Real mums and dads rule

real familyBrand managers are increasingly choosing ‘real mums’ and ‘real families’ over celebrities to be the face of their latest marketing campaign – but why?

Iceland has recently chosen to stop using celebrities such as Kerry Katona and Peter Andre in favour of real mums who actually shop at the store. In collaboration with Channel Mum, a vlogger network for mums, shoppers are invited to share their customer experiences and pass on recommendations for products they find in store.

According to Iceland’s joint MD, Nick Canning, the campaign reflects a cyclical trend, which shifts between favouring celebrities and real people. He also says the campaign is aiming to change perceptions of frozen foods and has been prompted by a shift in shopping behaviours and attitudes.

In order to get closer to consumers and create campaigns that resonate with them, many brands are choosing to put real customers at the centre of their brand communications and, importantly, give them a voice.

By giving mums a voice, Iceland’s campaign is one of the first high street retailers to apply a strategy known as ‘recomumdation’ or peer-to-peer marketing for mums. In some recent videos posted at ChannelMum.com on YouTube, real mums can be seen sharing details of their latest grocery hauls and vlogging about family meals they have prepared.

Increased access to online reviews and other information is encouraging many businesses to rethink their approach to brand communications. Empowering customers to act as brand ambassadors, via customer portals, blogs and social media channels, for example, can be extremely powerful ways to demonstrate that they are putting customers at their centre of their thinking.

However, they need to take care. A global study published recently by Saatchi & Saatchi has found that mums sometimes dislike the way they are portrayed in marketing campaigns – 51% of respondents felt that advertisers had an out-dated view of them. In particular, mums don’t respond well to ads that position them as ‘doing a tough job’ or that put them ‘on a pedestal’. They prefer to be seen as multi-dimensional and in particular, like to be seen having fun occasionally.

Other brands that have recently chosen to focus on real people include Halfords with the launch of its new brand platform – ‘For Life’s Journeys’. In this case, the retailer has created a new logo, PoS and brand guidelines, as well as a TV brand advertising campaign, which tells the story of a real family taking a journey.

While it is true that such campaigns can be successful in helping brands to connect emotionally with their customers, they need to be carefully researched and prepared. When done well, they can achieve much more besides. By gathering honest feedback and valuable data about shopping habits, footfall and customer preferences, real people marketing can deliver insights and inform future communications strategies.

Vince Kerrigan is strategic solutions manager at brand communications agency, Vital Communications.