Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Want To Reach Moms? Consider This...

As the economic crisis continues, so does the hibernating. We are becoming more of a "hiber-nation" as families hunker down to weather the storm with more time spent at home and less out spending at malls and restaurants. (Movie sales are up but that's an annex of the hibernation cave that helps us to escape for a few hours).

With families spending more time together at home, they are slowing down, bonding differently and discovering joy in spending real time together. Moms are enjoying the experience of a stronger family unit. And, as head of domestic purchasing, Moms are finding strength and are taking pride in not buying.

As Americans, we have been weaned on consuming; it's part of our lifeblood. However, the gatekeeper badge of honor has shifted from "I got such a deal" to "I haven't bought anything new in weeks" or "I've switched from buying expensive shoes to a simple lipstick." American mothers are meeting the challenge and expressing the thought that, "this is hard but, ultimately, it's a good thing for my family -- we are pulling together, spending more time together. It's less about accumulating stuff. It feels more real."

There is a sea change afoot, and it is defined by a new set of consumer values. It's actually an old set of Puritanical values that is roaring back with renewed strength. You take stock of what you have, you take very good care of it and you make it last as long as possible. It's a sensibility that embraces the "It's not what you earn, it's what you don't spend" attitude. And when you do buy, you buy only what you know and trust, and you trust it deeply. The culture of responsibility that felt old-fashioned 18 months ago now feels stabile, secure and appealing today.

So what's a marketer to do? If you are in the business of selling things, how do you sell to Mom's new mindset?

New-fangled and novel will always capture a certain amount of attention, especially in categories such as electronics and beauty. But deep roots and time-tested can present key opportunities for great old American brands that frankly, felt 'fuddy-duddy' and past their prime in the 21st century. And, when they were in their prime, they marketed to the quintessential '50s housewife versus the modern, dimensional woman of today.

As Mom watches her family reconnect and recommit itself to spending real time together, great American brands have the opportunity to get real and tap their heritage. Marketers should not only mirror this value shift but truly embrace it. If done with ingenuity and authenticity, a brand's heritage story can become valid and compelling once again.

This new set of consumer values will be responsive to:
* Truth and transparency
* Virtue-based attributes
* Ethically minded culture
* Good foundations
* Good value -- not just a cheap or a good buy
* Local support -- community involvement

And finally, go back to the old recipes -- get back to your good old roots both in product and communications. Too much has been taken away from the winning formulas that made great American brands great in order to maximize profits. Products often don't taste or work as well as they originally did.

Stop making substitutions for the real, good ingredients and materials. Get rid of what's artificial. Moms want real, not a chemistry lab on their breakfast table. The litmus test is, if you can sell it to a New England farmer's wife, then you've got something.
(source: mediapost.com, Kyla Lange Hart, 3/18/09)

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