Thinking beyond mums: routes to meaningful engagement with parents

March 01, 2021

Tapping into pester power can be a lucrative business. Anyone with children will tell you that their empty bank balance is because it becomes second nature to spend without question on anything that you believe will enhance your life as a family, and most importantly, bring great memories.  


As a first time parent I joke that some brands are actually laughing at me when I part with cash for things I think will be useful, educational and helpful. In fact they are a complete waste of money, and the lucrative world of the parent influencer on social media is in on the laughs.  


Garnering trust among parents is therefore crucial. While most market segments will forgive a worthless purchase, mess around with an overtired parent and ruin their day and you will never, ever be forgiven.  


It may seem obvious, but parents don’t just want to be talked to as the keeper of small people. Yes, mum and dad influencers do make up a significant portion of our media consumption, but it is traditional media that has the power to inspire our brains and inject a connection with the rest of the world. Daytime TV gets a bad press for being catnip to mums, but in reality it’s the company of magazine shows and radio chitter chatter that keeps us company in days crammed with lonely feeds when adult conversation is lacking. Media relations activity to target this sector should absolutely be part of any integrated campaign talking to parents.  


In fact, mums are probably some of the highest consumers of media in all its forms. The challenge is having a message and campaign that drives action in a time-starved lifestyle. That is where social media performs exceptionally with endless opportunities to swipe up and buy. It should take seconds to transact and barriers simply mean there is more time for an interruption and something more important taking over. The simplicity of the user journey is everything. 



Inspiring our whole family is important. There are radio stations, magazines and digital platforms with media aimed at children. Don’t underestimate the impact a brand can have by positively engaging children. Impress our smalls and we are sold, no further questions asked. In our work with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers – aimed to target commuters during the week and families exploring at the weekends – we’ve purposefully engaged media such as children’s radio stations in the launch of new boats and services.  


Glossy parenting social media influencers who don’t represent the gore, mess and tears of parenthood are to be avoided by any brand who wants to target real life families. The social media veneer is wearing very thin in this category. Instead look for those who aren’t as polished and don’t buy into perfect parenting. 


Be practical about what you can and can’t do for parenting. When we launched restaurant No Fifty Cheyne, the family-friendly vibe and facilities weren’t the number one push despite the parents of Chelsea being key to bringing in daytime revenue. Parents are their own people first, and of course want stylish restaurants and first-class experiences. We are just a little more comfortable spending anything left over from the childcare and Legosomewhere where children are also made fiercely welcome. 


The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated trends in the shifting role of successful parent influencers. Home-schooling and caring for children means many parents have been lumbered as a forgotten force with 47 per cent of mums quitting work during the pandemic because of caring responsibilities, compared to 13 per cent of dads.  




 Influencers worth their salt are using their platforms to educate, campaign and support positive change. Brands need to respond and contribute to meaningful conversations. Their voice – and marketing spend – has the power to increase the impact of these important debates. The influencer who doesn’t positively contribute is not worth the investment.  


The changing role of the home over the last year as nursery, office, classroom, soft play and date night provider all in one place is not to be underestimated. Our cramped homes have to deliver so much more and brands can cut through by being relevant to these new realities. It’s no surprise that visitor attractions have been some of the fastest and most creative in providing home schooling content. When restrictions ease, these venues need families to pour through their doors on wet Tuesdays in winter 2022. It’s clever move to drive loyalty and engagement now, ensuring regular custom for years to come.  


Our interior design client Benji Lewis, who founded the innovative Zoom That Room on the advent of lockdown, has used his social platforms and media voice to inspire people to fall in love with their homes again. Of course, this has meant ensuring content reflects how parents live and has included providing lifeline tips on how to create corners of solace and retreat in chaotic households. Digital marketing to parents in these times is raw and real, but should not be without aspiration and glimpses of treats.  


And finally, its somewhat disappointing to have to say this in 2021, but do not assume that all families revolve around a white middle class mum and a dad. Parents are united in wanting a kinder world that celebrates differences for their future generations. We are bringing up our children not to tolerate the stale norms that often confront us and there are some brands that really need to keep up. 


For more information on how we can help your brand break through the noise, stay relevant and tell your story in an honest and authentic way.


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