Tapping Mum’s Emotions

Communicating with mothers has been a desire for many brands in recent years but needs careful, thoughtful planning and navigation.

Last week I attended the second annual Mumstock conference in London. The event, organised by Mumsnet, one of the UK’s most influential parenting sites, was set up to help communicators connect better with mums. It was the first time I attended, and I was keen to hear about new insights and the exciting work brands are doing with their communications to mums.

The sessions kicked off with new research which found that mums want brands to move away from positioning motherhood as a ‘job’ to being about having a meaningful relationship with the family. Mums felt their role was shown to be more functional rather than emotional. Interestingly, more than two thirds wish they could spend more time playing together, having fun and being a friend to their child. Many of them feel like this role currently sits with dad but they want this to change.


When looking more closely at the emotional side, the research pulled out eight roles that mums want to play in the lives of their children. These are ‘carer’, ‘safe house’, which relates to being a protector, ‘fan’, which is about supporting children’s activities, ‘partner in crime’, relating to playing with children, ‘coach’, ‘rule breaker’, ‘hero’, and ‘friend’. I was really interested to hear more about the ‘partner in crime’ and ‘hero’ roles as they sat on the other side of the spectrum.

A third of mums spend most of their time as the carer but 58% wanted to spend more time on this role. This was low compared to the 74% who would like to spend more time being a ‘partner in crime’, while just 8% of mums said they spent time fulfilling this role. ‘Being a hero’ shows a similar story as 15% of mums spend time doing it, but 70% of mums want to pay it more attention, according to the research. The insights have similarities with Zeno’s The Human Project, which explored the values that motivate parents and how they behave. The research highlighted that time with family is the most precious but also the least available for parents.

After this part of the session I heard some great presentations and panel discussions from other brands and how they are engaging with mums including Unilever, Lego, O2, Ella’s Kitchen, Google and ITV Group. Some of the key things I took away were that mums play different emotional roles during each life stage. It changes as children grow up and brands need to understand how to target mums at the right time with the right message and channels. Also discussed was the increasing role digital communications plays in reaching mums and LEGO DUPLO’S Tiny Film Festival was a great example of an exciting new campaign currently underway.

In essence, the key learning for me was for brands and comms agencies to better understand mum’s emotional role in the home, as this will be critical in tailoring messaging and content in a more relevant and engaging way.