Intuitively, we know family relationships are oh-so-complex, yet marketing meant to target families is often one-size-fits-all. A family is so much more than the sum of its parts. Whatever the modern family’s shape or size, each member plays a part in influencing family life. Marketers that identify and feed unique family dynamics stand to create new value for their brands and their customers.
We have new data and technology tools at our disposal that help us more meaningfully infuse brands into the fabric of family life. Precision targeting and personalization enables brands to flex their marketing efforts to something that genuinely matters to different family members with different needs. The diversity of modern families can, and should, be a source of brand strength.
Empathetic use of data and technology
When engaging the whole family, marketing must take a more empathetic view of everyone involved in a purchase. Great brands and great content create a bridge that transcends basic marketing, becoming part of the parent’s and child’s connection. Precisely targeting unique brand benefits to each family member creates a foundation for your product or service they share together.
Most toy brands, for example, go after children with 30-second TV spots. But this tactic misses the people most influential the product’s success: parents. In fact, 51% of people believe advertisers don’t understand moms. With roughly 2 billion mothers worldwide, that’s 1 billion potential customers not getting the right message.
Hot Wheels tried to rectify this with an omnichannel campaign, illustrating how its play sets weren’t just for fun, but also supported creative thought.
Part of the campaign lived on social channels like Pinterest, with content demonstrating how Hot Wheels could encourage imaginative play — something that really mattered to moms. And instead of basic TV spots showing kids at play, marketing demonstrated how Hot Wheels helped children create their own stories. The strategy worked, causing play sets to outsell supply.
Engaging the entire family
So, how exactly can you take a more empathetic approach to marketing and engage the entire family?
1. Define your brand’s purpose. Making a promise to consumers is often a brand’s first order of business. Without one, your target audience never really knows what tangible benefits to expect from you. But without a purpose to support it, this promise can come off as empty.
Determine each family member’s unique connection to your brand. What purpose does it serve to moms or dads that it doesn’t serve to kids and vice versa? Do the same for their perceptions and barriers, and then look for ways you can facilitate a shared understanding that enhances the family dynamic.
2. Get to know the buyer’s journey. You may be attempting to take the whole family on the sales journey together, but each member is hopping on the train at a different point. Look at the path each member generally takes to reach a purchase — and ensure that there’s a stop ready for everyone you want on board.
This not only reveals moments, but it also provides context for where your brand can offer new products, services, and content to your target audience. Interactions resonate on a deeper level because you know how to meet their needs and provide real value at that moment in time. They see how your brand can become part of the glue to family life.
3. Establish a dialogue with families. It’s no longer enough to promote a product — even if it’s head and shoulders above the competition. Your approach is just as critical. Make your brand more relatable by establishing a conversation with customers where they live.
This ongoing exchange not only makes marketing more efficient and effective, but it also provides a platform for future research. Observe their interactions with each other and your brand. Create platforms and experiences that they want to opt into. In turn, you’ll receive constant feedback on your marketing efforts and more easily find areas for improvement.
4. Move beyond siloed initiatives. Brands can sometimes get so focused on a marketing technique or channel that they forget to integrate it with their other efforts. This lack of coordination creates silos, limiting your ability to see the entire buyer’s journey and creating a disjointed experience with your brand.
Unify your strategies and channels to create an integrated ecosystem of touchpoints that, together, provide rich layers of brand meaning and resonance. What’s more, inspire and empower family members with the means to create and expand their own brand stories together.
Building relationship platforms with a variety of family members enables your brand to create a cycle of communication between brand, parents, and kids. As you learn what resonates with families, why certain products feed specific behaviors, and how to optimize your marketing efforts, that connection will only grow. Treat your customers like a family, and they’ll be that much more likely to bring you into their lives.