Monday, 23 April 2012

Supermarket sweep – mum insight

The battle of the supermarkets is a constant rumble in our lives, two years ago Tesco were shining bright but this week announced their first profit fall in years and a £1billion recovery plan. Part of that plan is to respond to the increasing amount of shoppers spending their grocery money online. And who are the shoppers they want to target? Mums.

Earlier this year we carried out an extensive MumPanel research project looking at mums views and attitudes towards using the web*, for grocery shopping and other tasks such as using social networking sites and finding information on products. Well over a third of mums frequently shopped for groceries online and only around 15% had never used the internet for food shopping. You can see the results in the graph above.

The insight we gather from that is that supermarkets need to keep a careful eye on what’s happening online and how to appeal to mums but they can’t forget about what’s happening in store.

Last year we worked with Morrisons on a project exploring how their baby products and services appealed to mums. They’ve made changes based on some of our recommendations and as part of a wider store refit have improved the shopping experience for mums.

Both Lynne and I live in areas where Morrisons have carried out store overhauls (Warrington and Preston). The biggest changes in the Warrington store have been to the entrance and ease of getting around the store – vital things for time pushed mums who want to get to the products as quickly as possible. Foods and sections are now positioned in a way that makes more sense when you are trying to fill your trolley quickly (or meal plan as you go around – something mums do a lot!). There is also a ‘basket section’ at Warrington, meaning lunchtimers and mums can quickly grab a few essentials like lunchbox items for their kids. A good layout and access to products encourages mums to buy more, making store makeovers a win-win for everyone. Morrisons have taken the step of integrating online shopping for kids products in store by introducing Kiddicare pods, a clever move that increases brand awareness and gives in store mums the opportunity to shop online even if they wouldn’t normally.

Asda have their sights set firmly on the mum market. In February this year they launched the Asda Mumdex, a quarterly report containing the opinions and views of nearly 4000 mums on how they feel about their finances, their community and their family. Asda are working hard to re-engage mums with more in store marketing and introducing an app for Android users to make online grocery shopping easier.

We took to twitter and asked some of our mums whether improved in store marketing would appeal to them. Some of the responses were revealing – one mum said this would be ok as long as it didn’t stop her getting on with the shopping. Supermarkets need to remember that mums are busy and shopping is generally something that has to get done, not a relaxing experience (especially not if you have a toddler in tow!). Another mum said it wouldn’t make any difference to her because she’d been let down by Asda service in the past. And that marries with what we heard from the research we did last year on shopping – if mums don’t get decent service then they will go elsewhere. So for example my local Sainsbury’s has recently had a revamp. I love shopping there because I know I can always get everything I need. But on the way back to the mother and baby parking spaces there is a steep sideways slope that is very hard to navigate with a full trolley, toddler and 5 year old. Will it stop me shopping there? No. Would it if something else went wrong? Probably.

It’s worth considering a mum’s day-to-day journey when thinking about what they need and what’s going to keep them in your store. A local supermarket where I used to live kept the baby changing room locked (and you had to pay a deposit for a key). I know why they did this but as a mum who encountered it for the first time with a poo-covered baby and toddler it was enough to ensure I never went back to that supermarket.

With several supermarkets revamping their own brand ranges (including Morrisons M Range and Sainsbury’s giving Little Ones a makeover) we asked our twitter mums whether new packaging makes a difference – we heard the same message back several times. Packaging is part of the appeal but mums are more interested in the actual product – if that works for them then they will go back and try it again.

Waitrose have recently collaborated with Mumsnet to develop their online offering and they do an excellent job of creating a seamless in store and online experience (with some outstanding customer service to back it up). I’ve noticed a change in their email campaigns; making me consider them as a place I might do my regular family shop instead of a supermarket for a ‘special occasion’.

So as the fight for mums continues who will come out on top? If you’d like to know more about how our research and campaigns can help you connect with mums then contact us.

*MumPanel study April 2012. 690 respondents.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Finding and filling the gaps – mum insight

We’ve all had those moments in life when we’ve thought up outlandish inventions or wished for a product that didn’t exist. I found myself doing this more once I became a parent and scouring the internet for the solution to problems I didn’t know I had before my children arrived (do you need to carry a potty around once you start potty training, how do you carry an umbrella and push a pram, how do you sneak vegetables into your children’s diet?).

And if you are trying to sell to mums then how do you stay one step ahead of the competition? You find products that don’t exist that mums want. Spotting trends and understanding what products might appeal to mums is best done through a combination of research and insight techniques. We know from our insight work that new products and services can often develop from an offhand comment by a mum. We also know that developing products quickly through a streamlined research process is important, both to keep up with a fast changing market and to beat the competition to the store shelves.

Because we work with thousands on mums we’re constantly hearing about emerging trends and what they want – if you’d like to know more about how we can help you develop new products or services then drop us a line.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Easter holidays and birthdays – mum insight

We’re in the midst of Easter holidays and Katie’s 5th birthday (Lynne’s daughter) is next week. That means we’ve been on the hunt to find activities to fill the days and some treats which don’t break the bank. Most mums, even if they have disposable income, have to constantly balance financial considerations – the household budget versus buying yet another pair of school shoes, forking out for holiday childcare so they can work, enabling their kids to enjoy the holidays by paying for activities offset against the increased council tax bill they just received.

It’s a constant juggling act, which makes most mums financially savvy when it comes to day to day spends. Take today for example, I took my eldest off to the cinema (ODEON) and the ticket guy tried to sell my one of their loyalty cards (£1.99), the ticket price was about £6.50 and he told me I’d get a free ticket next time. So theoretically, I’d be saving myself £4. But as a busy working mum with young children my opportunities to get to the cinema are limited and I knew there would be terms and conditions attached to when I had to claim the ‘free’ ticket by. In my head I’d be paying £2 for something I might never use. I said no and was met with an expression which combined surliness and contempt ‘she’s obviously no idea what a brilliant bargain this is’. As a marketer, I (erm) marvelled at their excellent customer service but as a mum thought they could have pitched the sale in a much better way - why not offer a paid for card that gives me an automatic treat for my child? Alternatively, a free card, which would encourage me to bring my child to the cinema more (at premium times when I have to buy a full priced adult ticket)? A missed opportunity to tap into the mum market.

I’m off to a birthday party this weekend (Princess and Pirate theme – for 5 year olds, not the adults), always an expensive occupation, buying outfits, gifts and cards. We’ve seen some innovative ways to keep these costs down including getting your child to make a birthday card (also quite handy if you are last minute) and re-gifting unwanted presents (shhh). But sometimes birthdays can be an opportunity for education, Lynne’s daughter has requested a visit to the Imperial War Museum, North at Salford Quays for her birthday as they have been doing a World War 2 project at school. It would be great to see companies developing gift offerings that go a step beyond the expected dolly, book or dvd.

If anyone is looking for something to do this weekend then how about checking out the Imperial War Museum North. They are holding an exciting exhibition for children, Once Upon a Wartime. You can learn all about the true events that inspired books like Carrie's War, The Machine Gunners and War Horse.

And even better our client Soreen are going to be there all weekend handing out free samples. Yum yum!!!

If you’d like to know more about innovating and creating products and services that appeal to mums then contact us.