Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Smiggle – the word is spreading

“Have you been? Your two would love it”

We know there’s nothing more powerful than parent to parent recommendation, the power of conversation between two people who trust each other (92% trust friends and family recommendation over any other form of advertising). And when that power is combined with a fresh approach to the high street and something kids love we know there’s a new hit on the horizon.

 (Credit: mallcribs.com)

Smiggle. It’s where a smile meets a giggle. Either that means absolutely nothing to you and I’ve just taught you a new word. Or you’ve broken out in a cold sweat as you know exactly what it means, your kids are obsessed with it and your bank balance is suffering as a result. 

For those not in the know Smiggle are an Australian retail brand that sell colourful stationery, bags, lunchboxes and drink bottles. If you’re a stationery addict you’ll love it, if you’re the parent of a kid who is a collector or loves bright, shiny things then you’re bound to be in store very soon.

I had a teeny stationery habit when I was a teenager (I don't think a collection of 120 rubbers is too much?) which a. may have strayed into my adult life – see picture below and b. obviously is genetic as my kids have the same problem. 

My local store hasn't even opened yet so we’re off to explore the Manchester store next week…I’ve already bumped the limit up on my credit card. 

The first UK Smiggle opened in 2014 and there are now 67 stores in the UK with plans to have 220 by the end of 2018.  But you might be wondering how I heard about Smiggle when I haven’t even stepped foot in one.  It all started with that line, ‘Have you been? Your two would love it’.

Lynne (MumPanel founder) has a daughter the same age as mine and they have a common love of stationery. Lynne mentioned Smiggle in passing a couple of times over the last few weeks and then when we were discussing Christmas trends she said the Smiggle calendar would be the big thing. At this point Smiggle weren’t even on my radar, I hadn’t seen anything online and we didn't have a local store so my trusted mum friends weren’t talking about it.

So Lynne filled me in and as we were going to a meeting she pointed out the Manchester Arndale store (trust me you won’t miss it and neither will your kids!). I immediately knew that my daughters would love it but it would also be useful for me because I could get back to school kit, birthday presents for their friends and cheap pocket money treats.  Win win.

Then the power of word of mouth took over. I had information from a trusted source so I took that and shared it with my friends, who shared it with their friends. And all the time Lynne was sharing it with her friends, who shared it with theirs, and theirs and theirs. Until it’s reached thousands of people. The power of one single conversation is spreading the word about Smiggle. And it’s happening in a natural but trusted way driven by parents desire to share information.

When we work on spreading the word campaigns clients sometimes don’t understand how a small team of well-connected amplifiers can successfully get the word out there. But that’s all you need – if your product, service or concept is good the power of one conversation amplified many times over does the work for you. And although there's a trend at the moment to only talk about online and celebrity influencers you have to carefully consider where you audience are (what about those who don't have a facebook profile?) and who they really listen to. Remember that 92% of parents trust friends and family recommendation over any other form of advertising.

The power of word of mouth can be hard to harness but if you know the right people to start conversations it can create loyal customers and put more money in the till.

We’d love to hear about the products or places you heard about from other mums or your experience of Smiggle.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Fitbits & Sausages

This time last year mums were spreading the word and their recommendations for Aldi Prosecco. They were raving about the taste and price and telling other mums about it. So what’s getting mums talking and giving recommendations in 2016?


Have you done your 10,000 steps today? Mums asked for Fitbits for Christmas and birthday presents. It’s part of our attempt to get fit and keep motivated but also a way to compare sleep deprivation! It’s a talking point everywhere, from fitness classes to the school playground.


How often do you find a product that’s low fat, tastes great and the kids will eat too? Heck have filled in an unexpected gap in the market with their range of sausages and burgers. They’ve been making sausages for a long time but just a couple of years ago developed the Heck brand and have an avid social media following. Mums are making trips to certain supermarkets to source their products and ordering online. They continue to tap into what mums want with the recent launch of a vegetarian range.

