As Mumsnet opens its annual ‘mother of all conferences’ Mumstock, new research conducted by Saatchi & Saatchi and Mumsnet offers unique insights into how mothers define themselves - and shows how traditional research and marketing techniques are selling the complicated world of motherhood short.
The report, Stop Faking It, which used a proprietary research technique that allowed mothers to define themselves as an audience, reveals that:
- there are at least 66 distinct groups that mums use to define themselves, from ‘mums of teens’ to ‘feminist mums’ to ‘mums of children who have special needs’;
- the average British mother simultaneously relates to at least six of these 66 identities, and in some cases, many more;
- these broad and diverse identities heavily influence the decisions these women make, and the relationships they have with brands; and
- for marketers to create a genuine connection with mums, they need to scrap simplistic assumptions and generic insights and focus on what real mums really care about.
The research investigates four of the most important identities by which mothers choose to define themselves: lone parents (2.3 million mums), mums of children with special needs (1.4 million women), mums of teenagers (almost 6 million women) and self-employed mums (1.7 million women). It also explores rural mums (2.2 million women) and mums with one child (2.5 million women in the UK), because they are seemingly marginalised by contemporary marketing.
Published today, the research reveals seven core insights alongside suggestions for strategic marketing approaches:
1. One-child families are forced to waste money
Brands often design products and services like multipacks and family day out offers with a ‘2.4 children’ model in mind. They need to re-think packaging, promotions and communications if they want to appeal to families of different shapes and sizes.
2. Families of children with special needs rely on package holidays
Package holidays mean the world to mums of children with special needs, because of their reliability and predictability. 1.4 million British women and their families depend on this kind of travel for practical and emotional reasons. Ignoring them, and not serving their individual needs would be a huge loss for both sides.
3. Brand experiences can alienate instead of attract audiences
Chaotic, loud stores with an emphasis on immersive retail experiences can make consumers feel harassed, especially those with special needs or mental health issues. These stores can repel mothers - and their money.
4. For rural mums, errands are excursions
At least 2.2 million mums in the UK look forward to turning the weekly shop into a family day out, because their rural locations mean that shopping is not part of their everyday life. By assuming that all mums depend on online shopping, marketers risk leaving rural mums behind.
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. “I’m the only one that they financially depend on…. It’s quite a positive thing, not a negative thing - the majority of my friends...admire how I do everything by myself.” (Helena, lone parent)
6. Teens encourage mums to try out new things
5.58 million mums are hugely influenced by their teens when it comes to fashion, 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 how this can translate into extra revenue for brands.
7. Lone parents rely much more on the wisdom of crowds
2.3 million lone mums don’t necessarily have partners to share decision-making with. They often rely on multiple readily-available information sources for the support they need to make purchase decisions, with a heavy emphasis on online reviews.
Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: “We know from the Mumsnet forums just how strongly felt many of these identities are, and how comforted and supported mothers feel when crucial facets of their mothering experience are acknowledged. Demonstrating an understanding of a variety of experiences is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.”
Richard Huntington, Chief Strategy Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “All marketers crave better and more meaningful connections with their audiences and especially mums. This new approach provides just that, by focusing on the issues that mums care about most, and not those of sole concern to brands and businesses.”