one of the brilliant minds behind Procter & Gamble’s universally acclaimed Thank You Mom campaign, Janet Domingo Fletcher. In addition to being strategic, creative and insightful, Janet is an eloquent speaker and a warm, engaging individual. She’s my new marketing hero.
Now I’ll quit gushing and move on to my key takeaways from the conference. Here goes:
1) Moms today crave meaningful moments. You don’t have to be a scientist to observe that moms today feel chronically rushed. The stats presented throughout this conference confirmed that moms multi-task constantly and almost always look for ways to kill two birds with one stone. But, no matter how much time they save, life continues to add items to their to-do lists. The omnipresence of technology and heightened pace of life means that truly being present during family time is harder than ever for moms, and their desire for more meaningful interactions is heard globally (Starcom MediaVest Group).
The up-side to this is that it opens the door for brands to help moms create moments of togetherness. We can do this by elevating routines to rituals (e.g., each kid in the family takes a turn helping mom with dinner), discovering new rituals (like family Wii night), adapting traditions (ever been to a virtual baby shower??) and extending memorable moments through photos, video, Skype, etc. Campaigns that rise to this challenge will appeal to moms because, as one respondent poignantly said, “the 10 minutes we spend with our kids in daily routine can either add up to nothing, or add up to something that matters.”
2) The strongest brands are those that listen and evolve. This mantra was repeated by nearly every single speaker at the conference. Matt Petersen of Mattel encouraged marketers to “plan your brand story by envisioning where you want to go… but then once you begin to implement, don’t be afraid to stray from the plan and evolve you strategy in response to customer feedback.”
Janet Fletcher emphasized that P&G’s Proud Sponsor of Moms campaign was rooted in conversations with moms of Olympians and Olympic hopefuls. Every TV spot was copy-tested and revised as needed so that each one would convey authentic behaviors and emotions.
And, according to Janet Helm of Weber Shandwick, when Milk PEP began to notice milk sales declining, one of the first things they did was talk to moms. The new Got Milk? Breakfast Project emerged when they found breakfast to be a meal with a strong emotional underpinning for moms, many of whom take pride in getting their kids off to a good start in the morning.
3) Dad isn’t the new mom. He’s the new dad. New research presented by Ogilvy and the Gepetto Group supports anecdotal evidence that dads are increasingly involved in activities traditionally handled by moms. They’re grocery shopping, planning meals, helping in the kitchen and coordinating in- and after-school activities for their kids. So, whether you know it or not, if your marketing communications speak directly to moms, they will also speak directly or indirectly to dads.
Alan Kercinik (@alankercinik) and Dana Ewing shared some words of caution and avenues of opportunity for brands navigating around the “Parent Trap”:
- Avoid the Homer Simpson archetype. Portraying men as “bumbling idiots incapable of caring for children” will only breed ill will.
- Do hold dad to the same parenting standard as mom. He does not appreciate getting a pat on the back for taking the kids out to lunch, driving them to school, or tending to their temper tantrums. Those tasks are part of his daily or weekly routine now, and he wants credit for it.
- Look for ways to connect with dad (and mom) by fostering his unique take on parenting and providing channels for SuperDad moments.
4) Kids and parents now aspire to the same brands. One in every five births is now given by a woman over the age of 35, which means the average mom has had more time to develop brand loyalties and accustom herself to certain rituals … like a daily visit to Starbucks or weekly trip to Whole Foods. Today’s moms are also earning more money and having fewer kids. Bridget Brennan of Female Factor says this combination (more disposable income + fewer family members to buy for) translates into more experiences and “stuff” for kids.
So, aside from the occasional shock factor (Is that kid really flying business class? Really?), what does this mean for consumer brands? When appropriate, they should follow the example of companies like Trader Joe’s and Home Depot and adopt a family strategy that allows them to market their products to multiple members of each household.
Trader Joe’s must’ve noticed that, when a mom comes into their store, she often has a few “mini-me”s in tow. Knowing that the happier those rascals are, the happier mom will be, the grocery chain wisely introduced kid-sized carts in their stores (which rarely make it to the check-out line empty). Home Depot now offers building workshops that draw 275,000 kids (and their parents!) into stores each month. I think it’s safe to bet that the projects children start in these workshops will lead to many more in the long haul.
5) Trust = the new marketing catalyst. Stacy DeBroff of MomCentral reminded us that we’ve officially exited the Mad Men era and now inherently do not believe that brands will tell us the truth. So … we (especially moms) are turning to social media to seek out opinions we trust instead of relying on the information brands feed us. The Pampers DryMax case study is a classic example of how a small, vocal group can stop a marketing campaign in its tracks by calling its trust into question via social media.
But this news isn’t all bad … brands have a great opportunity to make this phenomenon work to their advantage by actively listening and responding to their stakeholders on a monthly, daily and even hourly basis. Take Milk, for example. Every morning between 7-11am, the Milk team is engaged online, listening to moms tweet and post about their breakfast routines, responding to their questions, collecting and sharing relevant information, and connecting them with seasoned experts who can address specific topics.
So, there you have my top five takeaways … stay tuned in the coming months as I begin to apply what I learned, and hopefully put it to work to benefit my clients.
What opportunities do you see for your brand or clients in the trends outlined above?
Image courtesies: In Good Company, Visible Measures, Kraft