Aldi’s Mamia

In the last few years the big boys, Pampers and Huggies have had to compete with supermarket own brands (Asda own nappies were a mum favourite for a long time). But now Aldi (and Lidl) are grabbing mum market share with nappies that don’t leak, are comfy and cheaper than their branded rivals. Aldi have cleverly championed their products with mums, offering quality and value.


If you haven’t heard about it then ask your kids. It’s an app where you can make your own music videos. What kids seem to love is the interactive element of it. It’s a current tween craze, even though it’s only for 13+, so mums are talking about it. We’re trying to understand it, decide if our kids can use it and figure out where technology is going next.

What mums are saying about other products

“My go to at the moment is Costa coffee, and I know lots of other mums who can't do without their Costa fix.”

“At the school gate and on social media I’m hearing lots about meal replacements like Huel and C9 for weight loss. But there’s also a massive backlash against making women feel bad about their bodies and unrealistic expectations."

"My kids and their classmates are obsessed with collecting Beanie Boos. I think they are weird but as a cheap treat I’m quite happy to purchase them.”

Make sure you’ve got your ear to the mum grapevine as their trends will drive sales and footfall. And if you manage to find their sweet spot you’ll have all the word of mouth ambassadors you’ll ever need.

If you'd like to know more about how we can help you hear what mums want call us on 0161 413 4717.

Friday, 4 March 2016

‘A hug and a cup of tea’

It’s Mothers Day on Sunday (just in case you’ve forgotten!) and we asked our mums what that meant to them.

Over 90% said they celebrated it in their household and when asked what it meant to them the overwhelming response was spending time with their family and about appreciation – of their own mum, their kids and themselves. 

‘A day to realise how much I appreciate my mum and my daughter to appreciate me (hopefully!)’

With that appreciation came relaxing – with over half saying they get to relax more…

‘Hopefully a lie in!! Possibly breakfast in bed ... A day to stop & enjoy being a mum.’

However, on the flip side 50% said they didn’t get to relax anymore than usual…

‘I'm still mum!’

‘Have to fit tow family visits into one day so no one is disappointed.’

Overall the wants of mums were not commercialised or grand.  Homemade cards were at the top of the ‘hope to receive’ list closely followed by breakfast in bed and flowers. It also included kids behaving themselves, a sunny day and no hassles! Ideal Mothers Day for some mums were:

‘A long nap and a long hot and undisturbed bath’

‘Kids sleep in too so I get a cuddle and my partner then takes them off to prepare my surprise. No-one argues or fights ALL day’

‘Time with my children and my mum having a nice meal’

The brand that was most associated with Mothers Day was Thornton’s – perhaps it was a brand that stretched across the generations and was seen as traditional.

However, not every mum feels like celebrating or can, for some it is a sad time missing their mum who has passed away. For others they may not have the same support or partner to let them enjoy Mothers Day.

I think brands are beginning to (or should) link these occasions with the more emotional, and simplistic aspects, engaging with their audience more. Caring. With the philosophy of less is more - sometimes.

Brands who help with hand made cards, the ideal breakfast in bed  menu and little presents that matter will win through.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Over 1500 responses via MumPanel Survey on 9th March 2016.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Sugar Summit - 5 key consumer trends

Over 3,000 UK people aged 8-90 years old took part in our in-depth sugar summit ethnographic and quantitative insight - looking at what people are really thinking and doing about sugar. Below are the key discoveries.

1. The sugar awakening 

In the last 12 months the UK government, medical governing bodies and celebrity chefs have raised concerns about the amount of sugar us Brits are consuming. This has resulted in sugar now being the top ingredient that people take note of on ingredients and 3 out of 5 adults actively making an effort to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet. People have woken up to sugar and not just to fizzy drinks and sweets but to apparent ‘hidden sugars’ in products, with 69% concerned about the amount of sugar in cereal and 40% in bread.

