Worlds Apart

BabyCentre Julie MichaelsonJulie Michaelson, head of global sales at BabyCentre, discusses the disconnect between mums and advertisers, and considers what mobile marketers can do to bridge the gap.

With Mothers Day just around the corner, its the perfect time for marketers to think about mums and pregnant women and how best to deliver their brand message to this hugely influential market, with its massive purchasing potential.

It’s something they need to look at urgently, according to the results of BabyCentres recent report, ‘Mind the Gap: the Disconnect between Mums and Marketers’, the latest in our annual 21st Century Mum Insight Series. From speaking to the thousands of mums we have access to in our communities, the take-home message from the research is that brands are alienating new and expectant mums by sticking to stereotypes that show they just don’t understand them.

Why the urgency? Our report shows how motherhood is a ‘brand-shift moment’ – 80 per cent of women re-evaluate the products and brands they use when they have a baby and 68 per cent will move away from brands they used to purchase. So, there’s enormous potential here for brands that get it right. And getting it right also means getting it right on mobile – 93 per cent of the audience use a smartphone, which they spend an average of 2.1 hours on each day.

Contrasting feelings
What are the top four words pregnant women use to describe themselves? They told us they identify most as being emotional, anxious, uncomfortable and busy. But when we asked them how they thought they were most commonly portrayed in advertising, the top words used were beautiful, glowing, healthy and confident – a stark contrast from how they are actually feeling. Brands are 125 per cent more likely to portray pregnant women as beautiful as these women are to see themselves that way in reality. For the descriptor ‘glowing’ it’s 115 per cent.

The new mums who responded to our research painted a similar picture, telling us: “Adverts for baby milk irritate me. There’s no screaming or crying at bottle time…that is not a realistic example of when a baby is hungry” and: “When you see a makeup commercial and it’s all airbrushed it doesn’t make you want to buy the makeup. Nobody wants to see perfection.”

People will argue that ads are supposed to be inspirational, so perhaps they shouldn’t accurately portray new and expectant mums. However, we know that mums place great importance on being represented realistically, something which is going to become increasingly important as more and more Millennials become pregnant and enter motherhood. Our research found that Millennial mums are more likely than Generation X mums to think it’s important that brands portray pregnant women realistically (70 per cent vs 61 per cent) and to believe that a key element that makes a brand or product a favourite is that they understand what it’s like to be a mum (75 per cent vs 69 per cent).

Getting it right
In February we brought together marketers and mums to debate the insights gleaned from the research and to work out what the lessons are for marketers. When it comes to mobile, the key is enabling mums to use their smartphones to discover that your product or service is endorsed by people just like them – real mums.

One example concerns reviews and recommendations. New and expectant mums are now hugely reliant on these. A whopping 91 per cent say they’re influenced by online reviews when buying, and the number one most important thing about a review is being safe in the knowledge that it came from a parent (85 per cent told us this). One said: “It doesn’t matter if I’m buying bottles or clothes or big things like sterilisers, I always read loads of reviews first before I commit to buying” while another told us: “A brand isn’t as important. It’s more about people’s experiences and reviews.”

With more and more mums using their smartphone while shopping, there is huge potential for mobile marketers to access mums at the purchase point. Brands and retailers that can empower women to access online reviews in store via their phone can reap returns.

Brands that put real mums at the centre of their marketing campaigns also proved popular. By supporting this audience to share reviews and endorsements, you can create user-generated content for your marketing campaigns – as favourites like Ella’s Kitchen have successfully done. Endorsement from real mums increase your chances of the message resonating with, and being trusted by, the audience because it comes via another mum, rather than straight from the brand.

Mobile mums spread the word
For anyone remaining unconvinced, I’ll leave you with a few more stand-out findings from the research. If you can get a Millennial, smartphone-armed mum to feel like you get them, they’ll do the modern-day equivalent of shouting from the rooftops. They’ll text their friends to endorse you, they’ll download your apps, and they’ll take to social media to recommend you to their networks. For mums in 2016, word-of-mouth is now word-of-mobile and it’s a trend that’s here to stay.

Julie Michaelson is head of global sales at BabyCentre. You can access the full report here.