Hoping to find an iPad under the tree this Christmas? If it’s a gift from mom (not Santa), than it’s more than likely she asked around on Facebook before hitting the Apple store. According to a study from the Consumer Electronics Association, more than half of U.S. mothers (64%) use social media for information about tech products before they make a purchase. In fact, a third of moms have posted reviews, opinions or experiences about electronic products and retailers in the past year, compared to only 25% of all women online.
“Online moms are a particularly important consumer segment as they are both active on social media sites and possess substantial buying power and influence,” said Ben Arnold, a senior research analyst for CEA.
And all the people who have received an unnerving Facebook friend request from their mother will agree that this online segment represents a significant portion of the “mom population.” 79% of all moms in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 are active in social media, according to a study commissioned by the Child’s Play Communications from the NPD Group Inc.
So how does this data translate for retailers, especially during the holiday season, when Target and Best Buy are flooded with moms shopping for teenagers who want the latest tech gear? Savvy brands have capitalized on the opportunity to connect, leveraging their social media presence to speak directly to this group.
In 2008, Walmart established an online community called ElevenMoms (now called Walmart Moms) – a group of mom bloggers tapped to write product reviews, offer tips and share feedback from their shopping experiences. They are similar to brand ambassadors, although the website is very clear that these bloggers participate voluntary and have an obligation to disclose any compensation in the form of travel or products. In addition to generating content that helps shoppers “save money and live better,” the moms provide a window into the perspective of their demographic, conducting in-store research trips and product tests that help Walmart improve the shopping experience.
Best Buy offers an innovative Twitter alternative to standard tech support with @Twelpforce, a Twitter channel that lets employees answer questions and provide customers with relevant information. Since launching in July 2009, Twelpforce tweeters have addressed more than 36,000 inquiries and helped drive traffic to Best Buy’s main website by including links within the answers. Best Buy also features a “Shop + Share” tab on their Facebook page, that lets users post products on their own wall to solicit opinions and comments from friends and family.
As we mentioned earlier this month, Target did a thorough job leveraging social media to pull in holiday shoppers, many of which are moms. In addition to a running a gift-card giveaway through Facebook and Twitter, Target used both sites to offer sneak peeks on Black Friday deals and promotions. And for the second year in a row, their holiday spokesperson is Maria Bamford, in character as a super shopper (think Martha Stewart on speed). Bamford’s depiction of a type-A personality is obviously exaggerated for comedic value, but moms who are stressed out by the holiday season can certainly relate.
Mattel’s Fisher-Price has a Facebook app called “Moments to Share” that lets users organize photos and videos of their kids, along with stories and comments into a timeline that can be shared with friends. The app also has promotional value for the brand: on the right side of the page, Fisher-Price suggests products based on the age and gender of the child in the timeline.
There’s no doubt that social media is effective in building brand awareness and opening up avenues of communication. The study from the NPD Group Inc. shows that 43% of active social media moms who use sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis have purchased a children’s product as the result of online recommendations from one of those sites. Using social media to stay informed and make smart decisions is a win-win for both consumer and retailer.