Parenting Study Gives Birth to New Media Strategy: No Media

Marketers who want to reach new mothers need to get in with their doctors and her friends if they want to have real impact. And don't waste your time with broadcast media.

That's according to a new study released yesterday by First Moments, a division of Time Inc.'s Parenting Group. The proprietary "Why You Buy" study, conducted entirely online amongst members of the company's Mom Connection network (a nationally representative online panel of moms) was developed to examine what influences these women's shopping habits.

Many of the findings won't be a huge surprise to those ingrained in the unique new-parent market. "This affirmed what we know," said Cheryl Wilbur, director of research and brand development for Time Inc.'s Parenting Group. "It better quantified it."

Of course, the study comes out in favor of product sampling via medical professionals, which is a big part of First Moment's business.

Still, the research provides some insight into the nature of the relationship new moms have with professionals, their friends and family, and brands that try to reach them.

When it comes to whom they seek advice from, 'other moms' ranked highest in the survey, cited by 77 percent of respondents. Healthcare providers were next at 69 percent, and mothers or mothers-in-law were listed by 62 percent of respondents.

Interestingly, healthcare providers do not necessarily have to be doctors, but almost anyone associated with doctors, Wilbur said. "You get a sense of how strong the medical channel is from this study," she mentioned.

The medical channel extends beyond just face time with the family pediatrician, but the entire doctor's office experience. The study found that there was little difference in mom's opinions on the advice and product endorsement provided by nurses, medical assistants, and even receptionists.

"So minimal as to not even be significant," said Wilbur of the differences in ranking. "There is a tremendous effect that goes with feeling all the trust [moms] feel when going into the doctor's office. It was surprising that it was that strong."

While visiting the doctor, sample and coupons are what moms look for. Over 90 percent of the demographic reported that their purchasing decisions are significantly influenced by samples and coupons received in a doctor's office.

In general, moms' media consumption is very information driven, and broadcast media does not do a great job of providing useful content, according to the study. Both TV and radio were cited by just 5 percent of respondents as sources of information.

Instead, moms are turning to those who share their experience and trade product advice. "Beyond the emotional thing, there is a very practical, almost mercenary aspect to suggestions of products [among mothers]," said Wilbur. "If you sit with moms on the playground, so much of their conversation is 'what is that bottle?'"

Wilbur also cited magazines, direct marketing, and the Internet as key means of reaching this market. "It's about partnering and knowing the consumer," she said.

Among the study's other findings:

-Moms-to-be begin to stock up on many of their baby products and gear in their third trimester (74 percent)

-Boomer moms are more likely to use coupons than their Gen Y and Gen X counterparts, and boomers are more trusting of brands than younger moms.

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