M2Moms: Conference Cliff-Notes
Last week I attended the fifth annual Marketing-to-Moms Conference in Chicago. Bandied about were the ever-popular stats about mom purchasing power, online habits, and social media consumption. But I consider those the price of admission for any mom marketer worth his or her salt, so I’ll skip ahead to the AP-level learnings:
Grandparents: families are living with multiple generations, with nana and grandpa very involved, both physically and financially, in their grandchildren’s lives. Dedicated sites like Grandparents.com prove the popularity of the “never empty nest.”
Return to community values: babysitting co-ops, “cook and freeze” parties, slow parenting (rest from the rat race), good manners and ethics, “unschooling” kids until 1st grade, hand-me-downing via online mothers' clubs and sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Zwaggle.
Nostalgic Brands: Moms love brands they knew as a kid. Companies are rejuvenating dormant brands and capitalizing on the appeal of yesteryear with retrobrands like Puma, VW Beetle, Crayola, and RadioFlyer. (The brand manager from Necco – home since 1847 to Sweethearts, Mary Janes, and Necco wafers -- was smiling ear-to-ear in the audience when this tidbit was presented.)
Mom Bloggers: Brands longing to reap the halo effect by creating relationships with blogebrities or spokesbloggers were given this advice:
● Attend conferences like BlogHer to rub elbows with the who’s who in the blogosphere
● Find a voice that aligns with your brand
● Observe how a mom blogger conducts herself online to weed out any snarky types
● Look on the blogrolls of bloggers you like to find other like-minded moms
● Make it easy for mom bloggers to attend your events by arranging carpools and providing babysitting
(Side note: In case any of you reading are the entrepreneurial type, the subtext I heard in these conversations is that brands are longing for some kind of “at-a-glance” metrics resource on top bloggers. If I had any software skills, I’d build the app myself. But, alas, I can barely figure out my voicemail.)
Cause Marketing: 63% of moms are more likely to support a brand that tells her about its charitable involvement. Susanne Norwitz of Kellogg presented about the outpouring of consumer response to Kellogg’s donation of $10 million of cereal to Feeding America. (I pulled Susanne aside at the break and suggested Kellogg challenge the Milk Advisory Board to match their donation with milk.)
Food: BFY (better-for-you) products are on the rise. So are QR codes on packaging, which allow shoppers to snap a photo with their cell phone and link to product information at the website. And any food that's both fun to eat and healthy is sure to be a winner, since moms value nutrition almost equally with “kid delight.”
Saturation, Fragmentation: Pick your favorite word, but – like all consumers – Moms are drowning in ad messages. 2.7 brand messages every minute of every day. “You don’t get 30 seconds anymore; you get 6.5 seconds.” Better make it good. Consider creating a microsite to target a particular consumer at a particular time.
Top Brands: Top 5 brands with kids are Wii, M&M, Nintendo, Oreo and McDonald’s. Top kid-brands with moms: Crayola, Disney, M&M, Wii, and Reeses.
Social Media: This one thread ran through every presenter’s remarks. Everyone seems in agreement that top-down messaging is shifting to grassroots messaging and two-way dialogue. “Digital is horizontal” and should be part of every department in your company. We heard case studies ranging from Ashton Kutcher’s viral video supporting Kellogg’s Feeding America campaign (nothing like having 3 million Twitter followers) to Symantec’s partnership with School Family Media to connect with moms via schools on the issue of Internet safety.
ROI vs SOI: Instead of trying to calculate an exact $ return on marketing investments, Stacy Debroff of Mom Central explained her notion of Sphere of Influence: what do consumers say about you? Where do they say it? Who’s listening to these conversations?
Advertising: Talk on the messaging side of things (my sweet spot) was slim. Gigi Carroll of DraftFCB gave a great presentation highlighting that 80% of advertisers miss the mark with mom consumers. (Later, while researching this figure online, I found it quoted as high as 90% and connected to the fact that only 3% of advertising creative directors are women. This inspired me to write a mini-rant at Examiner.com.)
Quotables: Some great one-liners
On partnerships: “Don’t look like a NASCAR race car.” – Zanny Oldman, Destination Maternity
On hopping on the social media bandwagon: “Not all brands should be in social media.” Liz Gumbinner, Cool Mom Picks
On the importance of digital: "Digital is horizontal." "If your digital shelf is empty, shame on you." Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola
On the importance of mobile: "DFMS." (Don't Forget Mobile, Stupid.) Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola
On the spending slowdown: “I love coupons. They’re my new crack.” Mom research survey participant
On advertising: "Advertising is so 2008. 2009 is all about communication and connections." Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola
On childhood obesity: “Kids spend twice as much time indoors as they used to. They’ve gone from ‘weee” to ‘Wii.’” Jaime Berman Matyas, National Wildlife Federation
By far the highlight of the conference was the speech by Wendy Clark, SVP at Coca-Cola. Wendy really drove home that "shift happens": we live in a world with more brands but less differentiation, more channels but less attention. Clark advises brands to co-create with users, integrate consumer ideas into your brand, and consider Google as your home page because most folks start at search to find you.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about Wendy’s speech was her embracing of risk. Two of the criteria she evaluates her employees on are risk-taking and innovation, no matter the outcome. Sitting in the wake of Wendy’s incredible energy and smarts, I have to admit I was bummed she works for a company that makes sugar water. Imagine how a leader like this could shake up a deserving non-profit.
In closing, let me offer you one last takeaway. If you ever find yourself in the fair city of Chicago, do not, under any circumstances, stay at The Whitehall Hotel. Yet do be certain to meet an old friend for dinner at Bistro 110.