Australian brands are failing mums

When it comes to marketing to mothers or mums-to-be, brands are not doing a very good job and are missing the mark.

Katrina McCarter, founder of Marketing to Mums, a marketing and research consultancy focusing on mothers, says that 63 per cent of Australian mums feel advertisers don’t understand them.

“In fact, mums are the most misunderstood, misrepresented and undervalued consumer in Australia,” she says.

“With 6.2 million mothers in Australia, controlling an estimated $132 billion in spending every year, brands are missing out on a significant revenue and growth opportunity."

Since launching Marketing to Mums McCarter has helped over 100 brands drive their sales and profit amongst Australia’s most powerful consumer group. “It doesn’t matter whether they are big or small brands, I see the same three mistakes being made."

McCarter shares the three biggest mistakes made by brands when marketing to mums:

Brands target too broadly

Not all mums are the same. By attempting to appeal to all types of mums, brands end up connecting with just a few and wonder why sales aren’t coming in. When brands treat mums like they are all the same, they alienate their most profitable consumer.

“Don’t try and appeal to the masses. Know who your audience is and then speak to them, as opposed to thinking all mums think and worry about the same things,” says McCarter.

“Mums are all different. We are all different women and the only thing in common is that we have children. Products need to appeal to lots of different lifestyles and parenting styles.

“Get insight into what being a mum means to me―morals, values, etc.―but also where I am in the ‘mum cycle’.”

A clearly defined, niche approach is critical to a brand strategy success within this consumer group.

Brands lack a deep understanding of mums

By not keeping up with the fast pace of change amongst mums and the key trends within mum sub-segments, brands are missing out on significant opportunities. Worse still, they are starting to experience the impact of this oversight, beginning with a slow decline in sales.

“Put time into getting to know me, my circumstances and my wants―I am not just a sales commission, I actually matter.

“Don’t pretend you know what mums want. Do your research and ask.

“Be more realistic in your portrayal of mums. We aren’t all chino-wearing blonde ladies with perfect kids and a border collie. Being a mum is bloody hard work and we deserve to be respected for that.”

Audience intelligence data is low amongst many brands in Australia. Some brands are reluctant to invest in market research, particularly those with smaller marketing budgets. This is incredibly short-sighted because clearly identifying your most profitable mum segment will reap considerable rewards, says McCarter.

Brands aren’t focusing on credibility and relationship building

As a result of broad targeting and a lack of deep understanding about mums, brands fail to build a relationship and mums simply don’t trust them. This is typically characterised by poor relationships, a lack of loyalty and the real threat of declining sales and brand decay. To put it simply, mums are fast developing trust issues with many well-known brands.  

“Be more honest and realistic about motherhood. Mothers don’t look like they’ve just come out of the hair salon at 1am and mums with newborns certainly don’t look like supermodels.

“Before buying anything these days I check online reviews to see if the products match up with their claims. I’m also keen to know how a business has responded to issues and complaints.

“Stop selling and start engaging with us. I predominantly buy due to recommendations of others―other mums, people I follow―because I trust their opinion. I hate being sold to. I love being understood and acknowledged.”

Brands need to focus on building relationships with their mum segment before attempting to sell to them. They need to listen more attentively to their market and engage mothers. Third-party endorsement is also critical to a brand’s credibility and success.

What do marketers need to do?

Australian brands need to invest more in deeply understanding their customer, according to McCarter. Clearly identify who your most profitable mum segment is for your brand and build a strategy around this segment— selecting more niche marketing channels and better tailoring your communications and campaigns will result in significant improvements in the return on your marketing investments. Mums will reward you for your efforts with increased conversions.

I strongly encourage you to invest in research, bring in a specialist to educate your marketing teams, communicate these learnings throughout your organisation and seize this enormous opportunity.