Moms and brands – raving fans or raving lunatics?


Woman on phoneWhy does a customer go from raving fan and testimonial-giving spokesperson to giving up the brand entirely?  The answer may have something to do with motherhood.  Research and personal experience demonstrate how moms can be highly opinionated about brand experiences.

Moms are voluntarily active brand vocalists.

In June 2011, AdAge reported that almost half of moms who like a brand do so without the brand actively recruiting them.  They cited research conducted under the tenure of our editor, Holly Pavlika, while she was at Big Fuel’s division Mom-entum.  Part of their survey results showed that “62% (of moms) say that a positive product experience is the biggest motivator for them to talk with others about a brand.”  As you can imagine, there is research that shows a negative experience is equally damaging.  Recently, Fast Company reported on the “alarmingly high cost of bad customer service”.  In their litany of stats about bad experiences is the fact that in our social-media age, “the typical customer tells an average of 16 other people about a poor service experience, but only tells nine about the good ones”.  The article urges companies to reconsider brand experiences and look at every customer interaction not as a cost, but as an opportunity.

There’s not a lot of middle ground with moms.

My relationship with a “mommy and me” franchise demonstrates how a mom can run the gamut of hot to cold with a brand.   It was suggested to me that I try the franchise when my eldest was little and struggling with a gross motor delay.  My experience was fantastic. To this day, I partially credit the employees of this franchise with his early gains.  For years, the teachers and staff worked with him in a way that both recognized his needs and widely accepted standards.  I volunteered to give testimonials for them online and in their brochures.  The staff was seasoned and took the time to know our needs and us.  I referred countless other moms to them.  So when I had my youngest, I called and told them I’d like to put her in a trial class.  I gave them a full briefing of where she was at developmentally, which was far ahead of her brother.   Similar to before, we went to a Saturday morning class.  I found the class crowded and at capacity.  While I experienced that before, I was shocked that all of the staff was noticeably less seasoned.  My daughter struggled in her first class.  No one noticed.  At more than the halfway mark, I picked her up and left.  No one noticed us leaving.  Several days later, the gym called to inquire why we left.  I explained that the baby was struggling, received no attention, the class was crowded and the staff appeared overwhelmed.  Then the manager said, “When your daughter is ready, we’d be happy to take you back.” I laughed.  Surely, they weren’t blaming an eleventh-month old baby for a bad experience, right?  And as they’ve grown, their emails and social media communications have become less personalized.   When another mother asked for my opinion, I told her not to go there.

The relationship between the brand and motherhood

Moms care most about their kids.  If a woman has a bad experience with a brand, she might be willing to give it another chance.   This is not the case if it involves her kids.  I thought about giving the classes another try, but then I wondered, “Why I would I subject my child to that again?”  So we tried something else and were thrilled.  I’ve since told three other moms about it.  Why?  It’s not about being a brand-watchdog.  I just want what’s best for my kids and as a mom I want what’s best for any kid.  That’s part of being a member of the wonderful club called motherhood.

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