Study: How brands should market to first-time parents

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There is a massive disconnect between brands and the current generation of first-time parents, according to new research.

The study, "Brand New Parents: The Journey to More Than Me," surveyed approximately 400 first-time parents across the U.S. with a child under the age of two, including men, women, married couples, single parents, adoptive parents, and adults who became parents via surrogacy.

Carried out in February by Ipsos, the study was enhanced by online bulletin board focus groups with 20 first-time parents in the U.S. conducted by Schlesinger, on behalf of Omnicom firm Ketchum.

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"This first-time journey is pretty universal and there are great opportunities for brands to better engage with this audience," said Sara Garibaldi, director of Ketchum's New York brand marketing practice. She is also head of Ketchum's brand new parents specialty, which launched Tuesday.

The study found almost one in three parents (31%) said advice received from brands was helpful, although 37% said it was unhelpful, overwhelming, annoying, or condescending — 26% said they received no advice from brands at all.

While the majority of parents react with happiness and excitement when they find out they are expecting, 27% do not. But, despite financial concerns, furnishing the baby's nursery becomes a labor of love and emotional escape for many first-time parents.

"Marketers and communicators should evaluate how early in the journey to enter their lives and how to demonstrate value as they seek emotional escape and build out the nursery," said Garibaldi.

Of those surveyed, almost three in every four (74%) said research helped reduce stress related to becoming a parent. However, about the same proportion (73%) acknowledged there was an overwhelming amount of things to learn.

"Brands need to figure out how they can break through that clutter and be an easy resource for first-time parents," said Garibaldi. "They can do this by simplifying their messaging."

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Fewer than one in four parents (22%) said they used all the baby products they bought or were given in the past year. Garibaldi noted brands should build an emotional connection with new parents to avoid becoming another item on their checklist they will return or throw away.

Respondees said brands also struggle when marketing to new parents with providing emotional guidance, advice, and support; being mindful that new parents aren't completely defined by their newborn; and having an authentic voice about the harsh realities of the first three months with a baby.

The study found 54% of new parents said they have been more supportive of brands who do good for charity than before having children, and 49% say they have donated more to causes that support families and children in need.

This story was first published in PRWeek.

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