By Candace Huntly
In the past few years, there has been a huge shift in how brands market to parents. It’s not surprising considering how much parenting has changed in general. Marketing campaigns used to focus on this unattainable picture of the perfect parent, whether it was a mom immediately postpartum – in full “woke up like this” mode with makeup and a fresh blowout or a family enjoying breakfast together in the morning – fully dressed and ready and eternally happy to be up early. While those pictures seem really out of reach, there is also the harmful perpetual stereotype of the useless dads that are the butt of every joke when in reality, dads are stepping up more and more. Brands are starting to paint a more realistic picture so consumers can actually imagine themselves using the product or service.
Parents come in all shapes and sizes from a high-powered attorney to a couple living off the grid. And, while there are a group of people who don’t agree, the traditional family structure has been replaced with a more inclusive and accepting definition. As a brand, it’s your job to get to know your target audience well enough so you can use the right messages and the right channels to reach them in the most effective ways possible.
The Influencer Effect
The shift to reality from unattainable parenting pictures can be partially attributed to so many influencers that are rejecting the idea that life as a parent has to be perfect. They know their audience. Brands – if they aren’t already – should sit up and take notice. A few influencers that are embracing the beauty in imperfection are influencers like Sarah Nicole Landry (AKA thebirdspapaya), Chrissy Teigen, and The GG Sisters.
My top Four favourite parent-focused marketing campaigns
From influencer campaigns, to TV ads, to experiential events, here are a few brands connecting with parents in the right ways.
Huggies: No Baby Unhugged
This is not a new campaign, but it’s still a really effective campaign because it has evolved over time. The Huggies “No Baby Unhugged” campaign launched in 2015 as a way to educate people on the importance of not only skin-to-skin contact, but also just the power of human touch when it comes to a baby’s emotional and overall healthy development. They tapped into a very emotional time for new parents that can be very overwhelming with emotions and information in general. The idea of a hug was already built into their brand, but they created a community of parents around the idea. They also supported a cause that everyone could get behind. As part of their campaign, they started volunteer newborn hugging programs in partner hospitals to support babies in the NICU when their parents couldn’t be there. They have also started working with a number of both mom and dad influencers to help share their stories.
Key Takeaway: Create an emotional connection with your audience. You could tap into a specific defining moment in their lives or things like nostalgia or a goal to work towards. Regardless, your marketing should invoke a positive emotional connection to be memorable and build loyalty.
P&G: My Black Is Beautiful “The Talk”
Racial bias is an issue that affects so many people in very negative ways. While it’s great that there are more people calling out this toxic behaviour, the reality is until everyone is viewed as equal, black parents will continue to have to have “The Talk” with their kids to help them understand that there is prejudice in the world and that it’s not their fault.
The My Black Is Beautiful Campaign launched in 2007 in response to a study that was done that indicated that almost 80% of black women thought they were portrayed negatively in the media.
Key Takeaway: Listen to your audience. As a brand, it’s your job to ensure you are connecting with your target audience in ways that make sense. One of the best things you can do is ask questions. Even better? Actually taking what your audience says into account and adjusting your strategy to fit.
Goldieblox: “Princess Machine”
I am a sucker for anything that shows that any kid can grow up to be whatever they want to be. Unfortunately, there are still so many people that think girls can’t grow up to be scientists, engineers, or anything that is traditionally a “man’s profession.” Enter Goldieblox. Their first video, “Princess Machine,” went viral (in spite of the fact that they used a Beastie Boys song that they weren’t allowed to use). The simple message was not only empowering for young girls, but it also helped to reinforce that parents should let their kids grow up to be what they want to be.
Key Takeaway: A message of empowerment goes a long way – but it’s best to keep it simple. Don’t overexplain things and definitely don’t oversell. Sometimes marketing is just supposed to touch on the side of visibility and awareness so that they think of you first when they are ready to buy.
As a brand, Knix is working to empower women to embrace themselves as they are, so it’s really easy to get behind that! What’s interesting is their campaign connecting with influencers – many who talk about parenting in the context of finding themselves and rediscovering their own power after having kids. Not only are they yelling from the rooftops that who you are is just perfect, but they are making it ok for women to say it out loud. A lot of the mom influencers who have participated in the campaign actually talk about how they want their daughters to grow up seeing their mom as a strong role model – and that means loving yourself just as you are.
Key Takeaway: Stand for something and don’t apologize for it. Your audience will rally behind you and you will create a community. If you are looking to get the word out past your own reach, connect with influencers that have the same values that you do. It matters so much that up to 44% of parents actually only seek out brands that share the same values they do. Not only is it great to see people enjoying what you have to offer, you can tap into their own creative storytelling to really see your brand story evolve into something exciting.
Marketing to parents doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require you to really listen to what they have to say. Everyone has less and less time to make decisions, but factor kids into the mix and you are juggling a lot more. The key is to be where they are, talk their language, and make the decision easy for them.
If you really aren’t sure where to start, or what you’ve tried isn’t working, email us at email@example.com and we’ll chat.