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Moms demand life-easing value from ads

If you're trying to sell the average mom on a product that's geared to her child, it might be time to reassess your ad copy and your media spending strategy. Maria Bailey, author of Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Piece of the Trillion Dollar Market, surveyed more than 600 mothers ages 22 to 46 last year to find out what kinds of marketing is hitting home with this demo. And the verdict is that a lot of advertisers are probably missing the mark. Bailey's report finds that 50% of mothers feel that ads targeting them don't recognize or acknowledge their needs. '50% of US$1.6 trillion - that's a lot of money to leave on the table,' she notes.
January 1, 2005

If you’re trying to sell the average mom on a product that’s geared to her child, it might be time to reassess your ad copy and your media spending strategy. Maria Bailey, author of Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Piece of the Trillion Dollar Market, surveyed more than 600 mothers ages 22 to 46 last year to find out what kinds of marketing is hitting home with this demo. And the verdict is that a lot of advertisers are probably missing the mark. Bailey’s report finds that 50% of mothers feel that ads targeting them don’t recognize or acknowledge their needs. ’50% of US$1.6 trillion – that’s a lot of money to leave on the table,’ she notes.

The key to reaching today’s mothers, says Bailey, is shifting the message’s focus away from highlighting a product’s features to concentrate instead on the benefits mom can expect to glean from it. ‘My research showed that 70% of moms are likely to buy from a company that provides them with useful information,’ says Bailey. So while ads for car seats have traditionally emphasized how comfortable they are for children to ride in, it might be worthwhile to add the seats only weigh three pounds, which makes them easier for mom to tote.

But changing the message to connect with mom’s desire for personal advantages is only the first step. Bailey says advertisers must also rethink where they’re spending their ad dollars, especially when it comes to on-line. Although 71% of mothers say they’re likely to use the Internet to tap into data about products, advice and general information, they rely much more heavily on the medium to help them manage their lives. Using the web to pay bills, grocery shop and make plans with friends and relatives has made it an essential organizational tool for both working and stay-at-home moms.

In particular, moms are opening and reading their e-mail everyday and all day long, says Kevin Burke, strategy director at Allentown, New Jersey-based research firm Lucid Marketing. A joint study conducted in October 2004 by Lucid and Maria Bailey’s BSM Media showed that 50% of moms would pick e-mail if they were stranded on a remote island and could only have access to one form of communication. ‘Phone was instinctively their first answer,’ says Burke. ‘But then they reconsidered in light of all of the things e-mail can do, what with messages, pictures, video, etc.’

This kind of heavy and persistent usage makes e-mail a really cost-effective, two-way communication tool for speaking to moms, but it’s important to harness its power in a connective way. E-mails that simply send a promotional message about sales or free shipping can get old pretty quick with mom. ‘After a while, she starts to feel the company doesn’t understand what she wants to receive,’ says Burke.

It’s also important to differentiate your messages from spam. Burke recommends always starting off by thanking mom by name for having signed up to receive your info, and from there, he suggests centering the e-mail around a point of relevance that impacts the health and well-being of what’s most important to her – her family. So, for example, a baby product manufacturer might send out a developmental chart for babies in weekly installments that correspond with how old the targeted new mother’s wee one is.

Similarly, smart food marketers who really understand their target demo know that 60% of moms still don’t know what they’re going to make for dinner at 4 p.m. ‘That’s the perfect time of day to deliver your message,’ says Burke. So a merchant could send out an e-mail blast in the afternoon containing nutritional information about one of their products and some quick meal recipes designed to make it easier for mom to put a healthy dinner on the table.

Many of these marketing-to-mom fundamentals should be applied just as vigilantly to print advertising, since BSM Media’s study showed that only 20% of mothers think magazine and newspaper ads speak to them effectively. Bailey says there’s a revolution going on with magazine ads, and the once-clear line between editorial and advertorial is starting to look a little more gray. As long as it’s credible, she says women don’t mind reading advertorial content; in fact, they almost expect to see some. Again, it’s about getting the benefits of a product across.

Bailey’s study showed that 64% of moms rely on recommendations from family and friends when making purchases for their child. With celebrity endorsements ranking low on mom’s radar, she suggests hiring an everyday spokesperson to write content and advice. ‘We’re not saying you’ve got to hire Katie Couric to deliver your message; there are normal, everyday women out there with audiences of five to six million on-line,’ she says.

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