Melanie Nambiar
Melanie is Mintel's Southeast Asia Trends Analyst based in the Kuala Lumpur office, focusing on how intriguing innovations and thought-provoking regulations impact consumer behaviour in the region and vice versa.

Mother’s Day this year is going to be different for many families. With social distancing guidelines and travel advisories put in place, many aren’t going to be able to spend time with their mothers. In fact, the struggles of parents – and mothers, in particular – are on full display amid the global pandemic.

Mintel research highlights that almost seven in 10 Indian mothers with children in the household are most concerned about the health of their families. Mums, not just in APAC but globally, are having to juggle their day jobs, while running a household, taking on the role of primary educator, and making sure that their family members are healthy.

Traditionally, Mother’s Day has been an occasion where brands pull out all the stops to tug at our collective heartstrings, as they create rosy campaigns that tap into our common appreciation for all that our mothers do. When you think about it, why not? Mothers are indeed the heroes of most households.

Shifting the narrative

While all is well and good with campaigns that remind us to appreciate our mothers, we’re starting to see a different narrative catch on in the Asia-Pacific region. Recently, Huggies Australia released a campaign called ‘Be Comfortable in Your Skin’, which focused on showcasing and championing real Australian families and their everyday struggles. The campaign aims to start a national movement that encourages people to ‘parent-fame’ instead of ‘parent-shame’ and celebrate a diverse range of parents and parenting styles. Given the challenges mothers face today, using a realistic approach that also reflects the difficulties of being a mum could help engage with today’s mothers.

Source: huggies.com.au

Over in India, modern ethnic wear brand Sabhyata ran a television campaign that questioned whose responsibility it is to prepare festive food and drink for the family during Diwali. More often than not, this responsibility falls on the mother. While India is still a deeply patriarchal culture, campaigns like these help women to start these conversations about unconscious expectations within their own households and consider why they exist at all.

From ‘returnity’ to retail

It’s not just in ad campaigns where we’re seeing different narratives of what it means to be a mother come to the fore. Their daily realities are being increasingly explored and studied, and companies are increasingly challenging existing policies that put mothers at a disadvantage. More and more companies are creating environments that encourage mothers to reignite their professional aspirations. For instance, Guangzhou is expected to become the first city in China that allows working mothers, with children below a year old, to take an hour off for breastfeeding during working hours, with no reduction in their wages. And over in Japan, to counteract the conservative social attitudes faced by young Japanese mothers seeking to return to work, the owner of Drop Farm Greenhouses in Mito, which is famous for its sweet cherry tomatoes, is offering mum-friendly part-time positions.

Brands are also showing their support to mothers by making it slightly easier for them to live their lives, outside of the home and workplace. In China, Tmall is working with well-known babycare brands to open IoT-based nursing rooms in shopping malls across the country. These will offer mothers a private space to nurse their child when outside the home – a useful option since some parents may avoid taking their children outside due to the hassle and discomfort they might experience. Mintel research reveals that a third of Chinese mothers are actively seeking ways to reduce stress.

The best thing brands can do for mothers

Be her ally. Brands must begin to embrace a more nuanced view of mothers, and companies should take the opportunity to create environments that allow mothers to thrive. Being the brand that can actually solve some of the unique problems that mothers are faced with can position you as her ally. And while a fabulous brunch at mum’s favourite restaurant might not be on the cards for Mother’s Day this year due to social distancing measures, the best thing that brands can do for mothers is to show them consistent and genuine support all throughout, even well beyond Mother’s Day.