The (First) First Day of School: A Milestone For Mom - And An Opportunity For Marketers

When a woman becomes a mom, her life fills with “firsts”: first bath, first steps, first time sleeping through the night. While each first gives moms a reason to celebrate, many usher in a new set of challenges.

Even though my son is now 5 years old, I still have a lot of firsts ahead of me – like his (first) first day of school. The transition from preschool to kindergarten marks a new phase of life for my family. Goodbye, flexible schedule and off-peak vacations. Hello, homework and packed lunches. I’m excited for all the new experiences my son will have in his new school, but I’m already dreading the end of summer and the beginning of our new, more hectic reality.

As back-to-school promotions start popping up (earlier than ever, it seems), it makes me wonder: Do marketers really understand the complex range of emotions moms feel at this time of year? Here are a few things I’ve discovered along the way. Our research shows I’m not alone.



New challenges, without the old network

My son isn’t the only one who’s about to make dozens of new friends. I’ll be leaving his preschool community, and getting to know a whole new set of parents and teachers. That takes time – but I’m going to need support right away. How’s a full-time working mom like me supposed to manage pick-up and drop-off times? What can I pack my picky eater for lunch that he won’t throw away? Where’s the best place to buy school supplies?

As moms transition to a new school community, they rely more than ever on their trusted digital sources. I know I’ll be turning to online articles and social networks for advice. Research backs this up: 62% of moms with kids age 5 to 8 say they’re looking online for tips on how to "do it all." Marketers who provide the information moms need will become a trusted part of their new network.

On a tight schedule and always on the move

So moms are spending a lot of time on the desktop doing research – right? Wrong. Back-to-school is a period of intense activity, from carpools to after-school activities to play dates with new friends. The last place you’ll find Mom is sitting in front of her computer. Seventy-nine percent of moms with school-age children own a smartphone, and 70% of them say they prefer to access social networks with their handheld device. Optimize your communications for Mom’s mobile lifestyle, and you’ll be more likely to stay on her radar.

New habits present fresh opportunities – as long as the price is right

Along with everything else, my shopping list is about to change. I’ll be looking for school supplies, new soccer cleats, healthy and portable snacks, and so much more. As I browse brands, I’ll be looking for savings – and I’m not alone. Moms of 5- to 8-year-old kids are more likely to be price-sensitive than moms of younger kids. Fifty-nine percent have bought something because a coupon or other online offer was posted on social network, and 78% say they follow brands on social media specifically for these offers. So look for opportunities to build new relationships with moms, but make sure you give them an incentive to keep coming back.

Firsts are always a great time for marketers to connect with new customers. Whether you’re engaging with moms about to change their first diaper, or moms about to attend their first graduation, it’s important to understand their specific needs at that moment. If you get it right, you’ll get more than a new customer – you’ll earn her lasting loyalty and respect.

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