Why carmakers need to realise women are in the driving seat when it comes to buying new models
Laura Erskine reports on what she reckons sellers need to do to cater for mums at the wheel
Whether you're becoming a two-car family, or you're a parent let down by your current automobile or you need to upgrade to something more in keeping with your family's needs - you can be sure that at best, the marketing by car brands will be targeted at a happy couple with a similarly happy brood where dad is firmly in the driver's seat.
This is nothing new. Mums have been overlooked when it comes to targeted messages and tailored special offers for years. After all, it's the man's name on the finance isn't it? So why would they talk to mum. She just drives it, several times a day.
Considering the amount of time Millennial Mums are spending online (around eight hours a day), it baffles me why more targeted, digital campaigns to promote the relevant ranges and features of a family car are not considered as a priority by car brands.
Are the television ads for cars reaching their audience? Most of our MummyPages mums are juggling so much that an episode of the latest series on ad-free Netflix is the extent of their television consumption.
The car market has not yet tapped into the power of the Millennial Mum, yet she is the most influential person when it comes to choosing the family car. What's more she is ridiculously influential with her peers - mums buy from mums.
Advocacy for a particular car brand based on first-hand recommendations from mothers within her community or indeed from an online community of mums such as MummyPages.ie, is a key influencer for the family car purchase decision. The value placed upon this peer recommendation is considered of much greater value than that of even an expert in the motoring field. That's why we introduced our 'As loved by MummyPages.ie' seal of approval. This exclusive badge is earned by brands following rigorous product testing by a sample of mums.
You see one will tell another how easy a car is to park or otherwise, how handy it is to have the extra seats in the rear, the fact the boot can easily handle a buggy, two scooters and the shopping.
She'll rave to her friends about the time she brought it in for a service and got offered a replacement car free of charge because they knew she still had to do the school-run. And you can be sure that any mum who has been stuck at the side of the road with a crying baby and a whining toddler due to a flat, will thank her lucky stars that the free roadside assistance will be referenced in a multitude of social media posts.
If car brands can position their vehicle's key attributes with messaging that talks to mum's need for safety, practicality and affordability along with her desire for style, they will win both hearts and minds.
We spoke to a cross-section of those who make up Ireland's biggest online parenting community - MummyPages.ie - to understand the biggest influencers on the all-important buying decision. The results confirmed the anecdotal evidence we had gleaned within our forum over the years.
Listen up car brands because this is gold: 82pc say they are the key decision-maker and have the final say when it comes to choosing the family car.
Seven-in-10 would prefer to deal with a female sales person in the showroom. The fact remains that women identify with women.
Millennial Mums are an educated group of consumers. It's highly likely they've already done a huge amount of online research on the car. So before they ever step inside a showroom, they are far along in their decision making process. In fact, according to our research, more than 75pc use online car reviews from trusted sites, while the school car park is the most popular place for more than half to compare a car's appearance and practical interior seating and storage space. Add a fellow mum to the sales conversation in the showroom and the chances are she'll close the deal.
When you delve into the tipping points for a mum in deciding to buy a car, you can see how the emotional support and empathy offered by a female salesperson might be more conducive to converting into a sale.
Having your first baby or adding a sibling to a growing family were cited as the lead reasons to prompt a family to change their car for two-thirds of mothers. Returning to work after maternity leave was the third major reason for 44pc to change.
So as the Irish car distributors look for new ways to drive sales in a market where their biggest competitor comes in the form of Brexit and huge numbers of used imports, maybe they should look to mum?
* Laura Erskine is Head of Community, MummyPages.ie