9 out of 10 women find marketing-to-women efforts ineffective: MullenLowe Study

A report by MullenLowe group finds out that mothers control 85 per cent of home purchases and wield an estimated annual buying power of $2.1 trillion in the U.S, and by 2017, the baby care category alone will reach $67 billion.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jun 3, 2016 5:31 PM  | 5 min read
9 out of 10 women find marketing-to-women efforts ineffective: MullenLowe Study

Frank About Women, a 14-year-old global think tank founded by MullenLowe to improve marketing communication for women, released a white paper that attempts to investigate the beliefs, practices and trends that influence today's female consumer.

Their first collaborative research project, the ‘Global Motherhood: Unity In The Divide’ white paper aims to help brands build stronger relationships with new mothers, addressing the fact that 9 out of 10 women find marketing-to-women efforts ineffective. The report is based on an opt-in online survey which ran from February to March 2016 in Australia, China, Colombia, India, the UK and the US.

“Frank About Women is a global think-tank with a mission to make communications more effective, relatable, and enjoyable for both advertisers and women. With our international white paper, we investigate the far-from- obvious, challenge assumptions, and deliver provocative insights and ideas that help brands build meaningful relationships with global moms,” said Shaun Stripling, Chief Strategy Officer, MullenLowe U.S. (Winston-Salem) and Global Director, Frank About Women.

The study drew samples of about 300 respondents per country who have a child between the ages of one and two years. The degree to which mothers believe in self-sacrifice was one of the factors the study examined. On the other end of the spectrum from Indian mums, Australian mothers feel they can help baby best if they first look after themselves. Mothers in China, on the other hand, are considerably less self-effacing than mothers from India, but are less ready than Australian mums to assert that mum comes first.

There are no true stereotypes when it comes to mothers in Asia-Pacific. For example, Indian mothers are 36 times more likely than Australian mums to agree that “the child always comes first”, according to the study. This finding implies that Indian women feel most guilty about taking time to care for themselves.

Brands and products have the opportunity to teach mothers about the value of putting herself first and help mums embrace self-love and self-care, recommended the report. “Frank About Women would love to see a day when mum isn’t overwhelmed with guilt over getting a pedicure, a day when going to a yoga class doesn’t require an apology or when simply having an hour alone in her own home is a regular occurrence and not a negotiated event,” it read.

The study finds out that mothers control 85 per cent of home purchases and wield an estimated annual buying power of $2.1 trillion in the U.S, and by 2017, the baby care category alone will reach $67 billion.

According to the survey, 75 per cent of all mothers cannot resist comparing their child’s development to that of other kids. This was found to be 90 per cent in China. “Indian mothers don’t just compare, they are also the most anxious and obsessed in this regard compared to the other countries,” the paper stated.

Mothers in India and China seem to buck a global trend, going by the findings. While 82 per cent of respondents globally said kids should learn at their own pace, 49 per cent of mothers in China and India said they would encourage their kids to reach milestones ahead of schedule.

Mothers in India and China share another common feature: they disregard their budgets the most when shopping for their kids compared to peers from the other four markets. Asked which items are worth paying more for, the sample responded as per the chart below.

The study insisted that brands need to reinforce the role the father plays in childcare. By over-targeting mothers, brands risk either alienating involved fathers or reinforcing absent dads. Nearly eight in 10 Indian mums, for example, wish for more help from their husbands.


Furthermore, 60 per cent of global moms feel that children should not be exposed to technology at an early age, with 79 per cent of Colombian moms and 62 per cent Indian moms actually feel that early access to technology is harmful to kids. But 60 per cent of Chinese moms want technology at an early stage. U.K. and Australian moms are 66 times more likely to say it’s best not to consume too much information during pregnancy as it causes them stress.


Meanwhile, the emerging confidence of the Indian mom is helping her find her voice in the joint family set up, with 70 per cent believing that mothers should assert their views over family elders in raising the child. 75 per cent also believe that mothers should demand more help from husbands in raising and looking after their child.


The report advises marketers to pay attention to mums’ differing perceptions on how to best support their children’s developmental growth. Localised cultural norms influence how mums set their own metrics, understanding that some markets focus more on speed and use all tools available to gain ground, while other markets look for more balance and quality of learning for the long haul. These subtleties could alter a product’s positioning and brand communications.

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