John Lewis is mums’ favourite brand

Waitrose second in Mumsnet’s ranking, followed by Amazon, Apple and M&S.

John Lewis kitchen

Above: John Lewis works hard to appeal to mums directly

The John Lewis Partnership claims the top two spots in the first-ever Mumsnet ranking of the most popular brands among mothers, seen exclusively by Marketing Week.

While John Lewis comes top and Waitrose is second, the list also reveals that mums are big fans of technology products and classic food brands such as Cadbury.

The ranking is taken from a survey of 1,000 Mumsnet users between November 2013 and January 2014. Respondents were initially asked to name the brands they most favour, allowing spontaneous responses. Mumsnet then drew up a list of the 14 most named brands and asked users to rank their final top five from this list. Average scores were attributed to each brand to decide the final ranking.

The list is striking for its similarity to other surveys taken among the wider population. Five of the brands that appeared in last month’s Superbrands Top 20 make it into the Mumsnet ranking, including Apple, Amazon and Heinz. It is also notable that only two of the brands in the Mumsnet list have explicit links to parenting: toy brand Lego and family-friendly clothing retailer Boden.

“It shows that mums are women who happen to be parents, rather than the other way round,” suggests Helen Rowley, head of brand partnerships and insight at Mumsnet.

Retailers dominate

This outlook means there are several interesting omissions from the Mumsnet ranking. There are no Procter & Gamble brands in the list, for example, despite the company’s focus on pushing products such as Pampers and Fairy Liquid to mothers.

The omission is particularly notable given the praise heaped on P&G’s ‘Thank You Mum’ campaign during the London 2012 Olympics and its decision to revive the campaign for the recent Sochi Winter Olympics.

“Mums’ views aren’t necessarily informed by the fact they’re parents,” adds Rowley. “So the list is not full of baby brands or parenting-related brands.”

“My John Lewis gives new mums in particular a tight edit of what we think they need”

John Lewis is a particularly popular choice. The department store chain frequently tops brand rankings and was last year named the most popular brand in Britain in research by advertising agency McCann London.

Despite its broad appeal John Lewis is also working hard to appeal to mothers directly. This is not surprising, given that mothers accounts for the vast majority of purchase decisions in households.

“Mumsnet members are rightly picky about brands,” says Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis. She argues that the brand’s success in the Mumsnet survey is reward for its efforts in engaging mothers at a deeper level.

My John Lewis

Late last year, for example, the company launched its ‘my John Lewis’ loyalty scheme following a trial with customers in its children’s nursery section. The retailer is now rolling the scheme out to all customers nationwide, but has continued to look at how it can offer particular benefits and recommendations to mothers.

“Our customers have busy lives and a huge amount of choice about where they spend their money, so activity through my John Lewis has been focused on giving new mums in particular a really tight edit of what we think they need, to make this special time in their lives as hassle-free as possible,” Swift says.

The Mumsnet research also shows the extent to which mums value convenience and services that make their lives easier.

In addition to the ranking, Mumsnet users were asked to rate each brand according to six criteria including quality of products, customer service and reliability. John Lewis again comes top, achieving an average of 86 per cent positive responses across the criteria.

Mumsnet has released the research as part of its build up to Mumstock 2014: a one-day conference in London on 23 April. Marketing Week editor Ruth Mortimer is due to speak at the event, which will consider how brands can harness insights to better engage with mums.

Clothing retailer Boden, which comes 11th in the Mumsnet ranking, seeks to build strong relationships with mothers through its emphasis on quality and its depiction of joyful family experiences. The company caters to the whole family by devoting equal attention to its women’s wear, menswear, children’s wear and baby wear lines.

Boden Ice Crean
Boden ‘encourages children to explore the great outdoors’ says global brand director Penny Herriman

“The brand encourages children to behave like children,” says Boden global brand director Penny Herriman. “If you look at a lot of our brand imagery it’s all about the great outdoors and allowing children to explore and use their imagination. That idea of childhood is appealing to mums.”

Personalised catalogues

Boden’s sales in the UK are primarily split between its catalogue business and its ecommerce site, although the company is also seeking to engage mums on social media. To support the upcoming launch of a new children’s wear catalogue, for example, Boden is running a campaign on social media to encourage parents to create pictures with their children that could appear on the cover of their catalogues.

The brand has built a website for the campaign, named Boden by You, on which children can use a special drawing tool to create a personalised catalogue front cover.

Entries are displayed via an online gallery and on social media, and parents can register to receive a physical copy with their child’s design when the catalogue is released. Boden says it has received 15,000 designs to date.

“If we estimate that each cover takes 20 minutes on average, the activity has resulted in customers spending roughly an additional 200 days of time engaging with the brand,” notes Herriman.

Boden is one of several brands in the Mumsnet list with premium status and relatively high price points. Indeed, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s all feature in the ranking, rather than the likes of Asda, Morrisons or Aldi. High-end tech brands such as Apple and Samsung are also preferred to cheaper alternatives.

Average incomes

While this might suggest a disproportionate level of affluence within the Mumsnet audience, the site’s internal data shows that 39 per cent of users are in the £0-£30,000 household income bracket against 36 per cent in the £30,0000-£50,000 range and 24 per cent £50,000 and above.

The brand table suggests therefore that mums’ brand preferences are not wholly determined by cost and that aspiration and quality are significant factors too.

One brand with broad appeal across different demographics is Lego, which comes sixth in the ranking. The brand has succeeded at reinventing itself in recent years as an entertainment platform across multiple channels, rather than just a toy consisting of brightly coloured building blocks.

This diversification has proved popular with parents and children alike. Last month The Lego Movie recorded the UK’s biggest opening weekend of 2014 so far, taking £8m, and was top of the box office for three consecutive weeks.

Lego’s positive year continues with the revelation that it is the only brand aimed at children that makes it into Mumsnet’s ranking of the most popular brands among mums.

Mums’ favourite brands

1 John Lewis
2 Waitrose
4 Apple
5 M&S
6 Lego
7 Sainsbury’s
8 Cadbury
9 Ocado
10 Next
11 Boden
12 Tesco
13 Samsung
14 Heinz

Source: Mumsnet