This proved to be a watershed year for recognition of the power of mom communications and marketing. What changed? Moms’ overwhelming embrace of social media and the profound impact of the recommendation culture on their consumer purchasing behavior. As this evolution took place, we saw a number of trends emerge in the mom marketplace through our research studies and work with mom influencers. As we enter 2012, here’s our Top 10 list of mom marketplace trends:
1. The New Brand Dis-loyal Mom:
With a stagnant economy and lingering concerns about a recovery, moms shifted long-held consumer habits in 2011. Families continued to make due with existing household goods, and when moms made purchases, they appeared open to exploring new brands—forgoing ones they added to their shopping carts for years. Clearly, brand loyalty appears to have lessened its hold on moms as 89% say they like to try new products and brands, and just 50% describe themselves as brand loyalists.
2. A New Openness Toward Personal Topics:
Traditionally, communicators and marketers have struggled to find moms willing to discuss personal topics openly. Yet this year we saw evidence that moms feel more comfortable addressing personal issues in social media forums—in fact, 75% of women report being willing to discuss health or medical issues on social networking sites. This new sense of openness encourages moms to seek information from other moms and share their experiences with millions of other women.
3. Economic Woes Spark Uptick in Couponing:
The nation’s economic woes continue to affect American families—from all walks of life—and increasingly motivate new purchasing behaviors. But while more and more moms rely on saving money via coupons, the success of a couponing promotion and its ability to convert new consumers into advocates relies on the brand’s ability to find moms’ tipping point. For most moms, coupons that save them more than 50% will inspire them to try an item they haven’t used previously.
4. Rise of the Online Recommendation Culture:
One of the biggest mom marketing trends centers around the rise of the online recommendation culture. Moms’ eager participation in social media translates into blogs, Facebook and Twitter becoming the new “picket fence,” where moms make connections, hear trusted recommendations and gain first-person perspective. And while we’ve always lived in a recommendation culture, in 2011 we saw how social media became the conduit for moms to develop a network of trusted advisers and tap into them for their experiences and insights. New research shows that 90% of moms trust products more after hearing about them from friends and 82% read product reviews online before buying a brand they haven’t tried yet.
5. Skepticism Grows Along With Moms’ Social Media Savvy:
While moms continue to incorporate social media into their lives in overwhelming numbers, they remain skeptical toward brands going through the social media motions. For example, a simple tweet won’t do it, as just 5% of moms believe tweets have a strong impact on their purchasing. Likewise, just 3% of moms say targeted ads on their social networks strongly motivate them to make a purchase. If brands use social media, moms want them to be fully engaged.
6. Emergence of Generation Mom:
Through a major research study issued this year by Mom Central Consulting, we saw the introduction of Generation Mom. This research showed that once a woman becomes a member of Generation Mom, she finds herself most closely linked with moms of all generations. Moreover, being a mom transcends both generation and age of children. Regardless of whether a mom fits into the Boomer, Gen X or Gen Y category, certain universal truths emerge about her beliefs on topics ranging from parenting to social media usage to purchasing behaviors.
7. Mom-ization of Mobile:
2011 may be remembered as the year when apps—for smartphones and tablets alike—exploded into the mainstream of moms’ increasingly busy lives. Most moms pepper their smartphones with apps—51% of moms have downloaded 16+ apps, and 43% say they have three to five apps they only used once. Moms also have their favorite app categories—with 82% downloading social media apps, 80% favoring games and 79% downloading entertainment apps. Moreover, 59% of moms say cost remains the most important factor in app selection.
8. Recognition of Similarities Among Moms:
In 2011, we saw marketers gaining a better understanding of the commonalities that exist among moms—regardless of whether a mom stays at home with her kids or works outside of her home. Brands increasingly develop products that address issues faced by all moms—time constraints, organizational challenges, etc.—and moms then respond to these themes, based on their own situation. For example, one mom may head to the freezer section at the end of the day to pick up a quick dinner because she spent her day shuttling kids to activities and doctor appointments, while another mom may do the same because she left the office later than expected.
9. Home & Hearth Reigns:
Interest and engagement continues in all things related to home décor—80% of moms surveyed read magazines, 68% turn to TV shows and 43% read design blogs. But, as in many areas, the economic situation continues to make an impact. More and more DIY work takes place during home renovations—86% for smaller jobs like shelf installation or painting; 58% for bigger jobs such as plumbing or electrical work—and 75% of moms say they’ll spend less this year on home décor and renovations.
10. Technology Spawns New Parenting Challenges:
Even though 74% of moms let their children regularly play on their smartphone and increasingly rely on apps, games and tablets to keep kids occupied while traveling or waiting for appointments, many moms now see that our “digital natives” need limits when it comes to technology. From kids engaged in nonstop texting to tweens cocooned in their own private playgrounds, these ever-present technological tools have created unexpected parenting challenges at home, at school and during traditional family times such as holidays.
Stacy DeBroff is the founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting, a social media consulting firm focused on moms, and brings more than a decade of award-winning experience, expertise and insight to the nation’s top brands, agencies and organizations. Read more about her at www.stacydebroff.com.