Brits prove they love spoiling their mums as they’re expected to splash out £600 million on Mother’s Day this year, an increase of 3.4% compared to £580 million spent in 2017. Despite this extra spending, Mintel research on marketing to parents finds that advertising makes most mothers feel inadequate and pressured to be perfect. Although a large proportion of both mums and dads identify advertising as adding pressure to be perfect parents, the sentiment is notably higher amongst mothers (64% vs 53% of dads). Three-quarters (73%) of mothers agree that adverts make parenting look easier than it is, while the same proportion of mums (73%) agree that adverts too often ignore the difficult parts of being a parent. Parents also feel they continue to be subjected to gender clichés, as 72% of mums and 67% of dads agree that there are still too many stereotypes in advertising. And 50% of dads agree that adverts give the impression they do not know what they are doing with kids. Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said: “While the advertising industry is working hard to move away from gender stereotypes, it is clear that many parents still find that the representation of mums and dads in advertising is out of sync with reality. With many mothers today more likely to return to work than any previous generation, depictions of housewives are starting to feel old-fashioned and irrelevant. “Given the challenges parents face today, overly rosy campaigns can exacerbate worries that they are not doing a good enough job. While brands shouldn’t move away from focusing on good parenting in their campaigns, a more realistic approach that also reflects the difficulties of being a mum or a dad could help engage with today’s parents.”

‘Mum-preneurs’ like job flexibility

For some parents, having a child makes them more focused on their professional development. Indeed, 34% of new dads and 24% of new mums show an increased interest in their careers in the five years after having a baby. Moreover, parenthood seems to bring out an entrepreneurial flair in 35% of mums who find themselves more interested in the idea of starting their own business. And a further 22% of mums wish they had more money to start their own business. “Parents’ increased focus on their careers can be strongly tied to finance, with the expense of raising children meaning that many people need to boost their household income. However, we see many consumers exploring flexible ways to earn thanks to a more entrepreneurial mindset. Self-employment strongly appeals to new mothers specifically, due to the higher levels of flexibility it offers over standard employment.” Jack continues.

Digital detox

While digital technology is an invaluable tool for today’s mothers, getting children to put down their devices has become challenging. The struggle is shared by 78% of mums who find it hard to get their children to switch off from technology. Perhaps mothers wonder if they could set a better example to their children, as 69% agree that they are just as tech-obsessed as their children. But it is not only the amount of time that their children spend on technology that is causing mothers to worry: 72% of mums think that it’s increasingly difficult to protect their children online and 71% agree that technology is making children grow up too fast. On the flipside, 35% recognise the benefits of technology as they believe it means children today have a better life. “For many parents, technology has become something of a double-edged sword. While they recognise the benefits it brings to their children, they also acknowledge that the online world can expose children to a growing number of dangers that they are unable to keep on top of. “Our research also indicates there are concerns about technology’s negative impact on quality family time. This has encouraged new initiatives to convince parents and children to switch off and enjoy their screen-free time together. For instance, National Unplugging Day asks UK parents to #GoGadgetFree for the day and engage in real-world activities. The tech sector is also increasingly developing functions to give parents greater control over the amount of time their children spend on devices and who they are engaging with.” Jack concludes.
Research was carried out among 765 female internet users aged 16+ who are mums of children aged 0-18 and 735 male internet users aged 16+ who are dads of children aged 0-18 in September 2017. Press copies of Marketing to Parents 2017 UK report and interviews with Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst, are available on request from the press office.