Insight • By ELLIE GAUCI • 31 August 2016
Type ‘new mums’ into Google Images and your screen will be awash with pink cheeks, feathery quilts and perfectly coiffed women pressing tiny button noses.
Motherhood is a beautiful thing, but we often have a tendency to see it through rose-tinted glasses – something many brands are also guilty of.
On the other hand, brands trying to empathise with mums today can end up overstepping the mark. We only need look at the Mumsnet backlash to SMA’s ‘You’re Doing Great’ ad to see what happens when mums don’t think brands have understood their experiences.
The power given to parents by online forums like Mumsnet to air their frustrations is just one of the many features liberating this influential consumer category. First-time parents collectively contribute nearly £500m to the UK economy every year. The typical couple can spend £1,600 during pregnancy alone. The opportunities this presents brands are therefore vast – but it seems brands are often misinterpreting what makes new mums tick.
So how can brands get to the bottom of what matters to new mums in order to engage them, build loyalty and boost profits?
Walk in their shoes
One of the biggest brand pitfalls is focusing too much on the cute bit: the new baby. While bringing baby home is often seen as the pinnacle moment, it is just one stage in the journey new mums navigate from planning to birth and beyond.
At PSONA, we advocate Method Planning™ . Like method acting, this involves walking in consumers’ shoes to understand them on both a physical and emotional level.
This approach formed a lens through which I saw my own pregnancy. I wanted to understand how brands see motherhood – and whether or not new mums are getting what they need.
What we found is that brands fixate on the joyous aftermath to their detriment. There are actually six key stages, like the 12-week scan and the 36-week mark when mums usually stop working, that act as purchase triggers. Brands need to see new motherhood as a meandering, emotional experience punctuated by these different stages and plan their strategies to incorporate and join up each of them. That way, they will position themselves closer to the customer, help ease the journey and earn the right to be present post-pregnancy and beyond.
Make it easy
Mothercare, for instance, is turning its fortunes around thanks to a new marketing strategy that aims to capture all the exciting experiences new parents have and facilitate them in-store and online.
New parents’ mindsets usually change when they know a baby is on its way, from making healthier lifestyle choices to requiring products and services that simplify their day-to-day lives.
In-store, Mothercare has integrated play areas and cafes stocked with healthy food. By transforming the shopping environment into one where parents can relax and socialise, the brand is repositioning itself as one that understands its customers’ needs.
The same goes for Mothercare’s digital outlook, from its simplified website and handy app to helpful content output like essentials checklists. In-store staff are equipped with iPads and e-receipts have been introduced with a view to ensuring the shopping experience becomes joined-up and personalised, while growing the company’s database.
Earn your way in
Amazon is another great example of a brand that realises new parents sometimes need a helping hand. Amazon Family simplifies pre-birth prep via easily navigable baby wish lists and a platform that encourages price comparisons and reviews.
Social media has given people the means to demand facts and transparency, and a platform on which to call brands out. The new mums category is no different.
Buying decisions might be driven by practical concerns like cost and delivery, but personal values play an equally important part. In particular, new mums demand authenticity to ensure they are armed with the best products, services and accurate information as they enter a new life stage.
During my own pregnancy, I turned to peer-to-peer recommendations, online forums and my friends via the likes of WhatsApp to verify what brands were telling me or identify the best bargains. I wasn’t alone. While traditionally new mums turned to their own mothers and immediate family for advice (meaning brands were passed from generation to generation) the conversation is becoming more inclusive. 71% of new mums rank friends as their most reliable source of information; and 91% use social media at least once a month.
It’s one thing recognising this openness, but brands need to actively represent and facilitate it, educate people and reinforce social bonds. Those that remove the rosy filters and approach new mums with integrity and authenticity are much more likely to be welcomed into the club.