In society, when we talk about « equality » between men and women, we often think about salaries, careers, or who does the household chores. We don’t however talk so much about equality amongst children when it comes to play, cultural activities and sports. However, the way that children are educated has a lot of influence on the way that gender representations are passed on. Such is evident in the latest film by Guillaume Gallienne « Les Garçons et Guillaume à table! » In cinemas 20th November 2013.
Since female emancipation, people, and women in particular, have continued to fight the injustices of gender relations.
However, stereotypes still exist in society, and are ingrained from a very young age. How can this be explained? This question was asked in a survey conducted in October 2013 on 1284 women by Womenology for aufeminin.com. (1) What kind of stereotypes still exist in family education? Do mums educate girls and boys in the same way? Why do boys rarely play with dolls?
Born from the imagination of theatre designer Simon Bénarousse, who found children’s clothes too simple and boring, the brand “Du Pareil au même” (translation: “six of one, (and) half a dozen of the other”) has always been defined by fun and colourful products. After the brand’s first store opened in 1986, the French success story is now really taking shape. A baby line was launched in 1994 and then a line of shoes in the 2000s, the club card (loyalty program) was launched in 2004 and events take place regularly. By 2013 the brand was present across 32 countries, had 2.5 million subscribers to its loyalty program and opened its 600th store. (1) How has the brand changed the clothing market? How has it developed its strategy? How does it communicate to mums?
The children’s clothing market
As the fastest growing sector of the apparel market, the children’s sector is supported by positive structural factors, including a growing target population, the fact that children change size and shoe size every 6 months until they hit adolescence, the rise in the average age of women when they have their first child (stronger buying power), etc. However, according to the Xerfi institute, it seems to be struggling in the economic context of 2013. Specialists brands are competing with extensions of adult brands (Zara Kids, Mexx Kids, Gap Kids, etc.) who are trying to gain customers from the child sector. (2) This is why DPAM re-launched its marketing strategy, expanding its digital offer amongst other initiatives.
Be reassured, informed, understood, guided, more beautiful. These are the main needs of expectant mothers. Although responding to all these needs is not an easy task for companies, one brand, among others, has established a reputation for itself in the relatively niche market of pregnant women. That brand is Clarins. What factors have caused this success? What is the « baby » strategy of this cosmetics brand?
The long established relationship between Clarins and future mothers
In 1993, Clarins was already making an impact on the cosmetics for expectant mothers market when it published the book « Pregnancy, the most beautiful days of your life. » The brand was launched; Clarins established itself as the brand leader for beauty advice during pregnancy.
Victor Mills, American chemical engineer who worked at Procter & Gamble Co in the 50s, revolutionized the baby market when he invented the disposable nappy. Inspired by his own experiences with his grandchildren, the inventor created the Pampers brand, known for its innovation. It was the first company to replace nappy pins with tape, and then the first to develop extendable ties, absorbent gels and multipacks (1970), but its most famous achievement, Baby Dry, came out in the 90s. (1) Thanks to this new technology, nappies became more absorbent and parents’ lives were transformed.
Let’s take a closer look at this market leader. What is its marketing strategy, its advantage over competitors and its market vision?
Innovation gains consumer trust
With its knack for launching innovative new products on the nappy market, Pampers has established itself as the brand to beat, and is now one of the brands most trusted by mums (Study Millward Brown, TrustR , 2011). (2)
Investing around $2 billion in research each year, P&G bases their Pampers brand strategy totally on innovation and technology. In fact, in March 2013, the Pampers Research and Development centre in Schwalbach, near Frankfurt in Germany was more than happy to open its doors to French journalists and bloggers. (3)
After several years of research on behavioral differences in boys and girls, in January 2012, the Lego brand launched a new range for girls; Lego Friends. How does this strategy work? What affinity has Lego established with girls since its origins? Let’s look back at the brand campaigns that marked great years for the brand.
