What Mom Needs to Hear: Q&A with The Motherhood.com’s Cooper Munroe
Blogger and Co-founder of TheMotherhood.com
In any economy, moms hold the purse strings. To loosen them, marketers will have to appeal to moms with products they want and messages they want to hear. To find out what will get moms’ attention now, Perspectives turned to one of the most powerful moms on the Web — Cooper Munroe.
Cooper, mother of four, is a blogger and a co-founder of The Motherhood.com, an award-winning website for mothers. To answer our questions about communicating with moms post-recession, Cooper shares her own views as well as insights from fellow mom bloggers.
Perspectives: Moms typically are the primary purchasers for their households. As a mom, do you feel the recession is over and that an economic recovery is under way?
Cooper Munroe: I don’t know many moms who think the recession is “over.” When asked about economic recovery, their comments typically range from “fingers crossed” to “we’re not close in any way, shape or form.”
Moms’ voices of cautious hesitation and outright “definitely nots” are required listening. Several years ago on TheMotherhood.com, a small percentage of our members started – almost out of nowhere – to talk about making things from scratch, “homemade holidays” and using up everything in the pantry and freezer before shopping again. We watched that trend grow months, if not years, before the economic meltdown. Moms are the litmus test for the economy, and if they don’t think this is over, believe them, it’s not.
As I asked several other mom bloggers these questions, the most important thing I heard that has come out of the recession for many, many moms is a rethinking of their priorities and spending habits. Moms believe we, as a country and as individuals, have been forced to learn difficult and important lessons about fiscal responsibility – and they are right. Quality and value are the priorities in purchasing decisions.
Perspectives: What marketing messages, if any, are you hearing that make you want to purchase products or services?
Munroe: Moms are back to the basics. Many say they feel a kinship with their great-grandmothers’ mindsets. Good, practical, honest, straightforward and quality products win their dollars.
Products that are higher in quality and value – meaning fewer cheap ingredients with chemical additives and more nutritious or whole ingredients – are what many moms are looking for. A lower price is appealing, of course, but not if that means a lower-quality product.
Jennifer James of Mom Bloggers Club summed up what moms are looking for with this example: “I am starting to hear marketing messages about food that are beginning to resonate. For example, I was excited to see the Hunt's Facebook ad announcing they will no longer add high fructose corn syrup to their ketchup. I paid attention to that!” (Editor’s note: Hunt’s, a ConAgra Foods brand, is a Ketchum client.)
Moms also want to know that companies are understanding and supportive of what is meaningful to them. As blogger Deborah King of Indigo Jones Studio put it, “I love hearing the message that an industry is putting money behind things I value. Things like the environment or good health.”
Perspectives: What marketing messages do you want to hear that you are not hearing?
Munroe: The themes are quality, value and honesty, but I’ll let some of the bloggers I talked to speak for themselves.
“Stop promising me happiness, beauty, popularity and sex through your products. I don't buy that anymore. Show me a good product – not a luxury item that I won't really need. Show me how your product is practical. Show me how it realistically improves my life. Show me a well-made product that will last. If you can show me all of that, then I would even pay more than I would for a cheaper product – even with a tight budget, because those things mean that much to me.” — Brandie Langer, Journey of 1,000 Stitches
“I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen and in the grocery store. I want to hear marketing messages about foods that are good for me and for my family and that have simple ingredients. From foods to personal care products, I want to buy products that don't force me to read labels to decipher what's in them. For example, I don't expect a loaf of bread to have high-fructose corn syrup in it, but I've seen that a lot. I also pay attention to marketing messages that stress quality for low prices. For example, Children's Place has great clothes for kids, but they are surprisingly very, very affordable – almost Walmart cheap. Also, Whole Foods' 365 brand ensures quality organic products for less. My house is full of 365 products, from food to shampoo to soap.” — Jennifer James, Mom Bloggers Club
“I want to hear that there is value in what I am going to buy – not that the price is low, but the price is reasonable and I am getting decent quality for the money I spend.” — Robyn Wright, Robyn’s Online World
“I like straightforward messages with consumer honesty. That isn't always the norm.”
— Tracey Henry, Suburban Diva
Perspectives: As a blogger, have you heard comments from other moms about what it will take to make them want to shop now or how their shopping habits might be different post-recession?
Munroe: In addition to the themes we’ve already covered, moms are not as interested in accumulating “stuff” but more focused on experiences – using or doing things that add value or enhance their lives or their family’s life. It is, and you can obviously see a thread here, all about the big picture: quality and value, literally and figuratively. The products moms can trust, feel good about and know will honestly make their lives a little better are the products they will buy.
Perspectives: What are some general messages that will not work to get moms to shop?
Munroe: Overall, remember moms are smart and can smell inauthentic and “phoned in” messaging a mile away. If the product and its messaging come from a solid place of quality, honesty and integrity, and with information to back it up, you’re golden.
In terms of messages that don’t work, I put together a list with input from several bloggers:
- Celebrity endorsements (terms the bloggers used to describe celebrity endorsements included "annoying," "just for image," "hollow," "untrustworthy")
- Flimsy gimmicks
- False “greenwashing”
- Vagueness (“We like information; don’t be vague!”)
- Manipulation (“Don’t say it will make me cool or make my kids love me!”)