The 'Juggling' Mother is past her sell-by date
Much of the language brands have been using to speak to mums has been around the challenges they face and the need to constantly juggle the multiple demands on their time. Brands that have been communicating in these Western-focussed terms have focussed on efficiency, time-saving and convenience, even to the point of elevating mum's freedom from her children as the goal - see, for example, B&Q's bathroom ad
from the end of last year - ' Me-Time' has been communicated as the ultimate reward.The Future Mum as Choreographer
In the future, we see Mums as less obsessed with the holy grail of 'Me Time' and striving for more 'Together Time', with their children, partners, friends, in a more flexible family unit. With the digital age eroding attention spans and creating atomised ways of living, there will be a desire to bring back the rituals and connections that have become overlooked. This tension is being felt globally. 'Women in Saudi are experiencing considerable psychological stress from a widespread feeling that family ties are slowly unravelling and relationships are being re-negotiated,' said Stuart Campbell-Morris at the Marketing to Women in the Middle East Conference 2010.
To combat this atomisation, mums will use small social rituals to strengthen the ties that bind people together. Brands can recognise mum's skill in choreographing these social rituals, creating spontaneous moments of connection, and working behind the scenes to magic up 'together time'. Examples of this trend include the iconic John Lewis 'Always a Woman'
advert and KFC's 'So Good'
TVC. The Mobile Mum
Mums are no longer static and introspective 'home-makers'. They are the moving, mobile hub of the family: home is wherever mum is. Historically, mums have been seen as laggards in the technology space. However, smartphone ownership among mums in the US has increased by 64 percent in the last two years.1
Saudi mums are spending many hours a day on their mobiles. Not only are mums embracing smartphones, but they're also adept with the tools and technologies which come with them. Mums are 40 percent more likely to use mobile social networking tools than the average smartphone owner. And the camera and video camera top their list of favorite features.2
Mothers have become in some ways the most demanding consumers in this space, looking for intuitive functions, entertainment on-the-go (75 percent of mums regularly hand their smart phones to their children) and organisational diary management. The future of motherhood is more about celebrating and encouraging connections (including those that are technology enabled) rather than closing the door to protect their own time and space from the hostile influence of technology.The Social Networking Mum
The modern mum is an avid social networker, whether it be on Mumsnet in the UK, Indiaparenting.com and Babycentre in India, commenting on the blogs of celebrity mums in Japan or Liba.com and babytree.com in China. Why will forums and mum-hubs become such important places to be? Firstly, because globally women are getting married later, studying longer, delaying leaving home, having children later and divorcing more. No longer is there a linear, cumulative route towards motherhood, and no longer is there one universal experience of motherhood that happens at a particular point in one's life. What the mum-hubs do is allow the formation of communities over specific and targeted aspects of motherhood rather than the overall state of being a mum... so very different types of mums can bond over little episodes of motherhood whether they be joyful or anxiety-inducing.Concluding thought
Much has been made of women's global ascendancy with the discourse focusing on women and men in a struggle for financial and social dominance. This does not ring true on a global stage for the new generation of mothers. Internationally, the shift is towards self-appraisal rather than a continual comparison to men.
'Most advertising discourse to women centres on victories in a man's world... [but] she is watching her own steps more than the shoulders of her male counterparts.' Dheeraj Sinha, Consumer India.1 Baby Centre, 21st Century Mobile Mom Report, 2011
2 Baby Centre, 21st Century Mobile Mom Report, 2011Kirsty Fuller is Group CEO of global insight consultancy Flamingo