Mother’s Day is Shifting. Are You Keeping Up?

This year, consumer spending for Mother’s Day is expected to hover around $20 billion, making it perhaps the second biggest consumer spending holiday. But brands beware – when it comes to the 2014 Mom, you shouldn’t be putting all of your eggs (sorry Easter) in one basket.

Recent Wharton School research suggests that 37 percent fewer women plan to have children than 20 years ago (Friedman, 2013). Couple that with the fact that women are waiting until later in life to have children; it begs the question, where does this leave Mother’s Day? Is it shrinking or stalling? How does this impact connecting with moms as a whole?

With a potentially shrinking market of new mothers to target, there’s a very clear message for brands: Mother’s Day can’t be the holiday you hang your marketing hat on. Your connection to and with Mom is even more significant and must be expressed year-round. Every day has to be Mother’s Day.

It’s imperative that brands and marketers create a true connection with Mom, not just around Mother’s Day. Moms need to be thought of throughout the year in ways that demonstrate that a brand truly “gets” her. It’s not about the flowers and chocolates on Mother’s Day, per se; it’s about understanding that moms need help, solutions, answers and to feel supported. Brands can do this by following the drivers of true friendship. They need to stop thinking about selling products or services, and start positioning themselves as a friend, stewarding a friendship that is celebrated year-round.

By leveraging the key drivers of friendship to build affection, relevance and trust, brands set themselves apart. Eric Mower + Associates’ Brand as Friend® philosophy proposes that specific drivers create meaningful and lasting relationships. This approach directly translates to marketing to moms, around Mother’s Day and the whole year through.

Here are a couple of Brand as Friend drivers that serious marketers should consider, and highlights of some brands who’ve done it well:

  • Surprise: Brands can build Affection through surprise. Stop and think about which marketing campaigns have truly surprised you in the past year. Chances are, the brand that surprised you won you over a little. And you told friends. And maybe you shared it, socially. We love what American Greetings did with its most recent “World’s Toughest Job” viral campaign that surprised millions, generating more than 15.7 million YouTube views in just days in April 2014. What they did so brilliantly was create a campaign that resonated with people everywhere, with a reminder of how important Mom is. A campaign so compelling, people would want to do something special for Mom… like using American Greeting’s Cardstore site to create a Mother’s Day card.
  • Connecting: Whether it’s connecting your target to others like you, or other brands you like, brands that create connections build Relevance. Kudos to Boba for creating a cut-through, talked-about and shared approach in 2014 that won the hearts of moms, connected the brand to moms, and connected moms to other moms. They took inspiration for the creation of this video from their own community of moms, using real-life anecdotes and quotes for inspiration.
  • Honesty: Perhaps the greatest lesson to all marketers and brands is the importance of honesty. Very simply, being honest and authentic builds Trust. And trust is critical to creating meaningful, successful relationships – whether with friends or between brands and consumers. You have to give McDonalds Canada credit with its “Our Food. Your Questions.” campaign. It allows consumers to ask any question about how their food is made and they will answer it honestly. They are completely transparent, which builds trust.

The lesson to marketers here is two-fold:

  1. Think about and value moms and your relationship with moms, not just around Mother’s Day, but throughout the year. Understand that the New Mom market could be shrinking or at the very least stalling, which makes it even more important to become a relevant part of her life.
  2. Work on your relationship with Mom. Build Affection, Relevance and Trust by keying in on the drivers that make you a true friend to her.

Become her friend for life. For more information on building stronger relationships with moms, contact me at sgingerich@mower.com.