With Moms Still Stressed Out, Marketers Must Tread Lightly


With their stress levels rising post-pandemic, pregnant women and mothers of young children want ads and other content directed at them to showcase real moms (65%), be relatable (63%), be educational and informational (61%), and be uplifting/positive (55%).

That’s according to a study of over 3,000 women conducted by Ziff Davis’ Everyday Health Group Pregnancy & Parenting (EHG P&P), which runs the BabyCenter and What to Expect platforms.

Michele Calhoun, EHG P&P’s global chief revenue officer, pointed to Unilever’s Baby Dove and Hearing First as advertisers already taking the kinds of approaches sought by parents. “They encourage supportive conversations that help parents navigate today's challenges and give their child the best start in life,” she told Marketing Daily. "Given the tremendous pressure and anxiety moms are experiencing, this type of constructive approach really resonates."



Hearing First partnered with BabyCenter and What to Expect to create and share targeted content based on a mom’s stage of pregnancy, while Baby Dove was part of a BabyCenter initiative to raise awareness about the importance of maternal and postpartum mental health issues that included sponsorship of a virtual roundtable and online content.

Back during Maternal Mental Health Month in May, BabyCenter said that 57% of its users had struggled with mental or emotional health issues over the previous year.

The problem may be getting worse. In EHG P&P’s new study of both pregnant women and mothers of kids up to eight years old, 68% of respondents reported suffering from anxiety in general. The numbers were worse for Gen Z, at 79%, with millennials coming in at 64%.

These generational differences also translate into what each group wants from ads, with 53% of Gen Z moms saying they desire messaging that brings them “peace of mind,” compared with 43% of millennial moms and just 31% of Gen X moms.

“We’d assumed mom would begin feeling less anxious as pandemic restrictions lifted, but these findings tell us a different story,” Christine Mattheis, EHG P&P’s vice president, editorial director, said in a press release. “Instead, moms are just as stressed out today as they were back in April 2020, with inflation, isolation, and the cost of raising a baby fueling their anxiety.”

Gen Z moms may just be setting their goals too high. While their younger age means they’re more likely than other generations to have a parental support system to help relieve their stress, EHG P&P says they have a “tendency to vigorously strive to meet parenting ideals. When asked to review 25 different parenting ideals – from ‘keeping the kids busy with activities’ to ‘maintaining a clean and tidy home’ – Gen Z moms consistently aspired to reach greater heights than their millennial counterparts.”

All this stress means that “moms are not in a place to respond well to overly prescriptive messaging,” stated Calhoun. Instead, she stressed, supportive and positive content can help marketers “be seen as true allies.” 

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