What can marketers learn from the BabyCenter & IAB State of Modern Motherhood Report 2015?


The BabyCenter and IAB State of Modern Motherhood Report 2015 tells marketers a lot about understanding millennial mums – Carat’s Lizzy Spenceley picks out the key points.

Lizzy Spenceley Lizzy Spenceley Assistant Carat BabyCenter Millennials social millennial mums iab tech trends marketing

The outdated view of mothers as ‘just mothers’ has been steadily losing steam in the world of advertising over the last decade or so. This is obviously a wonderful thing, but it does leave marketers with two important questions; who is the modern mother? And how do we target her?

These are questions BabyCenter tackle annually in their ‘State of Modern Motherhood Report’ and this year the first answer was clear. The modern mother is a millennial. 

While this may seem slightly shocking to someone of my generation (a millennial myself) the stats speak for themselves. The average age of a first time mum is now 28.3 and of the c. 788k births taking place in the UK each year, 75% of them are to millennials. This trend continues globally.

So with most new mums now aged 18-32, what are the important things marketers need to know when engaging this highly valuable audience?

Before she was a mum, she was a millennial

As with most mothers, when a millennial has a baby, her fundamental values shifts. Goals and inspirations become less career driven and her social life becomes less of a priority. Being a good role model became 40% more important, while raising a healthy child and maintaining a good marriage/relationship were both up 84% and 80% respectively in terms of importance. 

However, a millennial mum is still a millennial, and accordingly tends to be far less traditional than her Gen X counterparts.

MMs look to digital to support their parenting reality. MMs are more likely to seek advice from parenting websites (58%) than from their or their partner’s mother (51%), while parenting/baby apps (38%) and mum blogs (36%) have overtaken traditional sources of parenting information, e.g. books (16%) and health care providers (14%). This shift is significant to marketers.

The millennial mum strives for perfection and seeks validation

Once a millennial becomes a mum, she has more to do and less time to do it in than ever before, and also tends to be stretched financially. 

On top of these strains, MMs strive for perfection, and are under new and very modern pressures. The rise of social media has contributed to this, with apps such as Instagram often creating an illusion of perfection many feel is unachievable in real life. So 64% of MMs state that they feel enormous pressure to achieve perfection and 2 in 5 say they feel social media intensifies the pressure they already feel.

However, there are benefits to social media, and MMs do not always feel like they are falling short. 8 in 10 MMs say their lives are busy but still fun, and social media can help mums feel less isolated, especially when home with a newborn.

Understanding the pressures MMs face and how they see themselves is key to understanding what they want from brands and products. 

Relevancy is the new authenticity

Motherhood unsurprisingly shifts purchase criteria for 6 in 10 MMs. Mums want products that are relevant to their situation, e.g. they are time/energy strapped and want to make quick and easy decisions. 

When asked what criteria were important when making everyday purchases, the most important factor, with 74% of MMs stating so, was goods being ‘convenient to purchase’. 

When it comes to bigger purchases, mums seek information and validation online, including recommendations by other parents and online reviews. 

This shift from authenticity to relevancy is drastic and sudden, and MMs’ new purchase criteria requires a new approach from marketers. Brands must make themselves available in the short window this shift in purchase criteria creates; grabbing mothers in the moment of truth and helping them simplify the purchase process.

Motherhood means mobile

Just like any other millennial, you cannot separate a MM from their mobile. Smartphones go shopping with mums, with 3 in 5 MMs using their phones in-store to search for better prices elsewhere (63%) or for texting photos to other people for opinions (49%) etc. 

Overall, MMs spend 7.1 hours a day online, and while 76% regularly use a laptop, 93% rely on their smartphones. They multi-screen, with 89% saying they regularly send/read texts while watching TV. They also browse the internet (79%), read/post to social media and search for/read information about advertisements they see on TV (32%); behaviour which lends itself to a multitude of cross screen advertising opportunities. 

MMs spend 50% more time online on their phone than Gen X mums; 26% are more likely to pay attention to digital ads, and 51% are more likely to pay attention to ads on their smartphones. 

This suggests mobile should be front and centre of any campaign aimed at MMs.

In summary the key things marketers need to remember about millennial mums are:

  • Becoming a mum does not make a millennial less of a millennial.
  • Motherhood may change her priorities, but she is still a digitally savvy consumer.
  • Millennial mums reward brands who get their ‘where, when, how’.


BabyCenter used information gathered from Friendship Groups (mums 21-32 by stage e.g. first time pregnant/first time mum/experienced mums), an in-depth Survey (Global Motherhood Survey feat. 1,880 UK mums) and 3rd Party Sources (e.g. population estimates, audience measurement and childcare costs)

Lizzy Spenceley Lizzy Spenceley Assistant Carat BabyCenter Millennials social millennial mums iab tech trends marketing
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