How Brands Can Use Empathy to Connect With Millennial Moms

The 'Me' Generation Has Become the 'We' Generation

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Millennial moms are a cross between "Leave it to Beaver"'s June Cleaver and "Odd Mom Out"'s Jill Kargman: They want to do the best for their families while embracing the imperfections of parenting (and life). They also represent the greatest lifetime monetary value of any consumer segment in the history of marketing.

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Connelly Partners' Millennial Mom Project followed a group of millennial moms recently over an eight-week period. Although they share many of the maternal tendencies and traits of prior generations, there are very distinctive qualities and tendencies, and an opportunity for marketers to create messages with pure empathy to reach them.Here are some insights:

1. Millennial moms have it tough. The complexity of being a good mom has never been greater. Although previous generations of moms might have something to say about it, the millennial mom's perception is her reality. She's a cyber-security expert and secret service agent. Her "trust no outsider" mentality means keeping a smaller universe for her children to live in and interact with. This small universe gives mom a more manageable force-field to operate from and let her guard down more easily.

Empathic opportunity: By acknowledging millennial mom's protective anxieties, marketers can reinforce that they're part of a large universe of united moms who are determined to find a resemblance of true freedom and peace of mind.

2. Millennial moms feel overwhelmed by an endless sea of new studies and theories on diet, nutrition, education and physical fitness. "Don't do this; "Do this;" "Be sure to eat plenty of that;" and "Remember what we said last week?"

"It's different this week" has resulted in a fluidity in mothering principles. At the same time, it can manifest in exasperation, given the volume of information that cycles continuously through their devices.

According to the GfK MRI 2015 Doublebase study on millennial moms, nearly 60% always check the ingredients and nutritional content of food products before they put them in their shopping cart.

Empathic opportunity: Brands can win over millennial moms by recognizing the unprecedented challenge of dealing with the volume of information to digest and decipher. Brands need to tell moms that it's okay to not sweat the small stuff and revel in the masterful job they're already doing as a great mom.

3. "Like" me for me. The generation that brought self-publication and promotion to our culture now shudders at the monster it's become. More than two in five millennial moms feel pressure to make sure their life and family looks "put together" from the outside, and more than a quarter of millennial moms agree that they feel compelled to hide some of the "dirty truths" of being a mom.

That makes it easier to understand why platforms like Snapchat are preferred by millennials for their raw self-expression and forever-gone-in-an-instant posts. But realness can be boring compared to moodiness, sassiness or down-right ugliness. Millennial moms find novelty and comfort in others who not only share their imperfection, but revel in it. It is a point of liberation for these women who hold themselves otherwise to an unattainable standard, like the 68% of moms (not just millennnial moms) on social media who feel that their parenting decisions are always or sometimes judged by other moms.

Empathic opportunity: A brand that has the self confidence to admit it is far from perfect will convey the purest form of empathy. It's not uncommon for a brand today to effectively celebrate realness, but to be truly empathetic with these moms, a brand needs to be transparent with its own imperfection -- making light of its "uglies" with humility and a bit of self-deprecation that is powerfully human; that's the secret to creating natural brand affinity with this group.

4. I am mommy. Hear me roar. Millennials spent their entire childhood and early adult years chasing the quest for individualism and originality. In fact, 88% of millennial moms rated "authenticity/being true to myself" as very important (MRI). The body art-obsessed generation has carried its "I'm not like anyone else" trait and the millennial mom's attitude is, "No one is going to tell me how to be a good mother." These moms are programmed to "walk their own walk" when it comes to the rules they abide by in raising their kids. They are contrarians to not only the practices of their own mothers but to socially embraced concepts and principles.

Empathic opportunity: Contrarians like to think of themselves as "trail blazers," even when they're not. But again, it's about recognizing who they see in themselves and advocating for their perception. Brands that show a recognition for the unique and independent road that today's mom thinks she walks will leverage empathy in a powerful manner. "Like" me.

There is still much to learn from this generation and how millennial moms will handle the growing pains of raising this next generation.