Marketing to Moms Amid COVID-19: Seven Insights for Brands

Posted on by Stacy DeBroff

The scream of “MOM” bellows across the house all day, every day. Kids of all ages are no longer going to school, daycare, extra-curriculars or occupied by babysitters. While the family time and chance to grow alongside their children is appreciated, for many mothers it’s a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week job that has moms everywhere feeling emotional and physical fatigue.

Pivoting to the changing state of mom-life isn’t new to brand marketers. From the 1950s image of perfection to the movement of more women entering the workforce to the current-day scenario where women are choosing to stay home if feasible, understanding the collective minds of moms is a winding road with multiple routes, stop signs and proceed-with-caution warnings.

Mothers share a sense of unity with each other right now that is refreshing and a welcome reprieve from the mom-shame wars that have been prevalent in recent years. Word-of-mouth recommendations and turning to one another for tips, vent sessions and virtual companionship influences the way mothers cope with and perceive their situations.

But if marketers thought they understood the modern mother, COVID-19 should deflate that optimism. While bonding in shared exhaustion, many moms profoundly diverge in how the pandemic has impacted their consumer behavior. Some have ramped up cooking more intricate family dinners, others scramble for frozen food substitutes. Some send bored kids to raid the snack pantry, while others have more time to focus on healthy snacking and upping their intake of fruits and vegetables. Moreover, job losses have cut across and impacted all economic demographics.

As eating habits change within households, so, too, do the generalizations many brands use as the tentpoles of their targeted mom consumer profiles and marketing strategy. A family that once focused on well-rounded meals may find itself sneaking snacks from the cupboard, while a family that once relied on quick meals on-the-go may be experimenting with new, home-cooked recipes. Marketing will be in constant evolution throughout the upcoming year as consumers decide which habits to keep and which will return to normal in the coming months.

Influence Central surveyed 630 consumers in May. Of those consumers, 95 percent were females and 66 percent had kids under age 18 living at home with them. The results amplify the fact that COVID-19 will impact consumer behavior now and going forward. It is crucial that brand marketers offer moms help and speak up during this crisis—so they feel that their favorite brands have got their back.

Following are seven unique scenarios experienced by moms today that can inform brands’ marketing strategies.

1. Deals and Discounts Rule the Day

Consider this stat: 88 percent of moms want brand discounts, deals, freebies and cost-saving promotions from brands. Financial concerns play into marketing today across the board, whether she’s the breadwinner or not, most Moms often maintain household purchase budgets and ultimate decisions. Some families may have both parents furloughed or could be paying a daycare they can’t currently use, while losing hours at work at the same time. This is a chance for brands to market accordingly whether it’s in the form of buy-one/get-one free promotions or generic brands stepping up, money matters – especially during times of financial uncertainty.

2. Home-cooked Meals For the Win

Moreover, 88 percent of respondents have been cooking more meals at home since stay-at-home orders went into effect, and 49 percent are now cooking meals from scratch. Trying to find the time to make dinner for one’s family is much less of a hassle when you’re not facing the delays of rush hour. Not to mention, if you’re not going to be leaving the house anyway, drumming up that motivation to go pick up some takeout is not as easy as it once sounded. Baking soda, flour and sugar haven’t had a moment like this since the turn of the new millennium. Rice and beans are a hot commodity. Consumers want to cut down on their trips to the grocery store, so anything that they can store outside of jam-packed freezers has instant appeal, the likes of which these brands have not known in the past couple decades.

3. Calling All Kitchen Gadgets

Kitchen devices have seen a resurgence during this stay-at-home period. While the microwave may be deemed the most valuable according to the consumers we surveyed, not far behind it are similar low-effort options including toasters, coffeemakers and slow-cookers. For the newly-born bakers and baristas among us, cake pans, blenders and hand mixers are experiencing a similar renaissance. With consumers spending more time cooking and baking, many have already purchased or plan on purchasing new small kitchen appliances. Leading the purchase wish list: cake pans, multi-cookers/Instant Pot, stand or hand mixers and a new coffee maker. Valuable kitchen assets moms turn to during this time include microwaves (96 percent), toasters (83 percent), coffeemakers (81 percent), slow-cookers (79 percent), cake pans (74 percent), blenders (68 percent) and stand or hand mixers (62 percent).

4. Appeasing Picky Eaters

Children are notoriously selective when it comes to food and product choices. They are a brands’ greatest critic and most phenomenal promoter, simultaneously. While it’s frustrating for adult consumers not to find their favorite ice cream or for home-bakers to now have to scavenge for yeast, when it comes to an empty shelf of a kids’ favorite food, the challenge is amplified. Not being able to find the exact chicken nugget brand their kid likes results in a dinner-time battle that leaves both mom and kid in tears. According to the survey, more than half of consumers have experienced anxiety over forgetting or not being able to find a specific product at the store. It’s unclear whether a mom who finds a suitable substitute brand for their picky eater will return to the original brand post-pandemic.

5. Online Shopping on the Rise

Rewind two months, the mom (or any guardian) seen pushing a cart full of groceries and kids through the aisles was considered a super woman. Now, women receive dirty looks and even commentary when they run out for a necessary grocery trip with child in tow. In light of this, moms need brands to be readily available both in-store and online. According to the survey, 71 percent of women consumers now shop for groceries less frequently than prior to the pandemic. They need to find what they want at the precise moment they are shopping—and that might mean online rather than in-person.

6. Enter Little Kitchen Helpers

Right now, kids are home all the time. More and more families are turning toward incorporating their children in the kitchen, whether out of necessity to get food on the table or as a form of instructional entertainment. Whether it’s themed kits or safe kitchen tools for children to use, brands need to think about the little chefs of the household. According to the survey, 87 percent of consumers are cooking more meals at home since stay-at-home orders went into effect. Moms do this with their children constantly under foot.

7. Increase in Influencer Content

Moms have tuned in to influencers more than before. According to the survey, 20 percent have increased their time spent seeking out content from influencers and 21 percent increased their time spent finding new influencers to follow. The rest have kept apace of their typical influencer content viewing, staying true to the influencers they trust and have followed for a while.

Food and Recipes: Food content is particularly important to consumers during COVID-19 because they have so much extra time to cook and are eating at home. That said, new and interesting recipes and healthy snack content are high priorities as people try to keep things exciting and balanced.

  • 57 percent crave new recipes that include just a few ingredients.
  • 49 percent want content that will teach them how to use pantry staples to cook.
  • 43 percent want new and interesting recipes.
  • 43 percent want healthy snacking ideas.

Keeping Busy, Fit and Entertained at Home: Consumers are looking to keep themselves busy at home, whether through physical, hands-on activities or mental stimulation. Home activity content is highly sought after.

  • 47 percent desire home organizing and cleaning projects.
  • 45 percent seek arts and crafts ideas.
  • 44 percent want to see educational content and virtual learning ideas.
  • 42 percent crave at-home fitness content.

Many marketers have gone silent during COVID-19, hitting a huge pause button on all their marketing efforts. But there is an opportunity to reach moms who want—and need—brands to be visible during and after the pandemic. Marketers can serve up inspiration, whether it’s recipes, age-appropriate activities for kids, online learning or entertainment. We’re in a time of disruption and find ourselves adapting to this new normal. But moms are constantly adapting—and brands have a chance to leave a lasting impression by providing solutions to their everyday struggles.

 Stacy DeBroff is founder and CEO of Influence Central

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