Mums & Technology
“Although we often look at mums in emotional terms,” said Daryl Lee, chief strategy officer, McCann Erickson, “indeed they are smart economic agents who use technology in ways that push boundaries. In countries like China, for instance, where reliable referrals are limited, mum bloggers are banding together to find the truth. To earn their attention, brands need to earn their respect.”
“The dynamics of motherhood have been changing everywhere in recent decades,” Dave McCaughan, Truth Central director, Asia Pacific commented. “Whether it is Japan, China or Thailand, mums are marrying later, having fewer or only one child, have less access to sisters and friends with lots of child raising experience, but a great deal more access to information through media. They are more likely to want to give up their engagement ring or their child's favorite toy than their phone or PC because those are the mediums that allow them to access and share the information they need to be better mums. That is why we talk of the 'mum economy', the world in which information is currency and mum's everywhere are constantly acquiring and trading to gain credit as a good mum."
Among the study’s findings:
Blogs are a foundation of The Mum Economy, where knowledge and expertise have become vital currency. Nearly 40% of online Mums around the world say they write a blog; in China, where mums regard Weibo as blogging, it’s 86%.
- Singapore’s mum bloggers tend to write about specific mother/baby issues –e.g. breastfeeding, teething, introducing baby to solid foods – as well as product reviews for both baby and mum. Their readers will generally take advice from the sites, but they usually only visit for a specific reason.
- In India and Thailand, blogs tend to be more diary-like, written from either the child’s or mother’s perspective, recording incidents that strike them as cute or funny, and their opinions on events happening in the world around them.
How important is technology to mums?
67% believe technology helps them to be bettermothers – in emerging markets we see this rise to 91% in China and 90% in India;
- In markets like China, the shear rate of change in recent years means that many young mums feel that traditional sources of advice, such as their own mothers, have had no equivalent experience. The One Child Policy has meant we are now entering an era when most new mothers have no sisters who can advise. So, the result is a greater reliance on information and shared tips available through the internet and social media.
- Net-savvy Indian and Singaporean mums strongly believe that technology has made information more readily available, and convenient – they can find answers to queries or homework questions, as well as tips on how to handle certain situations or behavior
- Malaysian mothers also find technology invaluable for problem-solving, but importantly see it as a means of shortening the generation gaps with their children
- In Taiwan, where family size is decreasing and relatives don’t necessarily live together anymore, mums find that the abundance of information online gives them a sense of support, although some, particularly new mums, can find it overwhelming
- In Indonesia, mums are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, although tend to seek information for immediate problem-solving rather than prevention
49% of married mums would give up their engagement ring before their personal technology.
- We see a desire to ‘play the mum economy’ as something mums everywhere are doing. However, in fast-changing, big economies like China, today’s mother is under increasing pressure to be perceived as a successful mother and to ensure her child’s success. Hence, they are not only looking for information. They are seeking to be perceived as someone who has real expertise, thereby building their reputation as a better mother. When we asked the mums what they do when they come across good advice on motherhood, 37% of mums around the world said they would share it with as many parents as possible, and another 50% said they would share it with close friends. But in China those numbers rose to 65% and 33% respectively – that is to say, much higher levels of sharing, or rather broadcasting, their knowledge.
- Said one mum in Brazil: “Since we don’t have the family support they had in the past, technology helps the mothers who are alone. Technology is a friend!”
"It is never as simple as saying that all mums are the same,” McCaughan added. “We have clearly seen that mums in Japan are always looking for a greater consensus approach to what they should be doing. Chinese mums are more focused on the success of their child. But we did find that all mums are looking for ways to save and prioritise time. Asked what imaginary app they would most like to see on their phones they clearly said they wanted something that could either speed up the difficult parts of the day, or allow them to travel across time to the more enjoyable things in their lives. Because time is precious and they are very concerned about getting everything they can out of life, not just as mums, but to enable themselves to enjoy life"
What would be a mums ‘dream app’ for their mobile phone?
