Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Reaching Mom When the World is Upside Down

How Brands Can Step Up for Moms

While the pandemic has been challenging to all, perhaps the group most dramatically impacted has been parents. Having to weather an incredibly volatile storm themselves while also shepherding their children through it — all without their sometimes shaky but mostly reliable support networks — it’s a crisis within a disaster within a catastrophe.
The most recent issue of Time Magazine highlights the experiences of seven women throughout the pandemic. Photo: Time Magazine, March 2021
Yes, all parents have faced the challenges, but working moms have borne the brunt. Take note “In September, an eye-popping 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — four times more than men. The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on households, and women are bearing the brunt of it. Not only have they lost the most jobs from the beginning of the pandemic, but they are exhausted from the demands of child care and housework — and many are now seeing no path ahead but to quit working.” (NPR, Stuck-At-Home Moms: The Pandemic’s Devastating Toll On Women 28 October 2020)

And collectively, we’re aware of the problem — frankly many of you reading this are in the eye of the storm — but little is changing.

“Despite these alarm bells clanging, signaling a financial and emotional disaster among America’s mothers, who are doing most of the increased amount of child care and domestic work during this pandemic, the cultural and policy response enacted at this point has been nearly nonexistent.” (New York Times, The Primal Scream, 4 Feb 2021)

And while brands can’t alter the abysmal state of parental support in the US and can’t end a pandemic, they can still support moms in ways big and small. We’ve moved beyond the heartwarming “we’re in this together” messaging brands soothed us with in the early days of the pandemic. Now we’re yearning for the “here’s how we’re helping” phase. This massive disruption has led women everywhere to reprioritize and rethink how post-pandemic life will look for themselves and their families.

So what is Mom really looking for? And how can brands show up for her?

Brands Can: Share the Burden

Pre-pandemic, one of the thin threads that held the working family fabric together was outsourcing. For those fortunate enough to do so, many household tasks, like cleaning or childcare, were shared by others outside the home. With the addition of homeschooling, virtual work, pandemic quarantine/ close contact management (if your kids are in school, you know) and the subtraction of previously available help, the family management burden is immense. Brands like Cleo, a benefits platform for working families, have ramped up their offerings dramatically to offer on-demand childcare, parenting workshops, tutoring, mental health support and even vitamin & supplement coaching. All managed within a simple, intuitive platform that offers vetted choices so Mom doesn’t need to spend valuable hours scouring the internet.

Brands Can: Put Her In the Driver’s Seat

Mom’s role as family healthcare CEO became more demanding overnight. COVID produced massive anxiety around the health of her and her family. In response, Walgreens launched myWalgreens in fall of 2020.

The new myWalgreens is a simplified program designed to help you “save money, save time and stay healthy”. It houses loyalty points and savings, offers more convenient and safe shopping options and most importantly, elevates the role of Walgreens from convenient neighborhood grab-and-go to healthcare partner through helpful coaching tools like 24/7 pharmacy chat and real-time flu alerts.

“As America’s community pharmacy, Walgreens is delivering an unparalleled experience to help customers and patients manage their health and wellbeing during the most severe health crisis of our lifetimes,” said John Standley, Walgreens president.
Walgreens is showing up for Mom by giving her a trusted, reliable tool, access to real savings and a sense of control over her family’s well-being. It’s often not just one thing that makes the difference — it’s creating a simplified experience with real, tangible benefits.

Brands Can: Fuel a Brighter Future

But it’s not just healthcare. All of this chaos has ignited a desire to take charge of anything we can — including finances. Enter Ellevest, a financial company “built to get more money in the hands of women”. And beyond the investment algorithm that considers key pain points for women such as pay gaps, career breaks and longer lifespans, Ellevest empowers them with targeted communication.
Delivering bite-sized tips to time-starved working women across platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, Ellevest is determined to raise the financial power and confidence of a traditionally underserved group. Brands like Ellevest are delivering tangible value and respecting the busy working mom lifestyle by meeting her where she is i.e. scrolling her phone in the precious post-bedtime hours.

Brands Can: Offer Teaching Tools

One of Mom’s greatest responsibilities is to prepare her children for life. It’s an enormous source of stress, a culprit of mom insomnia worldwide. Brands that provide useful, engaging tools and guidance can become a true ally for mom.

Sticking with financial literacy, moms want to extend that same financial power to their children. Brands like Goalsetter, a smart money app for the whole family, helps parents teach their kids financial fundamentals through gamified tools and money lessons taught by memes.
Further, “resiliency” was already a parenting buzzword but watching the world turn upside down has increased the pressure to help prepare kids for an unpredictable future. The challenge is that resiliency is hard to teach — we know they need it, but we don’t know how to make it happen.
Introducing the Failure Toy®. Recently launched by Twenty One Toys, it ‘challenges the notion that failure is something to be feared and hidden, and instead something that can be practiced and developed as a skill’.

Goalsetter and The Failure Toy are easing Mom’s anxiety by giving her a way to teach her kids valuable life skills in fun, interactive ways. They understand one of the key pain points of parenting and have created solutions parents can feel great about.

Brands Can: Add a Bit of Delight

When the world is heavy, little moments of respite and happiness are essential. Any mom will tell you that group text meme sharing was the lifeblood of 2020. But beyond that, we’re all seeking ways to break up the monotony of the daily grind.
Healthy snack brands like NatureBox pivoted early in the pandemic — from workplace delivery to a personalized at-home delivery model. The NatureBox Remote Office Snack from Home Program allows consumers to pick from a selection of unusual, delightful snacks, like peanut cookies with maca, which offer functional benefits like stress relief, enhanced focus and increased energy. Along with a cheeky social tone-of-voice, it serves as a bright spot when every day feels like Groundhog Day.
Working moms deserve praise during the pandemic, but stopping there is a mistake too many companies have made. Bottom line: a funny Tweet or an inspirational quote might be a ray of sunshine in yet another day of quarantine, but brands need to go beyond that to offer the sustaining benefits that truly serve moms. More than a pat on the back or some recognition, moms are looking for tangible support in the new and expanded roles they’ve taken on over the last 12 months.

The companies unable to provide this kind of value risk being left behind like the sourdough trend of last March. And those that do? They’ve earned the right to position themselves as Mom’s sidekick as we enter Year 2 of the “new normal.”


Melinda Davis

VP of Strategy
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Melinda Davis

VP of Strategy
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