2. State of confusion

The sugar awakening has to led to many consumers questioning labelling on products, being confused about how much sugar they should be consuming in a day and what is deemed ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sugars - if there is such a thing. 2/3’s of people feel brands don’t clearly let consumers know about the amount of sugar in products and are confused by media messages. As one consumer said , ‘messages can be very confusing; 5 a day v’s low salt v’s low sugar v’s no additives – what advice do we take?

3. The counter revolution

The focus on sugar has led to the spotlight also being shone on the alternatives, such as sweeteners. Over the last 5 years we have heard rumblings of distrust of sweeteners, such as Aspartame, from parents. There is a growing group of consumers who would prefer products to contain sugar (64%) rather than sweeteners, as they worry about the ‘unknown’ effects of sweeteners or just prefer the taste of sugar.

4. Taking responsibility 

Many people we talked to felt responsibility for the amount of sugar we eat as a nation should be shared between the manufacturers, regulatory bodies and personal responsibility. 50% felt that people needed to take more ownership of the sugar they and their family’s consume and be active in trying to change their habits for the better.

5. Education and clarity 

The increased awareness, confusion and want to action has led to an overwhelming majority of people (96%) asking for better education on sugar in foods and drinks - for adults as well as kids. They want clearer and simpler labelling and that manufactures should reduce the amount of sugar in products gradually. Many don’t want sugar replaced with even sweeter sweeteners - instead they want the nations palette to adjust to a less sweet diet.

P.S. Overall, most people said it was about achieving a balance. They don't want to be eating ‘sugar’ free birthday cake or munching on a celery stick while watching X Factor. Sugar has it’s place and it’s an enjoyable, fun and feel good time. However, it should be in moderation.

If you would like our full Sugar Summit infographic please contact me at lynne@agentwithin.com and for more about our parent company, Agent please go to www.agentwithin.com 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

There is more to being mum

We keep hearing it, experiencing and saying it – but it’s something that’s worth repeating. There’s more to being a mum than being a mum. Behind that title of ‘mum’ is an individual, a person who has her own set of wants and needs. She has to balance that with the needs of her family but her own (often strong) preferences play into her decision-making.

We’ve just carried out some research with our MumPanel of 10,000 mums across the UK and this is what is at the top of their mind at the moment (and some of their thoughts aren’t quite as mumsy as you’d think…).

  • The election is a hot topic at the moment. We don’t tend to find mums discussing it in the playground but it’s definitely something they think about – both on a personal level and also how it might affect their family. 88% of mums said they’re going to vote in the general election but even at this late stage 45% haven’t decided who they’re going to vote for. That could mean that mums are the most influential group in determining who’s next in line for government.
  • Mums have fun and ‘me time’ too. Mums might not have bags of free time but they still manage to fit in their hobbies and interests. When we asked our MumPanel, half play sport regularly (swimming, running, netball and bootcamp). One third said they regularly holidayed without their kids, two-thirds go to comedy shows or theatre, 40% drink alcohol every week and 75% do DIY (not sure that is always fun!).  It’s not just empty nesters that have ‘me time’, so don’t forget mums when you’re marketing recreational and escape products and services.
  • Mums and kids share. Mums share products, experiences and wants with their kids.  They might buy breadsticks and yoghurts for the kids but find they like them. And so the next time they’re buying for themselves as well as the kids.  We found two-thirds of mums like the same music as their kids (Frozen sound track, McBusted, Ed Sheeran, Take That and Taylor Swift). Many go willingly (or suggest going) to concerts and shows with their children – enjoying them as much as the kids. Parents and kids share - whether consciously or not - and brands should look for opportunities for innovation and connection in this area.
  • There are many dimensions to being mum. Brands need to see the wider influences, needs and values of mums. Why? So they don’t miss important factors when developing products and service. As a brand if you dig into these deeper factors you can create better, empathetic relationships with your audience and meet ALL the needs of ‘being mum’.
All figures from survey of 600 UK mums (completed 14-20th April 2015). 

