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Busy mum Marianne McKenzie is also Managing Director of advertising media agency Rainmakers. Most days start at 6 am, early enough to arrange everyone’s day before a 7 o’clock gym class and the long work day ahead.
“Even though it’s the mother who is the recipient on Mother’s Day,” Marianne McKenzie tells us, “they probably bought the majority of their own gifts. In a cross-generational family where there are older mums, the ones you see at cafés and restaurants on Mother’s Day surrounded by their grandchildren, it’s the younger mums who organise those gifts and occasions too. Mothers do the organising for everybody!”
Mothers, aka the Major Household Shopper (MHHS) aged 25-54, are the top spenders across nearly every category with a few rare exceptions, like beer and cars.
Says Marianne McKenzie: “The MHHS is still the ‘Domestic Goddess’ if you will and that’s definitely female and usually a mother.”
Read the signals people
Speaking about her own Mother’s Day, retail expert Juanita Neville-Te Rito of The Retail Collective, concurs: “My family have never bought me Mother’s Day gifts. I buy them for myself and even give them the wrapping paper to wrap it in!
“Mothers purchase their own gifts for three main reasons: they best know the gifts they want; they don’t want last minute rubbish from the $2 Shop and third, it’s what I call ‘The burnt chops syndrome.’ That’s mum the martyr saying, ‘I’ll go last’.”
When it comes to direction for Mother’s Day gifts, Juanita Neville-Te Rito says it’s quite simple: “Read the signals people. When mum drops hints about a new hair dryer, device or perfume, listen up.
“Sometimes when she says, ‘No, no, you don’t need to get me anything. Don’t make a fuss’, she means the opposite.
“Being a nurturer is in a mother’s DNA, to look after everyone else. So as a result there’s less directional purchasing.”
Millennials choose experiences over stuff
Millennials however are a different kettle of fish. Juanita Neville-Te Rito explains: “What they’re giving are experiences like a spa session or a massage. Even a movie with mum is creating a memory. As a result they’re probably going to be giving less material gifts.”
This assertion is borne out by Taylor Smith, CEO of US employee rewards gurus Blueboard, who told CNBC: “Millennials are prioritizing their cars and homes less and less, and assigning greater importance to personal experiences. Gifting ideas for mothers take the form of ‘experiential’ packages including cooking classes and massages.”
Sisters are doing it for themselves
When mums aren’t adding star anise to their Vietnamese cooking class recipes, Amanda Carr, General Manager at Spectrum Brands, says they’re self-gifting – products like IPL hair removal products, or the new George Foreman Veggie Spiralizer.
Thanks in part to a social media army of mummy bloggers like uber health-conscious Gwyneth Paltrow, who endorses often extravagant self-gifting purchases, mothers are being encouraged to buy higher ticket items around Mother’s Day without the usual inherent guilt.
“We have three peak seasons, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day,” continues Amanda Carr. “It’s the attention that we can bring to it at a retail level that creates its success.” (See page 54 for some of the products involved in these efforts.)
However, she adds: “You probably don’t want to give your mother or partner a vacuum cleaner or an iron on Mother’s Day.”
Endorsing this sentiment is Sunbeam’s Cliff Carr, who says: “It would be a daring brand to promote task-skewed lines at Mother’s Day!
“This is the one time when a mother can feel justified spending money on a gift that will make her life easier or make her feel better about herself.”
When SDAs become kitchen trophies
Another big supporter of Mother’s Day is Breville. Brett O’Neill believes it’s design excellence – “Status symbols in the kitchen, call them kitchen trophies if you like” – and arresting promotions that attract female consumers at store level.
Products like Breville’s colour co-ordinated Luxe collection range of premium kettles and toasters, which not only match the brand’s Espresso machines, but also colour-match the Nespresso Creatista.
“Most importantly,” he adds, “it’s about the real estate in-store. You’ve got to have promotions to create a bit of theatre with eye-catching point of sale material. You need to grab the attention of consumers when they’re in the mood for gift giving.
“Sell-in is one thing,” he warns, “but you have to make sure you push it out to use a simplistic statement. Sell-through is absolutely vital.”
Is it still a Big Deal?
In a time when it seems everyone is pushing one event or another, we asked around the channel to find out if Mother’s Day was as important as it used to be in the promotional calendar.
Store managers were happy to confide that Mother’s Day was indeed still a significant event. However, with increasing levels of advertising required to fuel the promotional calendar retailers also recognised they were becoming increasingly reliant on suppliers to provide the “sizzle”.
One to openly concur is Patrick Neville at DéLonghi which is not alone in investing extensively in a number of different promotions and mechanics throughout this period. “It’s a big event. It’s one of our critical periods, there’s no doubt.”
On the other side of the debate is Sunbeam’s Cliff Carr who tells us: “Objectively, appliances are no longer a massive gift item for Mothers’ Day. However, as the retail sector invests so heavily in the occasion, it makes sense for the industry to have up-weighted conversations with consumers to leverage all and any sales opportunity. Any excuse to talk about our product is a good excuse.”
The Mother of all sales
More than previous years, when asked how their Mother’s Day sales were tracking, manufacturers, suppliers and store-level retailers alike were confessing off the record to tougher trading times.
One very well-known pundit said he was “feeling pretty beaten up” from a tough last 12 months and how “creative” he had to be to reach or exceed the same sales levels.
Breville’s Brett O’Neill however is definitely upbeat: “Our expectations for the industry is a stronger 2017 across the board and Breville is certainly making a big investment above and below the line to support that.”
What we can report is that mother’s, especially those who financially contribute to the household income, will feel more inclined to “self-gift” and spend on high ticket items than before.
If men keep their status symbols in the garage, women tend to keep them in the kitchen.
So – keep reading the signals, don’t forget to spoil your mother and reward them with the “Mother of all days”.
Mother’s and others – who spends what and where
Nielsen statistics around Mother’s Day (Nielsen Consumer & Media Insights Q1-Q4 2016) reveal some interesting attitudinal preferences – where mothers shop, why they shop and what they buy.
Breville has fresh ideas for mums
Breville has three current Mother’s Day promotions “Because every mum deserves a little luxury.” Each runs 1 April to 31 May.
Designed to highlight the new colour-matched “luxury” range of Luxe Kitchen Collection Packs beverage and cooking products, this “go in the draw to win” promotion is valid for the purchase of any Breville product and sure to appeal to design and style conscious mums.
The other two promotions are GWP (gift with purchase) mechanics that encourage the purchase of the Espresso Machine and the Bakery Boss. Purchasing the former entitles the recipient to 3 months’ coffee beans worth $150 while the latter purchase gets you a bonus Ice Cream bowl valued at $129.95.
DéLonghi comes to the party
DéLonghi has the following Mother’s Day promotions across its brands: