CLEAN IT UP, TEAM. THE MILLENNIAL MOM IS HERE, AND she’s health-conscious and wired. There are at least 9 million of her, according to a study from the advertising agency Weber-Shandwick, and her buying power and influence will extend to the offspring of the largest generation since the baby boom.
Weber Shandwick presented seven characteristics of the millennial mom:
• Highly connected, with more social media accounts
than moms overall
• Highly influential – they are asked for their opinion a lot, and they offer it unsolicited even more, when compared to total moms
• They talk about products and services – 90 percent of them share information about groceries and food
• They have a different idea of what it means to be a mother – 32 percent are single/never married/not cohabitating with a partner; 33 percent are the top earner
• They split pretty evenly between full-time workers (30 percent); part-time workers (35 percent) and “homemakers” (35 percent)
• They like to outsource – about ¼ said they’d pay $50 per month to manage their busy lives, and about ¹/8 said they’d
go as high as $150
• They are more likely than other moms to share grocery decisions
So in reaching her, your reputation is important, and the delivery method is shifting – they’re wired, and they’ll use other methods of shopping. Put another way, if a category captain gets a highly groomed space in the shelf-stable juice aisle and there’s no one there to see your promo, does it really sell? For brands both old and new, it’s an important tautology.
How, then do you get them, knowing that even if they aren’t making the final purchase decisions, they’re highly influential on their partners and kids? There are the bloggers, for one – a group of more than 14 million mothers – the troops in the army of sharing. While those blogs are by no means unified in their statements, according to experts, a plurality tend to deal with healthy lifestyle and eating choices.
And the key is dialogue, according to another study of millennials that addresses the mom-blogger beat. According to research firm BrandKeys, much of the bond to brands by these groups is an emotional one, rather than a rational one. They’ll be brand loyal as long as they feel they can reach that brand and have a back-and-forth. Internet and mobile devices make information gathering about products an easier process, so the key is to create a social attachment. According to BrandKeys, that means they want to be able to “talk to brands” and “feel listened to” by them.
That’s not the only way, of course, but new brands need to work to get these people to jump from hard-to-beat Capri-Sun and CSD pricing. Fortunately, the powers-that-be are helping to clear the path: the three major fast-food chains have moved away from sodas as an option in their kids meals. That would be even better, of course, if those chains weren’t also losing customers, but nevertheless, it creates the milk-or-water dynamic that many households desire.
And one other place that’s only losing a few customers are schools, and new regulations concerning what can be offered to drink there are definitely on the side of emerging brands – if they can navigate the byzantine rules governing the vending and contract process.
Of course when dealing with lunchboxes, even lower-cost options are on the table – lots of families are moving to tap water or bottled water for their kids, and that doesn’t bode well for entrepreneurs who might be trying to reach the next generation of Whole Foods shoppers.
So they need to make different arguments to reach the millennial mom. Here are some ideas from the marketplace that might influence them to pick up new, different products that are focused on growth:
Your kids can be healthier: that’s the high-end juice drink argument, one made by products like Green Mustache and Daily Greens’ Half Pint line. At nearly $4 apiece, it’s a tough investment – but the concept is that these drinks are also meals or snacks, part of the diet, and accretive to overall health
Your kids don’t have to drink Capri Sun – but they can drink something like it: that’s the brand argument being made by both Honest Tea and Juicy Juice with their Honest Kids and Splashers lines. Now, the price points and the brand values are different, but the restaging of the pouch as a lower sugar, more juice-focused product is a compelling one. (Capri-Sun itself took out high fructose corn syrup earlier this year, although it remains a juggernaut in terms of being a low-cost lunchbox throw-in)
Your kids can drink the brands you drink – Zico Chocolate, Vita Coco Kids, the aforementioned Honest Kids, Rooibee Roo, are all offshoots of products that have strong millennial audiences and are moving toward the next generation through on-ramp products
Your kids can drink what you drink – Similarly, zero-calorie drinks like Sparkling Ice, LaCroix, and low-calorie products like Bai are finding their way into the lunchbox. LaCroix, in particular, is reaching out through Instagram.
Your kids need variety: a study from the American Journal of Pediatrics indicated that more than half the kids aged 6-19 they tested were inadequately hydrated. While water is the best hydration source, according to the study, adding an extra drink for variety can be enough to provide the fluids needed to provide enough hydration. Note that the kids weren’t, as one researcher put it, “dropping like flies,” but that they may have had headaches or been irritable.
Communicate, provide points of difference, and address specific, evolving, beneficial need states and you’ve got a chance. But if you’re going to wade into the kiddie pool, remember, the millennial moms have new rules – and they are plenty willing to blow the whistle.