Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Mum Insights for 2013

Mums in 2013
As we’re in the last few weeks of 2012 we know many of you will already be thinking about marketing and research projects for 2013. We thought we’d round up what we’ve learnt about mums in 2012 and let you know what we think brands should be thinking about when it comes to mums in 2013. 

2013 – The Year of the Mum
With a royal baby due this summer you can guarantee pregnancy and mums will be front and centre in the media.  It’s an opportunity for brands to connect with pregnant mums to be and new mums, bearing in mind that the average mum might be interested in the royal babe but is likely to be having a somewhat different experience!

Mums are all the same, and completely different
Which brings us to point two to consider for 2013. We all know mums have common experiences (in that we all have children – nope we don’t even all give birth, some adopt) but that’s often where the similarities begin and end. You can take two mums who appear similar on the surface but when you scratch the surface and start to ask the right questions you soon realise how different they are – from their parenting philosophies, to how and where they shop to how they interact with technology.  We’d like less identification of mums as ‘single’ or ‘ABC1’ and the judgements that go with those labels and more identification of common touch points and differences which uncover insights that can change brands for the better.
The way to do this is by asking the right questions and really listening to the replies (and reading between the lines a fair bit).  Which brings us to our next insight nugget…

Don’t forget about dads…and grandparents…
There was a fair bit of backlash against this year’s Asda Christmas advert, depicting an overwrought mum who does it all.  And while we know mums often bear much of the organisational work for the festive season we felt the Asda advert failed because it was a negative depiction. We could relate to some parts of it but most mums we spoke to said it wasn’t how they felt about things overall.  We know there was a considerable amount of research used to back up the advert but we wonder if the researchers were really listening to what mums were saying (and identifying trends as we would) or asking questions that provoked a negative response.  

The ad reinforced the stereotypical roles for both mum and dad of the 1970s rather than 2012, portraying mum as being washed out, running around doing everything, even relegated to the pouffe at the dinner table. And yes today’s mum is still running around today but is a heck of a lot more empowered and having fun while dads take on more hands on role with cooking and the kids. 

What we know for sure is that dads (and kids and grandparents and aunties and cousins and friends) all influence a mum’s decision-making process and so we shouldn’t forget that when we develop products, services and communications targeted at mums.  So if 2013 is the year you really want to connect with mums then what’s the best platform to do it on? 

The rise of technology
2013 has been the year of technology for mums – the use of smartphones for researching products, reading reviews, connecting with friends and social networking continues to grow. 
Recently more brands have started to introduce apps to making shopping on the go easier for mums (and if you want an easy win with mums then start by creating things that make their life easier). 

Smartphones and apps work for mums because they fit into our busy life – we can order our shopping while sitting at our child’s swimming class or keep our child occupied with a phonics app while waiting for food in a restaurant.  But there is a but. We’ve seen some statistics touted around this year that make it seem as if all mums on are facebook and own smartphones (or are using them in a way a brand could make use of) and in our experience of thousands of mums this just isn’t the case.  Yes in 2013 you should be making use of technology to connect with mums but don’t forget where they were last year (and will continue to be), the school playground, the workplace, the gym, playing in the park or sat in a coffee shop with friends. 

Here’s to a successful 2013 for all our mums and every brand that wants to help them!

If you want to know more about how we identify insights and trends with mums then drop us a line. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Lunchbox battles - does mum always win?

Last week Lynne presented at the Market Research Society Kids & Youth conference on food propositions for the children’s market.  We wanted to talk about what kids want in their lunchboxes versus what parents want to see them eating and what influences parents’ decision making. 

We asked our MumPanel for their views by survey and also using our facebook group for further qualitative discussion. And because we always wanted rounded views we also asked mums at the school gate. The overwhelming message we heard from mums is that they are in control of what goes in their child’s lunchbox, 99% of our parents say they have the ultimate decision. Their child might pester and ask for certain things (and reject things they don’t like) but the parent still sources products. 


We wanted to know what influenced parents when they were buying. It was no surprise to us that mums have lots of factors to consider when purchasing snacks – from their child’s preferences to including healthy foods, allergies, what school wants and budget.  It’s important when you are developing products for snacks that you take all of these points into consideration. A character on a packet may appeal to a child but if mum feels it is an unhealthy choice (and she knows school will agree) then it’s unlikely to make it into her trolley.  It’s a good idea to have a clear idea of what makes your snack a good choice and clearly communicate this to busy parents. 

When it comes to marketing snacks the question companies ask us the most is “do we market to parents or children”? Our survey results showed that parents think information and marketing of snacks should primarily appeal to both parents and children (56%) or parents (42%), with just 2% thinking it should be aimed at children.  How then do you begin to develop for a dual audience? 

  • Start by looking at what parents give as snacks (so cheese, yogurt, fruit) and use this for inspiration.
  • Don’t forget other external forces such as school healthy eating guidelines.
  • Kids are savvy, they understand healthy messages too (41% of mums said that healthy messages appeal to their children).
  • Appeal to both parent & child by messages that they can easily relate to. Sense check as you go with research and focus groups.

