SVP, Marketing and Insights
CafeMom is an online community where moms socialize and share advice and information. Laura Fortner, SVP of marketing and insights, oversees the marketing, business development and research teams at the site.
Ms. Fortner spoke with eMarketer about what mothers expect from brand marketers online and why social networks are important.
eMarketer: How does a woman’s shopping behavior change when she becomes a mother?
Laura Fortner: Her life changes in dramatic ways. There are three major shifts that pertain to her shopping behavior: One, she’s got at least one new person in the household with a lot of brand-new needs. Two, given all the demands that parenting is exacting from her, she has a lot less time for researching and shopping than she did before, on top of having new products to look into for her new baby.
And third, we’ve seen a shift in the information sources she goes to for shopping information and the brands she goes to—and trust is very important here. We find that word-of-mouth and connecting with other moms is a very important new resource for women entering motherhood.
eMarketer: Why is word-of-mouth so important to moms?
Ms. Fortner: In today’s fragmented media world, there are so many sources of information coming at moms, and so many places she could go for information, that really being able to find filters that she trusts is very important. In her new time-constrained world with a lot of priorities and a lot of information gathering, moms really prefer value and trust one-on-one communication sources.
eMarketer: Do you see any differences in the online shopping behavior of millennial moms [ages 18 to 34] versus older moms?
Ms. Fortner: In our “Digital Mom” study that we did in partnership with Razorfish, one of the things that we looked at by age was the effect of that on various digital channels and information sources she went to. Technology habits are different, certainly, between age ranges.
The real standout for the millennial moms is that you’re seeing relatively higher usage of social networks and mobile, certainly a greater preponderance of texting and mobile Web browsing. That’s not to say the older moms aren’t doing it, just that more of them in the younger age range are doing it more frequently.
eMarketer: How do moms want to be approached online by brands?
Ms. Fortner: In interacting with brands online, four qualities really stand out for moms. First, being respected and understood by the brands.
“Offer them opportunities to really weigh in on the product.”
Second, moms like companies who listen to the feedback they provide. Offer them opportunities to really weigh in on the product as it stands today or where it may be able to go in the future, and make them feel like they’re partners in that process.
Third, honesty is very important.
And then, finally, in terms of how the brands connect with her, being able to find the information or offer she wants or needs, when or where she needs it, is really important. There are so many channels of information coming at her, really being able to find that at the right time is important.
eMarketer: How important are social networks to moms’ purchase decisions?
Ms. Fortner: They are an increasingly important resource. Moms are going to online friends—people like themselves who feel like friends—just as an easy go-to resource. Being able to go to one place and get many opinions at once, versus going to, say, a brand site and getting one point of view or consumer review, is another benefit.
“Most important is that in a social network you have the ability to get personalized shopping recommendations from people who know something about you, and that’s not something you can get anywhere else.”
Most important is that in a social network you have the ability to get personalized shopping recommendations from people who know something about you, and that’s not something you can get anywhere else.
You can go to Amazon.com and read a product review, but you’re not going to be able to ask somebody who knows you “If I’m choosing between the BlackBerry and the iPhone, and you know what I’m like and what my communication style is and my habits, what would you recommend?”
We have plenty of moms at CafeMom who ask for stroller recommendations. “I want to hear from a suburban mom who’s got a newborn and a 2-year-old. What double stroller makes the most sense?”
The full version of this interview is available here, to eMarketer Total Access subscribers only. Every day they have access to new interviews with digital marketing leaders and trendsetting entrepreneurs.
Check out today’s other article, “What Is the Future of Social Media?”