How the internet tastes of “real mums”’ are evolving

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UK mums’ online behaviours are evolving. Microsoft Advertising’s head of new research, data and analytics Julie Forey explains

When Microsoft Advertising first surveyed the UK’s mums back in 2008, we found that the web played a key role in their lives, whether this was helping to manage family life, providing personal fulfillment and entertainment, or enabling communication with friends and family.

Talking to online mums again in 2010, it’s clear that the web still does all those things – but has become far more ingrained within their everyday lives. Based on a sample of over 800 UK mums and pregnant women with internet access, the new findings present some important insights for brands wishing to communicate with this high value market.

New technology

Mums are ’savvy adopters’, unafraid to try out new technology to help them juggle their busy lives. In fact, one in four mums now goes online using their phone at least once a week – a significant increase from one in 20 in 2008, signifying a substantial transformation in the mobile space and a clear opportunity for mobile advertisers to communicate with this group.

In addition, ownership of home wireless networks has almost doubled since 2008 from 28% to 46%. This speedy adoption has gone hand in hand with laptop adoption, meaning mums watching TV at the same time as going online is now a common behavior, with 72% of mums surveyed combining these activities. Advertisers therefore need to ensure that their online and offline communication is clearly integrated when communicating with UK mums.

Entertainment and indulgence

More mums are finding new technology frees them up to spend more ’me-time’ online in the evenings with 64% saying they go online after 8pm. One mother explained her evening routine: “I will open a bottle of wine, paint my toenails and go online.”

The web is becoming increasingly important as a source of entertainment for some mums, as it’s quick, convenient and freely available. Private viewing enables mums to create an entertainment schedule that fits around their lives, with 56% of mums keeping in touch with their favourite shows through catch-up TV, and 63% of mums watching video clips online. Online entertainment can replicate the gossip shared in the office, like a ’web watercooler’ moment; 38% of mums visit women’s lifestyle sites, and 51% turn to the web for their fix of celeb gossip.

Shopping

The internet is becoming a popular alternative to the weekly shopping run, with 61% having bought their grocery shop online, 66% using the internet to buy things for the baby and 51% having bought household items too.

At the same time, mums have become more savvy, using price comparison sites and seeking out online discount vouchers. Today’s mums are bargain hunters, with 64% reading consumer reviews and 48% using price comparison websites. 41% of online mums now read expert reviews, a figure which has crept up from 36% in the past two years.

But online shopping isn’t just for the family – mums also go online for personal fulfillment, indulging themselves with window or actual shopping for clothes, health and beauty and other products. A whopping 82% of the mums we surveyed shop online to buy clothes, and 36% buy jewellery online.

Here are our five pointers for engaging online mums:

1. Message needs to be clear and simple
2. Price/offer focus can help prompt action
3. Emotional and financial rewards are both valid motivators
4. Precision target for maximum effect
5. Complement digital campaigns with other platforms, like TV

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