One year ago, I became a new target demographic for marketers: new mom. As I reflect on the brands now in my life and purchases I’ve made for myself and my tiny human, I can appreciate why some brands have gotten my attention, earned my loyalty and my vocal recommendation. According to Ketchum’s "Brand New Parents: The Journey to More Than Me" study, only one-third of new parents said advice they received from brands was helpful. From my vantage point wearing my marketer, mom and registered dietitian hats, here are five things marketing and communications professionals should know about new moms and how to win us over.
We want customer service by community: New moms prefer to turn to digital forums for 24/7 support from other moms if we are looking for a recommendation, have a question on a particular topic or need SOS guidance. Many moms (54% in Ketchum’s study) join multiple Facebook groups of other moms, based on their community, feeding approach, and lifestyle. We use these groups as a search engine to crowdsource responses or search previous posts to see if their questions have already been answered. Most of these groups are formed organically by moms looking to connect with other moms like them (e.g., I started one for registered dietitians who are new moms), but there are some formed by brands too. An example of this is a private Facebook group moderated by the manufacturer of my breast pump, where I have been able to connect quickly with the brand’s lactation consultants (certified IBCLC) to check that I was using it correctly, gather best practices from other moms for pumping at work, and confirm the charge wouldn’t short when I was traveling abroad. I ended up purchasing a 2nd pump for work, their brand of replacement parts every few months and often tag them on Instagram in my posts. I could have eventually found the answers to all of my questions, especially in the mom-formed nursing and pumping groups I’m in, but the brand being a resource to me, and providing me access to an IBCLC, made me not only a fan, but an advocate. Cassandra Daily recently reported on brands launching digital communities to connect fans, and there is an opportunity for brands marketing to moms to combine the power of the mom community with the knowledge of brand reps. We may not be fans yet, joining out of necessity, but we will quickly become fans if the brand can give us answers on demand that lead to us feeling more confident.
We want to connect with other new moms: New moms want to know that other moms are going through what they are, emotionally, physically and mentally, and have reassurance that other babies are doing the same weird, gross or unexplainable things their baby is doing. We also need to be reassured what we are doing is "right," from feeding, to nap schedules to play. While our online mom tribe is essential, nothing can replace connecting in person. But the challenge is always where can we go that will be accommodating to a brigade of strollers and where we can feel comfortable changing, feeding and soothing our babies. This is an opportunity for retail brands to be the hero while introducing themselves to potential new customers. One national retailer of athleisure got it right by opening its doors to moms and mom-to-be in my community for a free yoga class before the store’s regular business hours (when new moms are up anyway!) and didn’t rush us and our babies out when the store opened. In addition to providing a venue to gather and connect, they also provided yoga mats and blocks, and offered attendees 20% off an item. This brand become my go-to for postpartum clothes and now is a staple of my wardrobe. Providing new moms with a safe venue to connect gives brands permission to show how they can fit into our new lives, in an authentic, meaningful way.
We rely on our "team" when making purchasing decisions: I often see brand presentations targeting pediatricians as the go-to expert influencing new moms. But while pediatricians are certainly providing guidance across a wide variety of baby categories, they don’t typically make specific brand recommendations. For many new moms, we get recommendations from the team of specialists we have surrounded ourselves with. A new mom’s team is likely a combination of specialists the pediatrician has referred us to, moms with a specific expertise within our group of mom friends or in the local community, and moms we follow on social media. For example, the bottles my son uses were recommended by an IBCLC who leads a weekly new mom group at a local hospital, his sippy cup was recommended by a Speech Language Pathologist in a local Facebook group, I was introduced to the brand of oatmeal we buy via a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist friend who works for the company, new toys for development of motor skills were recommended in Instagram stories by a mom friend who is an Occupational Therapist, and a doula I follow on Instagram tagged an Australian brand of two-way zipping pajamas that we now swear by (and a subsequent post of mine has encouraged at least 5 of my local and virtual mom friends to also order them from across the world). While working with social media influencers might allow brands to market to hundreds of thousands of new moms at a time, there is an opportunity for brands to get a little more grassroots by identifying the hyperlocal moms and specialists (who might technically be microinfluencers or nanoinfluencers by industry definition of follower count) who already recommend their products online and also offline to their patients and clients. Offering them coupons or an opportunity to get a first look at new products would give these trusted moms even more reasons to recommend the brand and engage their followers, patients and clients (and the brand’s prospective new customers) in a way they couldn’t otherwise.
