It's not just mums setting consumer trends in 2014, says Netmums founder, it's dads too

If you want to market to families in 2014, there are a few things marketers need to know, writes Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums
Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums

Firstly, you must harness parents’ trust by showing transparency. You can’t buy it, you have to earn it, and earn it with the basics – that means great customer service, motivated staff, and honesty in your dealings with shoppers and suppliers.

Secondly, families these days are no longer cash rich and time poor: they are cash and time poor. When developing your strategy, think of the double-up dads squeezing every last second out of the day and every last penny out of their wallets. What can your brand do to help make a family’s life simpler, easier and better?

Finally, think long term. Families will only pledge loyalty to those brands who offer something back to them, like superb value and an understanding of what their family wants: Asda’s work experience programme for Year 10 students shows families they can shop well at low prices, while the store will also help find employment for their kids – the perfect lure for the modern mum.

But now that we know 2014 has seen the highest-ever number of stay at home dads, brands also need to check their ‘dad-vertising’ to market to men, too.

Here are Netmums’ top four consumer trends for the mums and dads of today.

For the mums...

The rise of the grandma shop

The way families shop is changing – fast. A third of mums now shop like their own mother or grandmother did, with a small daily or three times a week ‘top up shop’ to ensure food is not wasted.
It’s much harder to keep your customers coming back to your store or buying your brand if another is on offer. But mums are in store several times a week rather than just once, meaning a greater exposure to your messages. The smarter stores are already innovating to keep customers coming back, such as Aldi Specialbuys and the Co-Operative’s ‘flash sales’ on essentials including bread and milk, while Lidl has reported a 16 per cent rise in frequency of shops this year alone.

Prestige to pay

University no longer has universal appeal. Just 17% of families still see university as a good way to get a job and are turning to apprenticeships instead. Tellingly, 47 per cent of traditional graduate employers now have special school leaver schemes, reflecting this major social change. Does your brand offer mentoring or ‘work ready’ schemes? Are you supporting school children with real world work experience? These will buy support from parents.

Tainted trust

It began with the Horsemeat scandal, and is growing in momentum. From supermarkets setting up ‘dodgy deal’ offers to concerns over hidden sugar in food, mums are questioning whether they can trust stores and suppliers more than ever before. An astonishing 58 per cent of families say they trust supermarkets and suppliers less than this time two years ago. And they’re not keeping quiet about it. Over a third have complained to a company while one in seven post their consumer problems online. Big names like Tesco have seen consumer confidence plummet – and the Internet means it’s harder than ever to control your brand message. What is your brand doing to build – or restore – trust?

Open all hours

Your customer services closes at 5.30pm and your social media team log off at 10pm – but mums are on 24hrs. The threat? A social media crisis can develop overnight when your team is sleeping.
The opportunity? Be open all hours, and you can be making sales while the opposition snoozes. Our recent study found 52 per cent of families want online customer services to be open all night and at weekends.

And for the dads... 

The property ladder has become un-climbable

Soaring house prices and record rents mean men feel they can no longer provide for their families, with 45 per cent saying their homes aren’t big enough. But DIY ideas geared to men are booming, allowing dads to feel they can wrestle back control of their homes.

The health and safety backlash

The number of new children joining Scouts is at its highest level for almost 40 years and record numbers are signed up to out of school sports. An overwhelming 95% of fathers want their kids to have a childhood less restricted by health and safety rules. The opportunity? Persil’s Dirt Is Good campaign embraced the change and got great buy-in from parents - so when is your brand going to join in the fun?

The meaning of man

With women now the main breadwinner in 41% of UK homes, an unprecedented 48 per cent of dads say their role has altered beyond all recognition. But while 94 per cent say they are coping well with the change, under half of mums agree. Brands that sensitively recognise this and allow men to be men – while understanding their duties as father, husband and in the home - will win out. In the USA, Tide washing powder made waves with its ‘Dad-vertising’ to stay at home dads - but British brands have been slower to react.

Double up dads

A new growth area is offering time and cash-strapped men a way to bond with the family while networking too. Dubbed the ‘Double-Up Dads’, sporting firms like Little Kickers and Rugby Tots have enjoyed rapidly expanded by allowing dads to dual use their time and ease the pressures of family life.

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