The “S” word.
With all of the powerful tools at their fingertips – smartphones, tablets, the AI (they do not realize they use) and more — today’s moms should be relaxing at the beach or a spa, sipping a soothing beverage.” Instead, they are busier and more stressed than ever before.
In fact, 70% of Millennial moms tell GfK Consumer Life that they experience three or more major sources of stress in their lives – much higher than their Gen X or Boomer counterparts. How can it be that this generation with huge tech advantages is still struggling to keep pace? And can brands do anything about it?
Stress is a dirty word in the world of Millennial moms – and this may be a big part of the problem. They are driven and have strong ambitions – but they want to make it all look effortless. They want everything to look just right in their social media feeds, even as they struggle to tie up all the loose ends. When do they get to be at ease – just plain human?
Our research shows that self-pressure is one of the top stressors reported by Millennial moms. Other sources of anxiety include the amount of money they have to live on, not getting enough sleep, their children, the never-ending demands of work, and having little time for self. Lack of sleep and frequent exhaustion also put more pressure on moms – and so does making hundreds of decisions every day.
We are also seeing that technologies seemingly designed to promote connectivity can also foster isolation. Friendships, a value defined as having close and supportive friends, has declined dramatically (down 11 ranks among moms) since 2001. Moms can have a lot of social media connections but very few “real friends” – ones they could rely on as emergency babysitting or truly confide in to relieve stress.
How can brands help these high-stress moms navigate their worlds? How can brands succeed where smartphones and other technologies seem to be failing?
Keep an eye on “mom currencies”
What can brands do to help these truly remarkable but challenged Millennial moms? The best answer to listen to and to watch moms themselves – how their lifestyles are evolving, and what are their values, priorities, and needs. Here are just a few key mom “currencies” of today, which are key to innovation and marketing to moms.
Mom Currency: Effortlessness
In today’s fast-paced world, moms increasingly look for ways to streamline their lives (+ 6 pts from 2015), and Simplicity is one of the fastest rising values among Millennial moms (+9 ranks since 2015). Effortlessness is still an important mom currency’ but it has moved from an added “bonus” to an expectation. It is the difference between success or failure. Marketers and brands need to remove barriers to product/ service usage. Some basic examples include the ease of coming back as a repeat customer. Getting rid of potential barriers to adoption, e.g. yet another password they will never remember. This is a given, but making the instructions self-explanatory and easy to follow under pressure (potentially with a toddler screaming somewhere in the background). Effortlessness is a customer expectation, key to their satisfaction and to your success as a brand.
Mom Currency: Time
We live in an attention economy, with an abundance of information and unsolicited advice; and like everybody today, moms are susceptible to distraction. The overwhelming majority of stressed moms (88%) and Millennial moms (77%) claim they are so busy, they often can’t finish everything in one day. Time is now more precious than ever; thus, brands and marketers need to respect moms’ busy-ness, both from a product/service or marketing standpoint. Examples of time-saving innovations out there include Google Duplex, which can make phone calls and set appointments for you and has the potential to cut out some of life’s mundane tasks. Amazon is another brand highly popular among moms because it respects mom’s time and uses predictive analytics to reduce some of the guesswork out of their decisions.
Mom Currency: Integrity (data, privacy and more)
In the increasingly digital world, data and privacy are the new digital currencies and trust takes on a new meaning. On one end, moms desire tailored products and appreciate brands that “know them”; but they have to give up some of their privacy to be able to receive these personalized solutions. Additionally, there is a fine balance between providing highly customized services and creeping moms out.
Data protection will be increasingly critical to building trust. Brands will need to stay diligent and beef up security to keep up with the demand for customized solutions while keeping renegades away from consumer data. Data leaks have become excessively commonplace, and each data leak is a stab at a brand’s credibility. Overall, moms are expecting more from brands, and authenticity and ethics are increasingly critical to building and maintaining trust. A brand promise needs to be tied to action or taking an ethical stance. Mattel is an example of a brand that developed a smart speaker for kids, called Aristotle, but amid criticism around privacy concerns, canceled the product.
Besides privacy, integrity expands to products, the integrity of ingredients, sourcing, packaging and animal testing. Blockchain offers a huge promise in being able to track ingredients back to the source. C.S. Lewis put it nicely, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
Mom Currency: Values
Moms do not wake up thinking, “I am going to buy a brand only because I appreciate this or that value.” But as consumers, moms will choose products and services from brands that are relatable to them and their world. Understanding the values of today’s and tomorrow’s moms will be critical to connecting and securing your customer base. There are many examples of brands that are fixated on what’s seemingly working for them, only to alienate customers that are aging into their target segment, resulting in a missed opportunity. Values show up in those little details, from what the brand represents, to subtle messages on the website, through customer service and in the product/service itself.
With that said, Millennial moms increasingly pay more attention to values of Equality, Social Tolerance, and Creativity. They care about the greater good, which also entails preserving the environment and being close to nature. Technology empowers moms, who increasingly band together for social causes. Two in ten (20%) of moms with kids under 18 feel they have a real and substantial effect on the direction of the country, up significantly since 2012 (+9 pts).
And though they are ambitious, Millennial moms also appreciate modesty — perhaps as a backlash to the social media and it screaming experience opulence or the mantra “pic or it didn’t happen.” Motherhood has not robbed moms from their sense of wonder and fun. In fact, Millennial moms increasingly appreciate Having Fun.
Make an Effort
In closing, keep in mind that moms are not a monolithic group; messages aimed at different mom groups need to be tailored to speak the right language and be respectful to their worlds. We have seen that Millennial moms have powerful but sometimes conflicting impulses; they want to do it all and have downtime, to look great while just being themselves, and to embrace great brands while still getting a good price.
Brands need to lean in to their struggles and their values; simply making the effort says a lot to moms who often feel alone and stretched to the limit. Think about what your brand can do, while remaining true to its identity and authentic to moms’ expectations. And keep returning to your research and insights to create a story that translates into a powerful strategy – moms are ever-evolving and demand to be recognized and understood in all of their incarnations.