We want visual instructions on demand: The last thing a new mom wants to do is spend time researching how to use, fix or store the dozens of gadgets and gear that was recommended we get that we’ve never had to think about before. The brands I am most loyal to and sing their praises to other parents have made it easy for me to understand just how life-changing the product is. Our favorite travel stroller has the most genius design that fits in the plane’s overhead compartment but it wasn’t initially intuitive how to fold it up. The brand offers a simple video tutorial without sound that provided step-by-step guidance and an instant replay of details that was easy to follow as we were packing up at the gate to board our first flight with baby in tow. We received a few baby carriers as gifts and the one I used exclusively was from a brand who put paid support behind a video of a mom on Youtube giving a tutorial. It was the first video that popped up so it was the first one I tried and made me comfortable with baby wearing from the start. Even though I have a Master’s degree in nutrition, feeding my son solids for the first time was unknown territory and it was especially terrifying when introducing common allergens, like peanuts. Simple videos and images from trusted brands not only provided me with guidance, but also peace of mind. There is no shortage of "how to" videos that new parents will search for, so it’s important for brands to offer resources that are easily accessible and easy to follow, with content that addresses questions at different moments in a new parent’s journey to keep them engaged.
We want to use our brains while on maternity leave: For women who have been laser focused on their careers, the shift from a packed schedule of meetings, business travel and managing teams, to being managed by a baby boss and at the mercy of nap schedules can be quite jarring. According to Ketchum’s Brand New Parents study, about seven out of 10 first-time parents believe their lives became all about their children when they became parents and many reported struggling with the loss of freedom as they establish their new identity. The transition to motherhood, called matrescence, and also known as the "4th trimester," was the subject of a NY Times piece by Dr. Alexandra Sacks that went viral in the mom community. The first few weeks of my maternity leave, I still made a to do list to keep some semblance of my former life (even if the only thing I checked off all day was "shower") and scanned work email craving to be stimulated and feel useful. I learned that other local moms on maternity leave were also longing to have intelligent adult conversations and we started a Longreads Club. We didn’t have time to read a whole book but a long article was doable, and we would meet up at a baby-friendly restaurant or at someone’s home to discuss the article of the week. I eventually took business email off my phone and found another way to feed my professional soul without being connected to work was to start learning from other working moms and trailblazing women how they merge their professional identify and working mom status. I found inspiration and advice by following mom executives on Instagram. I subscribed to a few professional e-newsletters which were always reliably in my inbox while I was nursing. While some might question the need for more email, Forbes recently reported that e-newsletters are an effective way to distribute thought leadership. I drive thought leadership strategy for many food and wellness brand executives, and as a new mom, I have a new appreciation for just how powerful it can be to inspire brand loyalty and advocacy. There is an opportunity for brands and moms in senior leadership positions to serve up thought leadership to show new moms they can be a resource in this new phase of their life, helping establish and foster a connection with the brand.
Marketing to new moms is not a new strategy for many brands but there are emerging territories to navigate in today’s hyperconnected and highly segmented media and social landscape, most notably with AI allowing for more nuanced targeting. As a marketer, I’m excited to innovate in this space, and as the target audience, I look forward to experiencing how marketing to moms evolves.
Jaime Schwartz Cohen MS, RD, is the SVP, director of nutrition at Ketchum.