If you have any mum or family insight, innovation or communication needs call us on 0161 413 4717 or email lynne@mumpanel.co.uk

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mum truths, tips and trends in 2015

Mum truths, tips and trends in 2015

Over the last few years we’ve talked a lot about how brands view mums. They’re often keen to try and stick them into neat little boxes, with the aim of better understanding this profitable market. But what we’ve discovered time and time again is that the opposite is true – if you try and squeeze mums into a limited profile it narrows your perspective to a point where products and communications miss the spot, or worse, damage your brand.

This idea of thinking beyond demographics now has it’s very own bit of jargon - 'post demographic consumerism’ in marketing speak and is set to be a key trend for marketers in 2015 (it was a key trend for us in 2011!).

So if you take one truth from this blog it should be this – stop thinking of mums in terms of simple (or even complex) demographics. It doesn’t work. Instead, try and really understand mums, their families and lives within their world – and what a diverse, busy and noisy place it is. Their lives are always moving on to the next life stage, dealing with the next challenges and trends to keep up with.

And here are a few other tips to help your brand connect with mums in 2015

Tap into mums emotions
If you’re a parent then you’ll probably suffer from the universal parental emotion – guilt. You might also feel a few other emotions, worry, pressure, doubt. As a brand you’re in the perfect position to address these emotions and help parents overcome them. Let mums know it’s ok not to be perfect.

See mums as a whole person
Once you have a baby you don’t stop being a person. We do have interests and hobbies too. And we care about what’s happening in the world. Engaging on more than the ‘mum’ level will help you understand how to reach mums and what they want.

Have your own voice
Look to mums attitudes and current shopping journeys for inspiration. And keep an eye on the less obvious competition.  If you want to keep ahead of the pack and be a trend-setter then you've got to really get under the skin of your consumer and competition. 

For example all the big 4 supermarkets have lost market share. And growth – it’s with the discounters – Aldi & Lidl. So that must be because they are cheap? That’s not the whole story. Waitrose have also grown (and hold more market share than Aldi). We think that’s because Aldi and Waitrose have something in common – a clear proposition, they know who they are, why their customers like them and know how to successfully engage with them. 

If you’d like to talk to us about really understanding your consumers in 2015 get in touch.  In our next blog we will look at some of the emerging mum trends for the year ahead. So, what do you want to know about mums in 2015?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Mum radar

We’re always listening to mums, asking for their opinions and understanding what matters to them at the moment. So here’s an insight into the latest hot topics and what we’re observing in the mum world.

The power of the photograph

If you really want to engage with mums on social media then photos are a great idea. Mums really take notice of friends and family conversations on posts, and of any photos that are included.

Just recently a friend posted a tour of their holiday apartment in Poole. I watched as 10 or so people asked where it was and were interested in booking. That’s pretty powerful stuff if you are trying to sell something.  Think about mum ambassadors who can show off real life videos and photos – we want to see things from a real perspective.


If you can find a way to tell a story in marketing that relates to me and my family then I’m interested. Make it real and you’ll have mums hooked. Forget falseness or something too contrived – keep it authentic for mums and show the benefits of that service or product within the story.

Fads & fancies

Any brand can offer a product, try and engage with me and my children. But if children don’t like the product (or have suddenly gone off it) then I won’t be buying it. This doesn’t mean that mums will never try again – after all children change their minds. So think about how you can stay in mums space and tempt them back with offers.

Being in two places at once

Most of us mums combine going online with out and about - we use online to find ideas for days out or holidays. And we’re often out and about when we are online (that could be anywhere!).  So find ways to link those two worlds together for mums and make it easy for us to go online when we’re out. Engage by helping us.

The mum recommendation is still number one

As our families grow we always want to know about the next stage. We’re always looking for new ideas, to understand the latest trends. So we listen to what mums have to say, both those who have been there and done it but also what they’ve heard on the grapevine. And mums are very good at telling other parents what we like and don’t like.  In the last week I’ve listened to 3 or 4 mum recommendations and acted on them.

If you'd like to know about mum insight drop us a line.