Commentary

Millennial Moms Blend Real World, Digital Chats Around Brands

It may not surprise you to hear that from 2008 to 2015, Millennial moms’ conversations about brands increased online and decreased face-to-face. What’s intriguing, however, is how small the change has been. Seventy percent of those conversations are still F2F, down from 75%. Voice calls? That’s more a grandma thing, and declining. But while digital conversations — not only in social media but also through texting — more than doubled from 6% to 14% among moms 18 to 34, it’s critical to put it all in perspective.

“Consumers — and I think that the young moms are at the lead edge of this — are in a very fluid life where they blend naturally their real world and their digital worlds,” says Ed Keller, CEO of Keller Fay Group and president of Engagement Labs, who conducted the analysis. “The idea that somehow they have to be in one camp or another is out of sync with the way they lead their lives,” he says.

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Mothers often get together with other families and chat with each other during their kids’ play dates, not to mention that many are also active in social circles in their workplaces. And in about a quarter of these face-to-face conversations they are chatting about brands they see on digital media.

“You’re sitting and talking face to face — whether at lunch, a play date, at work, wherever — and out comes the mobile phone. The next thing you know, you’re sharing and talking about things. This, to us, is further evidence of the easy blending of our real-world lives and our digital lives,” Keller says.

In terms of categories, young moms are talking less about children’s products (-2%) and more about technology (+25%) and media and entertainment (+12%), Keller says. They may be discussing what their kids are doing on their own phones or tablets, or what entertainment products are worthwhile. Neither Apple, the No. 2 most-talked-about brand, nor Samsung, No. 3, were in the Top 10 five years ago, in fact.

Amazon Up; Pampers Down
Walmart has held steady at No. 1 during that time, but Amazon is the biggest gainer, following by Facebook. The biggest losers were BlackBerry, JuicyJuice, Mary Kay, Cricket Wireless and Nickelodeon. Pampers was the No. 10 most-talked-about brand through 2010; in 2015, it was No. 45. Huggies are down as well, Keller points out. Moving into hypothesis mode, he sees a connection between the rise of Amazon and the decline of those diaper brands as grist for discussion.

“If the purpose of conversation is ‘how do I make my life easier, better, more productive,' Amazon has become the conversation,” he says. “And if I can now be buying my everyday products, including my diapers, through Amazon, and they make that easy to do, that’s what’s worth talking about, that’s what’s worth sharing your experience with another mom.”

Amazon has created a lot of reasons moms might want to talk about it, such as automatic repeat ordering. Pampers, not so much.

Customer ratings and reviews are also a “key piece of” those online conversations, Keller allows. There are, in fact, more than 5,000 reviews, a 4.5 rating and 77 answered questions for Pampers’ Swaddlers Diapers Size 3 Economy Pack alone. But as quickly as Amazon is rising, Walmart is still the-most-discussed brand and Target is No. 5, having slipped from No. 3.

“It’s not as if that piece of the shopping experience has disappeared completely,” Keller points out.

And, of course, both of those brick-and-mortar retailers are continually beefing up their online interactions. Keller’s overarching message to brands is that they, too, need to live a blended existence, making their stories sharable in “people’s real-world lives” as well as social media.

As the same time, marketers must be very mindful of how they do this. A Nielsen/Harris Poll study released this morning finds 74% of Millennial (20-39) and Gen Z (16-19) consumers object to being targeted by brands in their social media feeds. Indeed, 56% report cutting back or ending their use of social media sites because of advertisements.

Other interesting factoids from the study, which was commissioned by Lithium Technologies and included 2,000 consumers from Gen Z to the Baby Boomer generation, are that 79% of Millennials expect a response from companies within the same day -- compared to 73% for Gex X and 71% for Boomers. And 40% of the digitally native Gen Z and Millennials trust celebrity endorsements, compared to 28% of Gen X and Boomers.

The study did not differentiate between “real-world” celebrities such as the Kardashians and homegrown social-media “influencers” such as PewDiePie. Stay tuned. We’ll be taking a look at a new social media platform that matches brands with influencers, and influencers with brands, next week.

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