Marketing to mums - the same as it ever was...?

Another week, another article on 'marketing to mums' - or this time, at least 'marketing to modern families' - courtesy of Jen Smith from Maxus, in The Drum.

The thinking behind the article concludes that families have changed, but marketing to them hasn't. It doesn't really offer any answers other than 'don't show 1950s style domestic bliss in your ads', but suggests that brands 'have a role to play' in assuaging parental anxiety and guilt. 

I'm not so sure about this. I think there are things that brands could do better, and it's not to do with assuaging my guilt. 

Two things have struck me over the past few months. The first is that the main mode of marketing to mums seems to be via paper avalanche - by bombarding you with so much stuff that you really can't ignore it. 

The second is that the marketing is still to mums. Bounty packs, Emma's Diary, the endless catalogues that seem to pour through the door - ads for milk, nappies and anything related to a happy household is still overwhelmingly aimed at the mother. In fact, I don't 'think my husband has received ONE SINGLE ITEM with his name on it, discussing his role as a father and what stuff he might like to buy to celebrate that fact.

Both of these things are incredibly annoying. 

Those bits of paper, just as all bits of paper that come though the letterbox, go in the bin.

Catalogues are flicked through, same as ever. Samples and vouchers are saved. The way we buy baby things, from a travel cot to a baby bank account are still the same. We do some research, check the reviews and then go and buy it. The purchase funnel hasn't changed. On the day I returned to my office, post baby, I filled a bag for life with bits of baby related paper shit that had been piling up by my desk. A bag for life! That's a lot of paper.

The second of those points seriously annoys me. I am the principle driver of baby purchases in our household. Why is this? Because my husband has yet to take his month of shared parental leave - and as such, I know what our daughter needs on a day to day basis. Currently, for a dad to take even a month off is considered unusual.

Why is this? Probably because the mother is still seen as the main caregiver.

And why is this? Because of the images we receive that tell us baby wrangling is still a woman's work. *Gritted teeth emoji*

Brands do have work to do. They need to stop assuming we have nothing better to do than to sift through 50 leaflets and assess each of their individual merits. 

They need to start to represent a more even and fair world - and that means talking to fathers AND mothers - and not assuming that every family has both of these. 

And finally, they need to simply concentrate on making great products. The day I came home from a trip to town with a tiny baby (gruelling), pleased with my 2 for 1 nappies from a well known major high street chemist - only to discover that the sticky tabs that hold the nappy closed (a fairly essential element of any nappy) just bloody well fell off every single nappy in the pack - was the day I told every single one of my friends not to waste their money there.

Similarly, the fact that I'm considering buying a stupidly expensive travel cot is down to the fact that a friend has one, and it's lasted her four years. And also because the reviews are amazing, the cot is well designed, easy to put up and comfortable for the baby. It's easy - and when most of your purchases are made at 3am on your iPhone - easy, well designed products that definitely make your life easier will always win out.