Choosing the Right Message to Reach ‘Concerned Moms’
If life were simple, there would be one kind of “green consumer” buying all things green. Unfortunately, life isnât simple. There are multiple audiences who buy various green products. They donât respond to the same messages, so thereâs no “one size fits all” strategy. The good news: You can reach your audiences with the right messages.
For example, in one of ourÂ Eco PulseÂ studies, we tested how various audiences reacted to cleaning products. We found that ingredients carried a lot of weight — particularly “all natural” ingredients. But when we broke the respondents down into groups based on the features they gravitated to, we found that about half the population fell into a segment we could call the Clorox/Kills Germs segmentÂ (in other words, their main criteria for product selection was the brand and the efficacy), about 30 percent made up the All Natural Ingredients segment and the remaining 20 percent made up the Low Price segment.
Or take another category, Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs.Â Three audiences we tested â True Believers, Concerned Moms and Cautious Conservatives â have all purchased these bulbs, but for entirely different reasons. True Believers did so because they wanted to save the planet. Cautious Conservatives wanted to save a few bucks on their electric bill. And Concerned Moms did so because they were worried about their kidsâ futures.
Speaking of Concerned Moms, we recently held focus groups with various segments of the population to discuss their thoughts on energy and water conservation and react to a host of TV spots with energy conservation messages. Two of these focus groups were Concerned Moms.Â What did we learn about them?
Concerned Moms are, well, concerned. We asked all groups the opening question:Â “When I say the phrase, ‘our countryâs energy supply,â whatâs the first thing that pops into your mind?â True Believers and Cautious Conservatives went straight for literal definitions â âoil,â âgas,â âcoal,â âsolar,â âwind,â etc.Â But Concerned Moms focused immediately on their worries, saying things like, ânot enoughâŚweâre wasting itâŚscary.âÂ Clearly, Concerned Moms are already emotionally involved when it comes to energy issues. As marketers, that means weâve already won half the battle: It takes both an emotional and rational appeal to move consumers to action.
Concerned Moms respond to facts delivered directly. They liked TV spots that were down to earth and matter of fact. Though they laughed out loud and identified with the frazzled mom in a Rheem tankless water heater spot, they didnât rank it as their favorite. And though they cooed over the cute monkeys in the GE Geospring Hot Water Heater ad, it didnât move them to want to buy. What worked were some of the utility company spots that featured employees or regular looking people giving specific tips very matter of factly.
Concerned Moms are particularly worried about jobs. They also responded well to the mention of jobs in the spot from Americaâs Oil and Natural Gas. That makes sense â theyâre nurturers and lionesses. They donât want to see any family without a bread winner.
Concerned Moms are most motivated by their kids, but thereâs a line that marketers should NOT cross. That would be the Line of Guilt. Positive messaging about future generations worked really well. Guilt messaging â such as âyouâd better change your ways today or else your kids and grandkids will pay the priceâ — really fell flat.Â It insulted them. A representative comment to one such ad: âIâve bent over for my kidsâŚ How dare they tell me I havenât done enough?â
So, if youâre trying to reach Moms â and theyâre great targets for anything tied to a utility bill as theyâre the ones writing the monthly checks â keep the following in mind:
- Humor works, but only if the humor IS the point of the ad.Â You canât mix in rational facts alongside a humor message. The facts will be forgotten.
- Specific, manageable tips from real, down-to-earth people work.
- Promises of protecting future generations and protecting jobs/family work really wellâŚbut only if theyâre positive.Â Guilt and fear will have the exact opposite effect.
The moral of the story?Â Know thy product, and know thy audience.
Suzanne Shelton is president and CEO ofÂ Shelton Group, an advertising agency located in Knoxville, Tennessee. The agency conducts four proprietary annual consumer opinion studies â Eco Pulse, Energy Pulse, Utility Pulse and Green Living Pulse.
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