Globally the most common answer was ‘an app that let me time travel’ (chosen by over 20% of mums) and a ‘let me see into the future’ app (selected by just under 20% of respondents ). But while these were both popular in China, they were not the most interesting apps to mums in this market.
- Japanese mums most wanted app was ‘Cook the dinner for me’ (25 %) … a reflection of Japanese mothers wanting to do things correctly and the perfectionist culture. The choice of app doesn’t reflect their inability or reluctance to cook, rather this new generation of mothers has had less traditional cooking training from their own mothers, and at the same time have grown up in a culture with very high expectations from home cooking. They were the first i-mode generation, and the first big i-mode hit was foreign recipes, furthering the popularity of cooking schools in recent years.
- Chinese mums’ first choice was a time travel app but closely followed by an app that ‘would transport my kids to all their activities and act as a taxi’. In most countries this app attracted only 8-9% of mums - in China it was twice that number. The answer reflects the Chinese mother’s real desire as ‘tiger mums’ - to get their children into as many after-school extra activities and lessons as possible.
- Mothers in India favoured apps which would help them monitor and track their children – their school work and helping them with homework, tips on behavior and medical / pharmaceutical advice. This may reflect a rising trend to emulate China’s ‘tiger mums’ in India’s growing middle class. Parents increasingly view their children’s education as a means to improve their social status and increase material wealth.
Mums & Happiness
“The global economic battering and corporate scandals of the past few years seem to have contributed to a shift in the goals mums have for their children,” said Laura Simpson, global director of McCann Truth Central. “Whereas mothers have long been hyper-focused on the material success of their children, today mums, from the U.S. to China to Mexico, appear to be unified by one simple value: They want to raise happy kids.” Among the study’s findings:
83% of mums rank happiness for their children above success and riches;
- Indian mums think that success is as important as happiness for their children, with 46% ranking it as the most important factor.
- Again, this may be a reflection of India’s ‘tiger mums’, who stress the importance of academic success, often making sacrifices, monetary and otherwise, to ensure their children are given every advantage and in return, they expect them to attain the top grades, attend the best educational institutions and to secure high-ranking jobs in ‘prestigious’ professions such as law, medicine and engineering.
65% of today’s mums are rejecting the myth of the perfect “supermum”;
71% of mums want their kids to know the “real me” warts and all.
- Thai mothers want their children to see them as a modern mum ‘smart and young’. They also want their kids, and peers, to perceive them as strong and ‘hands-on’ – they can handle the multiple roles that being a mum entails.
- Singaporean mums were more reluctant to praise themselves, but hope that their children seem them as trustworthy, and feel as though they are able to confide in them.
- In India, mums hoped that their children would see their greatest achievement as a mother was that they gave them ‘a childhood full of happy memories’.
- Said a Mum in Japan: “I want my son to be proud of my attitude of not being afraid of making mistakes.”
When we asked what describes being a ‘good mother’, Chinese mums were the most likely to agree that “she pushes her child to be the best they can be” (26% compared to a global average of 10%). Meanwhile Japanese mothers were the most likely to say ‘she always puts her children before herself’.
- Taiwanese and Indonesian mothers’ sense of achievement comes from their children’s understanding and appreciation of the time and effort mums put in to taking care of their kids.
- Said a Mum in Indonesia: “When my family acknowledges me as a good mum, it’s something priceless.”
*About the Truth About Mums -- Methodology
The Truth About Mums, the latest in a series is global research studies, was written with the objective of providing brands with strategies to engage modern, tech-savvy, multitasking mums. The study is based on an online quantitative survey of 6800 online mums conducted in the UK, the US, Italy, Japan, Brazil, China, India and Mexico. In addition it contains insights from over 40 focus groups conducted in all the above markets plus Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The study is divided into 4 chapters: The Mum Economy; Google Plus Grandma; Happy Together; The Triathamum.
About McCann Truth Central
McCann Truth Central is McCann Erickson’s global intelligence unit, with representation in over 100 countries around the world and dedicated to discovering the truths that illuminate the world and help brands make their mark in it. For more about Truth Central or to access Truth About Mums and previous Truth Studies, visit: http://truthcentral.mccann.com/truth-studies/