Making The Connection
Whether she is buying a new van, shampoo, or a loaf of bread, a mom's purchase is usually influenced by emotional drivers that contribute to the decision-making process. The challenge for marketers seeking to make the so-called "Mom Connection" is breaking through the noise of competitive messages, not to mention communication forms that have replaced the phone trees and snail mail of just a few years ago such as mommy blogs, PTA groups on Facebook and incessant texting.
Creating relevant products and successfully marketing to moms require recognition of the emotional drivers that motivate moms to make the purchasing and other decisions designed to help their families operate at peak efficiency. Based on existing psychological literature and thousands of interviews and surveys with moms, four key emotional drivers are at play:
- Survival Mom is responsible for keeping everyone fed, functioning and meeting appropriate milestones. Recently, due to the recession, she has had to do it with more limited resources. Products and messaging successfully tap into this driver when they make her feel she is stretching her dollar by using coupons, eliminating waste through the purchase of recyclable materials, and leaving a green world for her children to inherit.
Target taps into this driver through a commercial showing a harried but playful mom who keeps herself balanced and her kids happy without emptying her wallet or indulging in excessive purchasing. In several minimalist miracles, Oreos become toys; granola bars turn into dance lessons, and Suave shampoo transforms into a fountain of youth in a bottle that "keeps her hair smoking hot." Target is telling moms that with the right retailer, they can still have it all for their families without going crazy (or overdrawing their accounts).
- Teaching Having kept everyone alive for another day, mom's core responsibility is teaching her kids how to be successful grown-ups. She is a role model for her children's social skills, self-sufficiency and self-worth. The products she chooses to buy demonstrate her values to her children. At the same time, she wants to show them how to make smart consumer choices. She may choose, for example, to shop at a store that donates to local schools and to fill her cart with products that do the same to set an example for her kids.
Nestlé's Stouffer's brand successfully captured this spirit with its "Let's Fix Dinner" campaign, which outlined how myriad potential social problems that could be avoided by spending time with family at the dinner table. The promotion cites research that indicates that consistently eating as a family helps promote good grades, reduces eating disorders in adolescent girls, lowers the risk of alcohol and drug use in teens and lowers obesity rates. All of these benefits to help raise emotionally healthy kids through meals at the family table - hopefully, a meal from Stouffer's.
- Bonding First-time moms in America are the oldest in the world due to the fact that American moms have been delaying parenthood until they have had more life experience and resources to share with their families. Millennial moms also truly enjoy hanging out with their children. Products that allow moms and kids to share a genuinely enjoyable experience together tap into this driver -- whether it's a family-friendly video game played together or a text-enabled cell phone that keeps everyone in touch tap into this driver.
Panasonic's Living in HD campaign showed consumers that its line of technology could reunite the overworked and alienated American family around a common bonding experience like watching television, sharing photos, or making family videos. The effort was anchored in the singular emotional appeal of connection, hooking the heartstrings of the moms who live in a highly technological world but want to stay intimately bonded to their families.
- Heroism Rarely does a mom hear the words "Thank you" for all she does. Making decisions to create the feeling that those magic words are being expressed on some level is the ultimate reward. She genuinely enjoys providing things that please her children and give her "street cred" among other moms. It can be something as simple as family taco night, where everyone gets exactly the type of taco they want, to landing the hottest concert tickets nobody else on the block can get.
In one of last year's back-to-school Wal-Mart ads, a mom economically outfits her son's new college dorm with the things he needs and the things he wants. "We were able to get it all, and then some," the mom says in a voiceover as she hands her son a framed portrait of the two of them together. The face that he doesn't roll his eyes at the sentiment is a small gift in itself - he even shows it to one of his new classmates. The campaign reaffirms to mom that with the right retailer, she can make her children proud, cementing her role as the family hero.
When marketers refine their messages to address even one of these emotional drivers, their success in reaching out to the mom market accelerates. Better yet, when they hit multiple drivers, they can succeed with moms in every category. If they miss the mark and fail to hit any of them, there is no doubt that the product or message will fall flat with mom shoppers.