Effective brands possess seven key habits which resonate strongly with mums, according to the latest research from Mumsnet and Saatchi & Saatchi, which shines a light on the market leading brands that promote these characteristics.
Here Marketing Week considers four key takeaways for marketers aiming to build their relationship with mums.
1. Brands that share habits with mums will succeed
The brands that achieve the closest affinity with mums are the ones who share the same habits as modern mothers, meaning they are able to seamlessly pre-empt their needs.
“When we’re talking about attentiveness for mum, it’s about pre-empting and being so in tune with your kids that you think about what they need before they need it,” explains Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton.
“Those brands that understand the mum mindset can be the eyes in the back of her head, understanding and trying to pre-empt what she might need. Marketing for mums is about understanding them and giving them products that make their lives a bit easier. These habits resonate with mums because they recognise them in themselves.”
Much like mums, the National Trust sees itself as taking on the role of enabler and helping parents feel like superheroes.
“It’s about the children having fun and the parents looking and feeling like ‘superhero parents’ because they’re out and about learning and having fun as a family,” explains Mark Scott, marketing agency director, National Trust.
“Our campaign ’50 things to do before your 11¾’ focuses very much on natural play and engaging with the nature around us. It’s the children, and very occasionally their parents, who decide what they do on their terms.”
Scott explains that increasingly the National Trust is approaching things from an audience-first perspective, especially in the way it communicates with families. The focus has been on fusing together these audience insights with its own brand values and objectives to deliver a relevant and inspirational experience for mums.
“I think it’s a continuing journey for us, but we place great value on the ‘realness’ of our offer and telling the stories of our places through the voices of our people,” says Scott.
“Mums are some of our greatest advocates, so delivering against a brand expectation is something that we constantly strive to do. It’s important that the pillars of our brand are experienced consistently, but we don’t want a homogenised product where everything is the same. I think what we do well is authenticity – it’s not forced, it’s genuine and it’s something that people can take back into their own lives.”
2. Live your values from the inside out
Building a company culture that supports the brand’s values helps mums feel a sense of confidence that it will be able to deliver for them on every occasion, and across every touchpoint.
A key example of this approach is Disney, which calls every member of its team a ‘cast member’, responsible for creating stories for the customer.
“Our learning and development team have a brilliant programme that focuses on the brand values,” explains Anna Hill, CMO of Disney UK & Ireland.
“We have immersive sessions and every cast member is trained to be a brand manager. We have a really great, positive team, because they love the brand. We do lots of things to motivate cast members, whether that’s regular screenings of our movies, staff discounts at theme parks and on products, and lots of workshops on development topics.”
It is Disney’s policy of only hiring “believers” that makes the business stand out for Saatchi & Saatchi global planning director, Liz Wolstenholme.
“It only hires people who are Disney fans and during the recruitment process it actually casts people like you would cast for a film. Having that belief and faith is so strong that it makes them want to spread the word themselves. So you have an army of advocates within your own business.”
Hill talks about the ‘Disney Difference’, which she explains describes the way the team strives to be a brand mums can trust, as well as one which will make her life easier. She cites the DisneyLife streaming service as an example of Disney collating all its films, TV shows, music and books in one easy to access location for mums.
“When it comes to your children and your family, more than anything as a mum, you want to make them happy. We can help make that happen,” Hill adds.
At Warbutons, being a family business means promoting its family values, which are as relevant today as they were when the company began baking over 140 years’ ago, in the opinion of head of marketing communications, Jane McMillan.
“As a family business we pride ourselves on being a brand which real families can relate to,” she states.
“We are committed to providing our consumers with a wide range of high quality bakery products they can trust. This is an essential part of our brand integrity and something that we have been determined to maintain ever since Thomas and Ellen Warburton sold their very first loaf all those years ago.”
3. Be generous and confident
For mums, one of the biggest attributes a brand can have is confidence, according to the study. This sense of knowing your brand inside out and believing in the authenticity of the message helps transfer that sense of confidence onto mums.
“We talk about authenticity with confidence and sometimes we’ve lost the ability to show off and say ‘I’m proud of what I’ve done’. If you’re exhibiting that confidence it instills more confidence in mums, but it’s got to be based on authenticity,” argues Mumsnet’s Carrie Longton.
Alongside confidence, the research shows it is crucial for brands to exceed expectations in order to offer mums added value that makes a practical difference to their lives.
Wolstenholme highlights the way Warburtons goes above and beyond to give mums something extra, so that instead of simply adding recipe suggestions to its website the team actually develops its products with mums’ needs in mind.
“Warburtons actually build that approach in from the outset, so when they’re thinking up new products they think of things like pockets or square wraps that are designed to be flexible, because they know that’s what mums need,” she adds.
4. Switch up your priorities
Precision – one of the key habits outlined in the research – emerged as the most important for mums, knocking showmanship, sorcery and integrity out of contention.
Brands’ ability to be direct and clear in their proposition, while at the same time adopting a streamlined mentality, is a major plus point for mums.
Saatchi & Saatchi’s Liz Wolstenholme believes this finding should encourage marketers to prioritise and hero other aspects of their marketing, such as deals or savings, that might otherwise have been considered more of a tactical part of the plan.
“Precision is the most important habit, but as a brand its not something you might necessarily think to emphasise from a communication point of view,” says Wolstenholme.
“But actually, those things should be put front and centre. This is what mums want and it is a very valuable thing to do. So it’s about elevating the things you wouldn’t normally elevate and putting those tactical stories front and centre.”
Of the 10 brands examined in the study, EasyJet scored highest for its precision. This habit is central to the company ethos of eliminating complexity and added cost by scrutinising every aspect of the operation and keeping the business structure simple.
Customer director Ian Cairns has set up his team to appreciate that mums are looking for a simple and seamless experience, particularly as they are travelling with the most important thing in their lives – their baby or child – which adds another layer of emotional intensity.
“It’s important that we’re not just operationally efficient, but we show those little things like smiling and offering a friendly helping hand with a bag, or looking after a toddler for 10 seconds while they get their seatbelt sorted. It’s those little touches that mums like about our crew,” says Cairns.
Getting the basics right has a big impact on mums, which is why EasyJet strives to make sure its planes leave on time, that they’re clean, that its website and the app helps people get through a complicated airport.
Cairns believes the diversity of the EasyJet team is a crucial element. The emphasis is on hiring for attitude and energy, taking people from a range of backgrounds rather than focusing purely on experience.
“We’re quite a diverse bunch. In the commercial team, for example, you have me who used to work at an ad agency, we’ve got people who used to work in banks, the car sector, consultancies or fast food companies,” Cairns adds.
“This diversity brings with it quite a lot of external insight and the ability to ask those big, awkward questions that can sometimes help simplify a process.”