Marketing To Moms During Coronavirus Requires Understanding And Authenticity

May 18, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Shutterstock_1070125520 Busy woman trying to work while babysitting two kids

It is an unusual time to be a parent. Uncertainty about the future and the stress that can come from homeschooling plus, having kids of all ages underfoot all day every day has created unexpected challenges for parents, particularly mothers, who tend to be the family managers

During the coronavirus quarantines, family management has involved all the usual things, like shopping and schoolwork, but those tasks have been amplified and complicated in unprecedented ways, from finding the best food delivery options to getting the necessary tools for remote learning. Of course, brands communicate with moms all the time, but how to reach them during coronavirus may require different, more direct approaches, ones that solve problems, instead of aggressively pitching new services. As always, authenticity is crucial when engaging moms. “You need to remain true to who you are as a brand. Be authentic, be helpful, but you also want to make sure you’re bringing a unique voice to the table,” said Chuck Scothon, a Senior Vice President at Fisher-Price. “You need to be a resource for parents and not be marketing to parents.”

Connecting With Moms Means Understanding What They Want From Brands

It is a critical time for brands across the board. Striking a balance between effective marketing and audience engagement, while taking into account the mood of the country, requires brands to stay alert and nimble during coronavirus. When talking to mothers, it’s crucial advertisers understand what moms want and need right now. 

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AdAge notes, “More than 80% of moms report that the way brands behave during the crisis will affect their [the moms’] desire to use those brands in the future, according to a recent study by market research firm GfK.” 

Moms gravitate to authenticity.  Authenticity is becoming increasingly important in advertising, particularly as the buying power of younger generations increases, and moms are emerging as a group equally swayed by brands that deliver authentic advertising. Right now isn’t the time for aspirational marketing pushes moms are in the thick of it, and they want to see advertising that represents what they are experiencing. Any advertising that makes moms feel shame for not doing more or looking perfect is likely to fall flat in the middle of a pandemic when tensions are high. 

“Parents are in survival mode, most juggling the stress of workplace disruption/uncertainty as well as homeschool education,” said Lori Taylor, founder and CEO of fresh produce consumer brand The Produce Moms. “Simplicity and straightforwardness is critical. How is your website and social media presence a solution to the at-home cook and the millions of exhausted, stressed-out parents that are trying to maintain morale at home during COVID-19?”

Moms use social media to find communities. During the pandemic, moms have been using social media at significantly higher rates, with 39% of moms with children under 18 months gravitating to Instagram in particular. Social media can offer a sense of community during the pandemic, especially for moms of younger kids who may be feeling unmoored during self-isolation without the support of other mothers. From AdAge, “Those brands that offer a sense of community like a ‘mom tribe’ where mothers can connect with other parents, trade advice and offer tips either on social channels or on their own websites will win more dollars, experts say.” During coronavirus, moms are also more likely to be consuming their media via mobile, so advertisers should take that into account when making any marketing moves directed at moms.

Moms aren’t monolithic. Some moms are unable to work at home for financial reasons, and some are first responders; some moms don’t have access to the necessary tools for homeschooling, while some are working from home and managing remote learning; and some moms are struggling with isolation, while others are enjoying slowing down.

The financial, social and emotional responses of different mothers during coronavirus should not be ignored by brands. Moms know who they are, and many are aware of when brands are pandering to them or ignoring them. Effective targeted branding that speaks genuinely to individual experiences is the most likely to resonate with moms from all walks of life. 

Brands Are Stepping Up To Be Resources For Moms During Coronavirus

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Many brands are finding inventive ways to be resources for parents during coronavirus, especially when it comes to keeping kids in touch with their feelings, entertained and eating healthy. “Our followers have asked us for at-home activity and e-learning sheets, new content to inspire children to eat fruits and vegetables, information on how to store fresh produce at home, and simple meal ideas that yield the least amount of dirty dishes, like sheet pan dinners and casseroles,” said Taylor. In response, several food brands are using content marketing to offer parents and kids resources. For example, Dole created a “website that includes produce-themed crossword puzzles, coloring pages, recipes and more,” and Well-Pict berries shared recipes for kids across their social media channels to offer fun for kids and options for parents. 

Toy and kid-friendly brands are also stepping up with solution-based, mom-targeted marketing campaigns and partnerships to help kids stay engaged during coronavirus:

  • Mattel launched Mattel Playroom in March. According to the toy brand, the site offers “Activities, expert advice, games and content from all of our amazing brands [now] available in one place.” The hashtag #KeepPlaying is being used by Mattel brands to promote the fun activities offered at Mattel Playroom. 
  • Fisher-Price created the Home Collection campaign, which was deployed across social media and encouraged kids and parents to make use of what they have around the house to make toys. 
  • Headspace partnered with Sesame Street, recruiting Grover and Elmo to help kids manage their feelings during self-isolation.

As we move into summer and the country begins reopening, the needs of moms will change. Remote learning inside will evolve into interactive play outside, and new opportunities to connect with parents will become available to brands. Brands that thoughtfully, authentically and appropriately connected with moms throughout self-isolation, and continue to do so, are more likely to see long-term loyalty from moms.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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