Millennials around the world are becoming first time mums. Between the ages of 18 and 31 (the youngest in Angola and the oldest in Greece), we are seeing the influence of their generational values and increasing internet access through a new form of parenting.
Having grown up with a global perspective and therefore various opinions of what makes a mum a mum (and a dad a dad), brands need to adapt to a conscientious, time poor and socially influential parent, not only with what they say, but where and how they say it.
In case you haven’t met them yet, here’s what makes a millennial mum a little bit different:
They value a diverse perspective on gender roles
Millennials, more than any other generation, are publically challenging the definition of gender and gender roles within the family unit. In their lifetime they have seen the legalisation of gay marriage in many countries, and therefore same-sex parent units and the increasing exposure of the LGBT community are sparking interesting debate on what constitutes a gender. Meanwhile, those countries practicing shared maternity/paternity leave have been praised as best in class examples of gender equality.
The needs and therefore behaviours of these mums are changing, which means that brands must adapt. 50% of American millennial mums (as opposed to 34% of Gen X and Baby Boomers respectively) have purposefully bought gender-neutral toys for their children and though women are still the principle carer at home, this year the number of stay-at-home dads in the UK reached a record high of 10%. Millennial mums want to see this diversity represented and alternative dynamics supported by the brands that they engage with.
They are concerned about losing the rest of their identity
There have always been working mothers and China has one of the world’s largest numbers of them with 320 million mums returning to work. Though still driven by economic necessity in many cases, more are returning to keep one foot on the career ladder and retain a sense of self. The last 50 years have seen a revolution of women staying in further education before building a reputation and identity as a successful career woman, driven by personal goals. And then suddenly everything changes.
According to a Saatchi & Saatchi survey, 51% of modern mums don’t think that marketers understand them, retaining an outdated view of what motherhood is. The mum returning to work after two months of leave is never heroed or acknowledged, nor is the mum who depends on her Thursday night class to escape and have a little ‘me time’. Having grown up in an era of explicit individualism, mums want to keep a hold of the other dimensions of their personality, though their bundle of joy is a new part of that.
They are highly dependent on technology
This shouldn’t come as a surprise as this is the first “digitally native” generation who have grown up with social media and endless information at their fingertips, but it should interest marketers to know that millennial mums have an average of 3.4 different social media accounts and spend 17 hours a week with those networks. Restricted by time and driven by a thirst for information, mums are reliant upon mobile and tablet technology for a home-cooked recipe, peer to peer advice and shopping. E-commerce will only grow with this cohort as it helps them gain the most precious luxury of all: time.
Those brands not yet winning through digital, beware. Mums will be engaging with those who make any part of their life simpler, quicker and smarter, not to mention help stay in touch with those they’re seeing less of these days.
They’re highly influential
As with mums of every generation, parenthood can become a competitive sport, but through social media there is a heightened awareness of what other mums think about the food they’re feeding their child and the rate of their development. The influence of this generation of mums has so far been hugely underestimated – 90% of what they share is about a purchase they’ve made or service they’ve used, and each has an average of 24 close friends, so really they’re a marketer’s dream (assuming that the reviews are good of course!).
To all you baby brands out there, it’s time to change tack as you’re beginning to disconnect with your primary consumer. There’s a need to better reflect the current shifts in parenthood, or better yet look to what may change in the future and how your brand can be the catalyst for greater progress.
You need to better reflect the increasing diversity of the family dynamic with a sense of “realness”. This means deviating from a familiar narrative focused on magical moments and replacing it with a true-to-life relationship between parent and child, acknowledging the different roles that those parents have to play over time. You need to be there whenever these parents need you, which means a seamless and useful digital experience. Think about bite-size education, connecting different groups or individuals to make it social, and incorporating e-commerce to save mum some time. She’ll thank you for it. Publicly.
By Lauren Murray, Consultant, 23.05.2016