The seven characteristics of brands mums love

New research from Mumsnet and Saatchi & Saatchi reveals the brands that are winning the loyalty and trust of modern mothers and what makes them resonate.

Brands that keep their proposition simple and prioritise being confident, authentic and generous have the greatest affinity with mums, according to the latest research from Mumsnet and Saatchi & Saatchi.

The research suggests highly effective brands possess seven key habits which resonate strongly with mums, because “mum-centricity” is inherent in their brand DNA. Six-months in the development, the research analyses the best practice methods adopted by 10 market leading brands.

“We’ve spent the past three years telling brands they’re not doing it right for mums, so we thought we’d flip it round and look at what brands are doing right,” explains Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton who will be discussing the findings at the annual Mumstock conference today (26 April).

“If you are a highly effective brand and you have a formula going on, the habits are really engrained in you and mums are responding to it. You need to hire people that are on the same page as you and are prepared to innovate within the parameters of what you’re trying to do. If you’re not one of the highly effective brands, you might need to bring people in to shake you up a little bit.”

Saatchi & Saatchi asked Mumsnet consumer panels to discuss the different brands they love and from this list selected 10 brands with an exemplary record of effectiveness and commercial success.

The 10 brands are Disney, EasyJet, Ella’s Kitchen, Ikea, John Lewis, Lego, Lidl, Lush, National Trust and Warburtons.

READ MORE: Why mums are drawn to brands like Disney, Warburtons and EasyJet

With the list finalised, Saatchi & Saatchi then conducted 10 90-minute focus groups around the UK asking 60 mums the habits that matter most to them. The team also conducted in-depth interviews with marketers working at the 10 highly effective brands in order to better understand how these habits contribute to effectiveness.

For the final stage, Saatchi & Saatchi partnered with Ipsos Mori to measure the habits of each brand through an online survey of 1,000 British mums with children aged 0-17 (conducted from 14 to 17 February 2017).

Based on quantitive and qualitative research, Saatchi & Saatchi has identified seven habits, which each of the 10 highly effective brands possess.

Here we outline the seven habits, brands that portray these characteristics and what it means for marketers.



As time is always a pressure for mums they often feel an affinity towards brands that help them shave off the extra seconds to make things run like clockwork. These brands are hard wired to find the most efficient ways to hit the bullseye.

“For mums, one thing we learn early on is you have to be precise and shave time as every second counts. Mums will naturally gravitate to brands that save them that extra second and make everything seamless,” Wolstenholme says.

The behaviour exhibited by brands that perform well in this sector is being really clear, precise and direct, which comes from a streamlining mentality, which is often driven by the business imperative.

Importance to mums: 37.9%

Brands scoring highly in this category: EasyJet, Ikea, Lidl

Sector that performs best: Technology


As mums regularly need to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the eleventh hour, they appreciate brands that can help them manage this challenging aspect of motherhood. Gifting generously, feeding the senses and making mums part of the story are essential elements of this habit.

“Mums are drawn to brands that work their magic effortlessly to entertain their children,” explains Liz Wolstenholme, global planning director at Saatchi & Saatchi.

“It’s not a ‘better than’ mentality, it’s ‘best possible’. These brands want to go to the best possible level. It’s about being generous and over delivering.”

What drives these brands is a real faith in the founding principles of the business, says Wolstenholme, a belief so strong that it motivates employees to spread the word.

Importance to mums: 17.5%

Brands scoring highly in this category: Disney, Lush and Lego

Sector that performs best: Toys and entertainment


Mums are natural gymnasts who need to stretch time and budgets, striving to squeeze as many hours as possible out of the day. This means they need brands that can work around their busy schedules and flex when they need them to flex.

Therefore to meet this need brands must build elasticity into their structure from the top down, as well as into the relationships they create with retailers and suppliers.

“This is about the habit of acting in an elastic way and it’s driven deeper in a business which is wired to think elastically,” says Wolstenholme. “This idea is that the whole business thinks and is structured in a much more flexible way.”

Importance to mums: 33.2%

Brands scoring highly in this category: Ikea, Ella’s Kitchen, Lego, Lidl

Sector that performs best: Financial services


With mums under constant pressure to do the right thing and help her child feel confident at every opportunity, brands that reflect confidence and position themselves as leaders instill that same confidence in mums.

Crucially, however, confidence only works for brands that have a genuine belief in their business.

“The brand habit of always acting like a true performer is driven by a genuine belief in the integrity of their business. They are so motivated by what they do that they want to share it in the best possible light. That pride manifests itself in showmanship,” Wolstenholme explains.

The research suggests that, if done with sensitivity and authenticity, putting your brand on a pedestal can be the right move.

Importance to mums: 33.4%

Brands scoring highly in this category: Lego, Disney, Lush

Sector that performs best: Toys and entertainment 


Mums often describe themselves as butlers who need to serve their children and pre-empt their needs. This is where brands come in, operating like eyes in the back of their heads, so they have the time and space to look after their children.

These brands typically prioritise employee loyalty, as they know that by getting this right everything else will follow. Having employees who understand mums makes pre-empting their needs far easier, says Wolstenholme.

“It’s a sixth sense they’ve developed, they just know what’s right for mums and what isn’t. They’ve listened and absorbed so much that understanding mums has become habitual for them,” she adds.

“These brands look for patterns as opposed to asking questions, and through observation or mining the data the emerging patterns answer the questions you never thought to ask.”

Importance to mums: 35.4%

Brands scoring highly in this category: John Lewis, Lush, Ella’s Kitchen, Ikea

Sector that performs best: Health and beauty


These brands are true to what they believe in as a business, which in turn helps mums fulfil their desire to be their true selves when around their children. This habit refers to the brands that help mums feel comfortable and present a non-judgemental take on the world.

Presenting the brand story to mums is the best way to help them engage and understand the integrity of the brand, says Wolstenholme.

“With brand stories you’d normally put a page on your website or a bit of blurb on your pack, but actually any brand with any kind of story should be shouting about it,” she advises.

“This belief you need to have a 150-year heritage isn’t what matters to mum, what matters is that their values are visible. Even new brands should be celebrating that story. It’s better to smash that fourth wall than hide away.”

Importance to mums: 26.8%

Brands scoring highly in this category: National Trust, Lush, John Lewis

Sector that performs best: Food and drink


As mums have to play the coach for their kids they tend to gravitate towards brands that support their life, executing with passion and a clear focus on empowerment. Wolstenholme argues that this passion and drive has to start with the employees.

“It’s so important to have people internally who want to follow through on the brand story and have a very clear, crystallised end goal,” she notes.

“There’s this assumption that mum brands shouldn’t be preaching to mums, but actually if the company is driven by passion and shares the end goal with mum then this [advice] is encouraged.”

Importance to mums: 34.3%

Brands scoring highly in this category: Disney, Lush, Lego

Sector that performs best: Technology 



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