You can see Lynne’s full presentation here.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Food labelling and checkout sweeties – our mums have their say

The Government has announced it is going to introduce a voluntary traffic light labelling system for foods in supermarkets to help people make healthier food choices.  An Asda representative was interviewed on Radio 4 about the scheme and was taken to task over their 'guilty' checkouts (filled with sweet and treats).
We wanted to know from our MumPanel how much notice they take of food labelling and whether a traffic light system would help them make healthier food choices for their family? And we wanted to know their views on sweets and treats at the checkout…

Food labelling…

Insight snippets
  •  Mums like the idea because it might save them time instead of having to scan the back of packets.
  • Food labelling doesn’t stop them purchasing if they have already planned to buy a particular product.
  • Mums would like to see more nutritional information for babies and children on packaging, parents often refer to back of packs when buying for children.
  • A standardised system would be best – mums don’t have time to stop and figure things out in a supermarket.
"I like the traffic light system on foods as they help me make a healthier choice. I think they're especially helpful on ready meals which I ate a lot of when OH went back to work from paternity leave as they were easier when baby would be crying, which always seemed to be when I started to make food. I try to eat healthy more for my baby breastfeeding than for myself."

"A standardised traffic light system is a great idea. Quite a few foods do have them already however like a lot of people have been saying it can be confusing as different brands and different supermarkets present their sytems in different ways. Sometimes per portion, half portion, pack, 100g. Who really has time in the supermarket shop to try and work out each individual items nutritional value? I know i don't with my two kids! Standardising it will make everyone’s life easier and clearer, especially for people lacking in time and those who struggle with English too. I believe it'll also be a great incentive to get kids more involved with healthy choices, seeing if they can pick out the 'green' items etc"

Sweets at checkouts…

Insight snippets

  • Most mums would prefer not to see sweets at checkouts – too tempting for adults and children.
  • Most parents see that it’s their responsibility to say no but it can be hard, especially if your child gets upset (and no one wants to deal with that in the supermarket!) – this is just one reason mums are turning to online shopping.

"I hate sweets at checkouts, I'm happy for my children to have a balanced diet including sweets but having them at the checkout makes them too prominent and tempting for children and puts you in a position where it is hard to say no!"

"It doesn't bother me if there are sweets next to the checkout. I just say no to my daughter, sometimes she has a paddy about it but I would rather she did that than end up overweight and with rotten teeth."

If you'd like to pose a question to the 6,000 mums on our MumPanel then drop us a line for more information. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

What wins on the school run - style or practicality?

I think we can officially say that autumn is here. I’m pretty sure it is because I’ve got soaked on the school run every day for the last week. And as all our team are mums we’ve been sharing insight about what trends we’ve spotted in the playground. We also asked our MumPanel what they wear for the school run and whether style or practicality wins.
Lynne, our MD, was the first to spot that Hunter Wellies have made the transition from festival favourite to playground staple (check out this fab purple pair from Out of the City). Some of our mums told us that while their school run outfit needs to be practical they also don’t want to leave all sense of style behind.
But because MumPanel mums are so diverse we knew fashion wouldn’t be the whole story. Many of our mums our budget conscious, with them telling us fashion doesn’t come into the school run and they wouldn’t fork out for an expensive pair of wellies for themselves as they need to kit out their kids.  They also want value (and that doesn’t always mean the cheapest option ) – it’s worth remembering that mums will pay more for something if they know it will last.
What did become apparent from talking to our mums is that they want things that make their life easier – whether that’s wellies that fit around our less than slimline calves or boots that easily pull on so you don’t have to wrestle with shoes and kids. This is where opinion pods (our focus groups) can prove helpful when you are developing new products – we listen to what mums are saying and the tiniest insight can unlock a potentially life changing product.
If you’d like to know more about targeting and connecting with mums then contact us.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Forget Christmas, let’s book a holiday!

It’s only two months until Christmas and in every shop the shelves are packed with Christmas goodies. We asked our MumPanel what they’ll be spending their money on this Christmas and there were some surprising results. 

We wanted to know if mums are feeling the financial pinch this year – 30% said they would be spending less, 58% about the same, 12% more.  And even though today we’ve heard we’re finally out of recession mums are always canny shoppers – whether that’s because money is tighter because of redundancy or maternity leave or they just want to have enough left to pay for a holiday next year.  A strong message from the survey was that mums value family time most, spending almost takes a back seat with many prepared to spend a little less or a little more wisely at Christmas. 

So we know mums like to plan ahead (they are already thinking about next year’s summer holiday and cutting back on Xmas spending so they can afford a family break) and 10% of our mums had already bought food and drink by September. For many mums present shopping starts in January, allowing them to stagger the cost over the year. Our mums also showed us they are resourceful – hunting down deals, and using charity shops and ebay so they can still afford the gifts their children want. And lots of mums find out about these deals from other mums – money saving word of mouth. That’s worth remembering when you are planning how to communicate with mums in 2013. 

We asked mums what they would be buying for their children this year and we expected the list to be full of gadgets and technology. But that isn’t the case – we found kids really want a mix of heritage and traditional toys (bikes, Lego, jigsaws) that wouldn’t be out of place on a Christmas wish list from the 1970s.  We are seeing more tech led presents creeping in (especially for older children – the mums who are spending more this year tend to have older kids who want more expensive, gadget type gifts) but it does show that children still love playing and getting out and about. 

MumPanel Christmas Shopping survey 2012, over 350 respondents, mums with children 0-16 years