Today’s digital moms are anything but out of touch. They’re tech savvy widely informed by their peers and spending more time on blogs and social networks than ever before. A recent report by Razorfish and CafeMom revealed that 65 percent of moms use social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace. And according to the report they’re spreading messages to each other with increasing speed. Fifty-six percent text message 55 percent instant message and 21 percent use RSS to stay ahead of the curve. That’s right Wally—June Cleaver doesn’t live here anymore.
As a result of their fast and powerful social networks digital moms are relying less on the experts and more on their peers for information they can trust. According to an April 2008 study by word-of-mouth marketing consultancy Keller Fay Group and babycenter.com 76 percent of moms say they use the Internet for support and guidance. The good news for marketers? The study also revealed that moms and moms-to-be have an average of 109 conversations per week about products services and brands. With this knowledge in hand brand marketers aren’t wasting any time. They’re reaching out to female-centric social networks and blogs and are creating their own websites to facilitate the conversation.
“A lot of the mom efforts are moving to the digital environment ” says Molly Starmann director of marketing at McDonald’s. “There are a lot of credible mommy bloggers out there. Moms go to the Internet to share stories and glean advice from other moms so we’re out there listening to them and we believe that [the Internet] is a place where we will continue to put a lot of our marketing efforts.”
Over several months in 2007 and 2008 McDonald’s invited six moms to its corporate headquarters farms factories and restaurants for a rare behind-the-scenes experience then let the moms blog about it on a company-created website. At generationhuggies.com diaper brand Huggies collected videos submitted by moms sharing what motherhood means to them and then created buzz for the videos via a five-city tour. Clif Family Winery & Farm gave moms a time out with thoughtful event experiences they could share with other women both on and offline. The takeaway: Give moms a great first-hand experience to talk about and the world wide web is your oyster.
THE BIG 3-0
Turning 30 is a big deal so Huggies celebrated its 30th anniversary last fall with moms in that age group with the Generation Huggies program. The tour kicked off at the Union Square Autumn Festival in New York City with celebrity mom Alison Sweeney participating in the ribbon cutting. Visiting moms had access to the Generation Huggies mobile vehicle where they could record a 60-second video voicing what motherhood means to them. (The winning videos were announced on the website in December; the moms will be featured in a national online ad campaign this year.) To create buzz for the program Huggies partnered with themotherhood.com and Gabrielle Blair a mom blogger based in New York. On her blog Blair urged moms unable to visit NYC to submit their videos and enter a sweepstakes on generationhuggies.com which drove women to the website that otherwise would not have known about it.
“This generation is skeptical to marketing that appears to be inauthentic shallow and self-promoting ” says Craig Wanous brand manager at Huggies. “It seeks to be heard and be part of communities. Therefore rather than focus on Huggies we centered the program on listening to and recognizing today’s mom. We understand that moms are interactive and they’re engaging in online mom communities.”
In each city—Chicago Dallas New York Orlando and Philadelphia—moms had a chance to create their videos join the Huggies Baby Network to be the first to learn about new products and receive mom-to-mom tips as well as sign up for a chance to win $30 000. Local mom bloggers were invited to take photos and recount their experience online. In New York City Huggies estimates that more than 35 000 people attended the event (Mr. Youth New York City handled).
McDonald’s knows that it has a marketing challenge with health-conscious modern moms who might appreciate the fast-food chain’s convenience but still question its nutritional value. That’s where Mom Quality Correspondents come in. Those six moms were first given the key to the Golden Arches in 2007 when they had the chance to go behind the scenes at the company’s corporate headquarters to discuss their food concerns with executives and chefs spend time at the farm and the factory and meet with suppliers to learn the entire process of Mickey D’s food from farm to fork. Following their experience a website—mcdonalds.com/qualityfood—was created where the moms could blog about their experience and answer consumers’ questions regularly and in a real-time via a 30-minute virtual event. The website was started in 2007 and the mothers continue to blog on it today. Some of the moms have gone on to speak about their experience with McDonald’s at national events on such subjects as women’s health issues and citizen journalism. With the success of the six moms there is talk of similar programs evolving on a regional level. Each will be unique according to that market and its moms and their individual needs.
“The objective of this program is to build trust among moms so they feel really good about visiting and eating McDonald’s with their kids ” says Starmann. “We were transparent we opened our doors to them and we allowed them to make their own opinions about McDonald’s and our food by giving them facts.”
The bonus: McDonald’s is not just building brand loyalty with today’s mom—but with their kids too. The brand hopes these future consumers will feel good about the McDonald’s brand when they grow up because mom said so.
Being a busy digital mom isn’t all about the kids. It’s also about finding time for individual needs such as beauty fitness and female camaraderie.
The Clif Family Winery & Farm owned by Clif Bar & Company which produces organic foods like the Clif Bar and Luna bar in December sponsored a Women & Wine and Walking event in Los Angeles to interact with its female consumers by giving them a day of leisure and bonding with women that share similar interests. The event treated women of all ages to a vigorous hike followed by a wine tasting of Clif Family wines and its olive oil products. Clif Family Winery teamed up with Women & Wine a lifestyle company that organizes wine events for women and offers a website where they can post their experiences for other wine savvy women to read.
“Being able to reach women in this kind of environment is something that you’re seeing a lot more of across all products now ” says Linzi Gay marketing director at Clif Family Winery & Farm. “When I looked into Women & Wine it was about letting women experience our product and our story in a social setting outside of just being talked to. We’re all bombarded with different messages all the time so it’s about engaging these women rather than just trying to talk to them about the product.”