Targeting mums through people-based marketing

The mobile revolution has thrust the connected consumer into the spotlight.

Our habits are changing – we’re spending more time on digital devices than TV, consuming increasing amounts of media on the go, and even suffering from a fear of being offline – but so too are our expectations. We now manage our personal lives through personal devices, and we expect everything on those devices – news, videos, even ads – to be individually tailored to our interests.

For most brands, achieving mass reach tends to be prioritised ahead of customisation, with data-based customer segmentation models designed to confirm a high-level assumption about how consumer behaviour differs by demographic. However, such an approach typically provides relatively little in the way of explaining consumer behaviour, offering segments too broad to be of any actionable value.

Demographic segmentation aggregates and assimilates people from disparate life stages into a handful of broad groupings or segments based on shared characteristics. It does not explain why customers behave in the ways they do. In any large population with normal distribution of behaviours, each segment is likely to be a diluted representation of the majority, and is unlikely to provide a meaningful way to increase relevancy. Importantly, valuable customers may occupy the same segment as low value customers due to some shared characteristics. Further, this approach doesn’t allow for the fact that people change. They leave home, they fall in or out of love, they relocate, have childre, the list goes on. These might seem like characteristics too granular and subjective to be of any consequence, but in truth segments need not break up the entire population, just identify and focus on those likely to change usage or purchasing habits.

The alternative is to understand that a main driving force in people’s lives isn’t the characteristics they’re born with but the circumstances they face and choices they make. There are crucial moments in everybody’s life that have a far-reaching impact on their needs, habits and purchasing behaviour. Moments like graduation, marriage and, especially, motherhood. Using data from online baby forums and social media sites such as Facebook to create a more people-based approach to understanding mums affords us some unique insights.

Mothers appear to have different behaviours online than women without children. For example, research by Facebook and Deloitte suggests that mothers tend to be significantly more active on Facebook than non-mothers and possibly more influential. Mothers upload more photos, leave more posts and are connected to more Facebook friends than non-mothers. For example, while women who are not mothers post an average of two photos a week, mothers posted an average of four. And while non-mothers have on average 227 Facebook friends, mothers have 318.

Mothers also tend to watch more video content. This is relevant not only because it indicates that mothers may use more data than the average customer across cellular and WiFi or wired networks, but also because video advertising is becoming a staple part of reaching customers.

Social media data implies that mums, a valuable customer segment, are more receptive to such communication strategies. In order for companies to improve their understanding of their consumers and work towards a more personalised customer experience and target the associated business benefits, we suggest several steps for consideration:

  • Identify loyal customers with high potential total lifetime value who are most important to retain
  • Build a deeper understanding of the life changes that cause these customers to migrate to or from a particular brand or product
  • Construct segments based around those life changes and map the customer’s life journey
  • Identify in-house and external data along that journey to enable personalised segmentation
  • Create tailored offerings that bring more value to these customers
  • Reach out and tell consumers about these offerings via the channels they prefer, BEFORE they migrate to a new product or service