Why engaging mums is essential to accessing families

Mar 9, 2011

Source: www.utalkmarketing.com

As the primary controller of the family finances, mums make around 97% of the weekly purchasing decisions for their families. With an estimated 19 million mums in the UK it is clearly in the interest of brands to ensure their marketing strategies, products and services are meeting their needs and expectations.

To find out what mums really want from brands, we must be willing to connect with them in their natural environment, in the course of their day-to-day lives and routines. This could be out shopping; with friends; at home; at playgroup etc. The language, tone, and line of questioning we use should also follow the same natural pathway. This reduces the interference with mums’ regular behaviour and allows real, true insight to flow freely, unhindered.

An example of this is the recent work we completed for a major baby food manufacturer. We were asked to review a new line of organic baby food products, which were in development. Giving mums the freedom to trial and think about the products in their own home environment, as part of their daily routine, allowed them to develop really insightful feedback, purely based on their needs and requirements as a mum. The feedback has been used as a significant resource in product development and marketing.

All too often we see research with mums being conducted at arms length, through form filling, over the internet or in hostile, formal surroundings. Engaging mums in this way will not provide a true picture of what really matters to them, and certainly can’t be converted into any meaningful consumer-led marketing strategy.

It is often the piece of the jigsaw we see missing from seemingly well thought out marketing programmes.

It’s important to recognise the key channels of influence and true ‘touchpoints’ for mums too. Some 84% are regular internet users, and with new online channels dedicated to this group popping up on a daily basis, there is a strong belief among marketers that this is now the main source of information and influence.

We work with thousands of mums on a daily basis and they tell us that the internet is important but that their own friends and family are a far greater influence. MumPanel statistics that show 67 per cent of the MumPanel network still ask their own mum for help, advice and guidance.

On top of that, mums still regularly attend coffee mornings and child support groups and rely on their own local offline networks for advice and support. They’re also fantastic networkers at the playground gates. So we should not forget the importance of the good old mum network out and about and the increasing influence of the grandparent generation.

The value of tapping into the conversations that take place within these networks and starting the engagement process within the natural circle of mums is significant. This is where we find truly unhindered insight and where we can start to engage with mums most effectively.

An additional benefit of tapping into these mum networks is that we can connect with many mums who are normally hard to reach. These are usually friends of friends who would not ordinarily join a mum panel or participate in market research. Without these mums you can end up with a large number of career mum panelists, as well as higher proportion of more outspoken mums. While these are valid consumers, they do not always offer the profile required for every brand in the UK.

Translating mum insight into meaningful marketing strategy can, however, cause considerable difficulty. Results, whether they are quantitative statistics or qualitative opinions, are only as good as your analysis or interpretation of them. Data can easily be misinterpreted and achieve a completely devastating outcome.

Getting this part of the process right is the real challenge. A good marketing strategy should retain customer centricity, while generating impressive sales or services. To ensure data is transferred into meaningful strategy, we advocate that sense checking continues throughout the development process, from new product development to marketing communications, where the customer or audience is involved from end to end and not just at the start and end.

And you’ve got to know your audience. Having full understanding of, and empathy for, our audience gets us an awful lot closer to the customer-centric strategy that delivers true consumer engagement and satisfaction – not to mention increased brand loyalty and a much improved bottom line.

By Lynne Barcoe at MumPanel

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