Lego Friends: a new world for girls
« Heartlake City » is the name given to the imaginary city of toys created by Lego for girls. In this fun and colorful landscape, five friends do their favorite activities: decorating their homes, going to the hairdresser’s, preparing food, and working as vets or karate instructors…
Stephen Knapp, Marketing Director for Lego France explains how design varies in the range: « We interviewed girls and found that for them, the experience starts before the construction itself, they have different needs to boys. They want to make their own world, create models all by themselves (…). The figurines are slightly larger, closer to reality, still to construct, but designed to appeal to girls, who didn’t identify with the boy figurines. The figures are characters whose stories girls are invited to discover, their personalities, their worlds, and of course the friendship that brings them together. « (2)
Business Development Manager at the “Institut des Mamans,” Virginia Foucault-Rougé has 15 years of experience in marketing , advertising and media studies (Interdeco , Publicis , Secodip TNS Sofres …)
Womenology: Have mums changed their consumer habits in recent years?
We are a market research institute specialising in targeting mums, families and children, so we pay particular attention to the fact that we are working in a rapidly changing environment. I’ve been working on this target audience for 8 years, and I would certainly say that the sector is moving extremely quickly. One example which has had a significant impact on the behaviour of this target audience, particularly in terms of consumption and more generally in terms of lifestyle, is the importance of digital and social networks in their everyday lives. (…) It is impossible to understand this audience without knowing that today, almost 7 out of 10 mums own a Smartphone (2 years ago this figure was « only » 44%), and 80% of these mums connect to their Smartphones whilst on the move. This development has completely changed the ways of browsing and purchasing. Before buying a product for their child 9 out of 10 mums consult the internet whilst 2 out of 10 regularly consult the internet. For example, nowadays 75% of pushchairs sold are purchased in store and 25% online. This is the reality. These are the key figures you need to know. Again, these changes are very clear to see in the general population, but these trends are particularly strong and magnified amongst the target audience of mums. (…)
« The maternal function in humans is not at all natural; it is a completely social construction, defined and organized by building standards according to the needs of a population specific to a given time in history, » says historian Yvonne Knibiehler. (1) Indeed, the history of maternity consists of several major phases which demonstrate the evolution of contemporary issues regarding the status of the mother, and more generally the role of women in society. This article traces the milestones identified by Yvonne Knibiehler in her book “History of mothers and motherhood in the West”.
Antiquity created the mother in the shadow of the father
During the Ancient Greek era, the word « motherhood » did not exist. However, the maternal figure is very apparent in myths, even if it is sometimes undervalued when, for example, the gods refuse to acknowledge the true process of childbirth (Zeus giving birth to Athena himself). Often, motherhood is simply associated with nature and harvest. The anger of a Goddess deprived of her daughter can, in these beliefs, can result in a degradation of wheat fields.
Future mothers are a strategic target for brands. To mark the start of a new life, they often remodel their spending habits.
« This is nest syndrome,” observes Tiburce Bertrand, founder of the first advertising company specializing in maternity (BabyAdgency). « Gone is the bohemian life! The house is lined with feathers to shelter the baby. Parents buy sofas, repaint the walls, change the carpets … « (1)
How can companies take advantage of these sales opportunities? What is the media of choice amongst mums? What communication methods should be developed in order to appeal to them?
What methods are best to talk to mothers?
According to professionals in the baby marketing sector, specific media is most effective in reaching out to pregnant women. In the current situation, the advertising message is thus reinforced. Three types of « media » are often favoured: third party inserts, advertisements in specialist magazines (and their websites), and address leasing for direct marketing.
Society is enamored with the idea of a true « passion of the child. » The concept has become an object of love, worship and desire, says sociologist Laurence Gavarni. (1) In an era where we have a wealth of knowledge on child birth, the child is now symbolic of shared love and a marital or individual choice.
This new attitude towards pregnancy has an impact on the behaviour of future parents, especially the lives of mothers.
Young women’s routines are affected physiologically, psychologically and socially. Because of this, marketers are particularly sensitive to this target market that has particularly high brand expectations and specific needs in terms of quality focused and specialized consumption.