Mum’s the word: Why marketing to mums is big business

Twelve months ago I became a mum for the first time. Little did I know that I was also going to become a marketers dream... and discover a whole new marketing world!

Twelve months ago I became a mum for the first time. Little did I know that I was also going to become a marketers dream… and discover a whole new marketing world of marketing to mums!

From the moment you discover you are pregnant, an entire new world opens up that you never previously knew existed. There are new areas of department stores that you have never ventured into and websites you have never visited.  And you suddenly get inundated with freebies – lots and lots of them. At no other time in your life do you have brands actually wanting to give you something for nothing!

One of the first items of marketing that pregnant women encounter is the Bounty pack, which is distributed by your midwife as soon as you tell them that you are pregnant. There are five packs to collect, each tailored to your different life stage and each containing a mountain of literature, free samples and advertising leaflets. Founded in 1959 by Bill Hopewell-Smith (an advertising executive no less) the Bounty pack has become a valuable source of information for mums and a fantastic opportunity for businesses to sell you their products, with over 95% of mums using some or all of the samples from their packs. The famous Bounty packWhether it be nappies, toothpaste or antibacterial spray you soon find yourself surrounded by money off coupons or little trial size packs, tempting you to become a convert to their products – and it works.

And it isn’t just baby products that are vying for your attention. Cleaning products, financial services, electrical items and clothing are all given a baby slant to try and tempt you into purchasing. If an advert in a baby magazine isn’t enough, then why not have a free sample? Or join their baby community? Or how about a money off coupon? It is hard to resist. I found myself switching cleaning products as there was an alternative brand telling me I could use theirs on my highchair (“oh, and why not have this free sample so we can show you just how good we are?”), I started using a different washing powder that was “delicate on baby’s skin” and invested in a baby thermos as a normal one just wasn’t going to do the job.  My whole shopping experience changed as I became a member of forums to get other mums’ opinions on what they used and what they thought about different products.

Bounty is now no longer just a pack you get at a hospital, it is also an online community. Alongside the likes of Mumsnet and Netmums it has become a source of reference for many mums, and a ‘super power’ in relation to parenting related issues. Representatives from the companies often appear on Breakfast news, and their surveys often contribute to government legislation. The power of mums has become a force to be reckoned with, which is why brands are clambering over themselves to have a taste of the mum market.

Why mums are big business

Having returned to work and put my ‘marketing hat’ back on, I’ve realised what phenomenal opportunities there are for businesses to target mums both before and after their children arrive.  There is a huge array of ways that you can attract their attention, not only through magazines and press inserts but also through social media and parenting blog sites.

Mums on the netNew mums in particular are immediately on the search for information and will scour the internet and magazines for snippets of knowledge or they’ll message other women in forums who are in the same boat. They are also likely to happily hand over their email address in return for some money off vouchers or, better still, a new baby pack of some description. Boots, Pampers, Aptimel, Cow & Gate, Sainsburys and Tescos all have baby clubs that you can join which offer a range of money-off vouchers and freebies – even a cuddly cow! Another clever little trick they use is to capture your baby’s due date which means that they can determine exactly how pregnant you are and eventually the age of your baby, meaning that they can continue to market relevant products and messages to you for years to come.

If you have a baby or child related product then the marketing opportunities are endless. But what about if you haven’t?  Can you really tap into the lucrative mums market?

Not just nappies and milk…

As major influencers over which household brands are purchased mums are a vital target consumer group for marketers, but the way in which you communicate with them needs to be carefully considered. A survey by Joshua G2 revealed that 64% of mums The Cow & Gate coware not satisfied with the way that brands communicate with them, with 31% claiming that brands appear patronising and often perpetuate the ‘super mummy’ myth.  With 27% of mums using social networking sites* (2% higher than the national average), ensuring that you engage with your consumer has become paramount. At the ‘Marketing to Children’s conference’ in June 2011, Cairrie Longton, the Mumsnet founder, identified modern mothers as “educated, savvy, cynical and irreverent” parents, who are “early adopters” who want brands to create “products that make their lives easier”, highlighting that regardless of what your product actually is, there are opportunities if you position your product correctly and communicate with mums in a way that doesn’t patronise.

Longton also discussed a recent successful tie up with the soft drinks brand Innocent, where the brand recruited 400 mums to work on five projects over a year, which culminated in a new product ‘Innocent Kids Juicy drink’. Highlighting the benefits of the tie up, she stated that 79% of users** on the Mumsnet site had bought the product after reading other mums recommendations. So, by engaging the mums audience even before your product has been conceived (excuse the pun) will give you an even greater potential in this vast market.

So to summarise, whatever your product or service, try looking at it from a different perspective and see if you can find an angle that shows how your product would make a parent’s life easier.

A free sample doesn’t go amiss either…

*Marketing Week June 2009

** Marketing June 2011