Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Back to school - uniforms

It’s that not-so-joyful time of year for mums when we have to schlep around the shops looking for school uniform. It’s time to weigh up the pros and cons of costs versus quality, money back guarantees versus promises of kid-tested, whatever you can grab versus careful planning with compliant children.
We asked our mums what their back to school bugbears are and how brands could ease their shopping worries.

  • Finding offers. We know M&S currently have £5 off when you spend £25 on kidswear (so you can get those tights, vests and socks you need for the start of school) and there are deals highlighted on Money Saving Expert. But mums don’t have the time to haul through site after site looking for information. A savvy brand or company would be putting all the back to school offers in one place (even as a competitior price comparision) so we can quickly see where to get the best deals.

  • Mums want things that last. If your products fall apart in a week then we won’t come and buy from you again, and we’ll tell our mum friends not to buy from you. Most companies have gone some way to dealing with this by offering money back guarantees or saying products are independently tested. As a mum I’d like to know how this testing took place, was it with boys or girls? In a lab or in the playground?

  • What we do know is when mums find something they like (and that could be either cost driven or quality driven – it depends on the mum) then they stick with it. One mum told us she choose Next because a friend had told her about it (the trusted inner circle) and the quality was good so she has now stuck with it. Another mum chooses Next because they offer slim fit trousers for her tall but slender son. One of our mums, Susan, told us she sticks with Clarks because they last the whole school year. It’s worth considering innovative ways to connect with mums on the ground because that’s where conversations about where to go for uniforms are happening.

  • We’re seeing brands such as Tesco and M&S offer a ‘Your School Uniform’ – schools sign up, allowing parents to purchase school logo items and the school receives a cashback amount. It seems a very smart way to connect with parents and benefit the school. Is there a way you as a brand can push mums to purchase but still offer something additional in return?

  • Some mums shop online and some shop instore. Free delivery and easy ordering are a must for online. Instore – the stress points for mums are trying to track down the right size when they are shopping last minute. As a brand how can you work on this? Last minute fast delivery?

  • And finally to bags. We’ve identified a gap in the market for appropriately sized bags for primary school children – we’re hearing from mums that either they aren’t big enough to hold books or they are so large they threaten to topple over kids. Indepth research and testing would easily overcome this problem and would make those bags really stand out to mums.

Good luck to all our mums (and dads) as they start the new academic year! If you’d like to better connect with mums and understand what they want then drop us aline.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

You only know what you know

If you want to target mums, you need to understand what they want. To understand what they want you need to ask questions. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But getting to the RIGHT questions can be a trickier process.  If you don’t ask the right questions then you never get the answers you need to truly connect with mums.

When we’re developing questions and doing insight work at MumPanel we use the mantra ‘you only know what you know’. We know questions are just as important as responses and the best insights come from the questions you might not have asked or didn’t think you should ask.  As mums we have a bit of a shortcut – there are things we understand because we have experienced them. Recently Asda trialled a new shopping trolley. Their existing trolleys (along with most supermarkets) were difficult to see over and control once you put a car seat on the top. This might seem an insignificant issue but the small changes they have made can boost brand loyalty (I’ll choose that supermarket because they accommodate my needs) and increase sales (I can see what I want and I’m less stressed so I’ll spend longer in the supermarket). What is important is that someone in their research team asked the right question – they thought to ask about trolleys and then to dig deeper and understand what the real issue was.

One of our big bugbears as mums is cordial fruit juice. Most of the products on the market are sugar free. We know at some point brands must have asked mums what they wanted and of course, they don’t want drinks full of sugar that rot their children’s teeth. So that market has become all about ‘NO ADDED SUGAR’ drinks. But what we’re hearing from mums is that they’d rather have natural sugar fruit juices or other alternatives over aspartame-filled drinks.  There’s been a missed opportunity to take the research full circle instead of using a linear approach that stopped at the first response.

Last week we were chatting with Julie from Child Seat Safety, they train retailers to fit car seats correctly, accrediting them to a scheme endorsed by Which? What came out of our conversation was that stores often focus on the quality of the product and forget to ask questions that really matter – is that car seat right for their car, their needs, and their child. This is partly because retailers haven’t been trained to ask the right kind of questions. Because safety is such a hot topic, it’s vital we identify the questions that NEED to be asked so that brands and retailers get it right.

Questions are ignored, we all so busy rushing to the response and it’s about time we put the brakes on. If you want to really start to understand mums then it’s time to start digging deeper, get involved in their day to day journey and have your ears open for when they drop those little nuggets of insight that can revolutise your brand. 

If you’d like more information on asking mums the right questions then drop us a line.