"Don’t tell me who I am": Mush’s Sarah Hesz’s guide to marketing to mums
"Don’t tell me what I should be doing.
Don’t tell me who I should be.
Don’t tell me how I should feel.
As I started to write a set of guidelines to help the brands that we occasionally work with at Mush, I’m aware that I’m making our community sound a whole lot more hostile than they are in real life. Nowhere will you find a more thoughtful and gentle social community, but nowhere will you find so many women who are as surprised about the dramatic changes happening to their world.
When I look at the list of what not to do it’s interesting that I could also be talking about another life stage: becoming a teenager. Recent research shows that there is a real reason for this. Becoming a mum is a huge hormonal and neurological shift and, like adolescence, it even has its own word, “matresence”. It’s a term which is being pioneered by psychologists like Dr Alexandra Sacks in the US and Julianne Boutaleb in the UK. Sacks describes Matrescence, the developmental stage of new motherhood, as like adolescence, a transition where hormones surge, bodies morph and identity and relationships shift.
MRI scans show how a woman’s brain changes to become heightened when she becomes a mother; this also happens to fathers, but in a less pronounced way. Motherhood can be described as “the most rapid and dramatic neurobiological change of a woman’s life” as the brain is flooded with hormones and yet this transformation is an area that has been almost totally neglected by medical research.
The challenge for any brand who wants to talk to new mums is that this newly honed sensitivity can make some brands repellent. It also means that bullshit doesn’t work. Anything with isn’t done with authenticity will be particularly damaging if you are trying to talk to new mums.
However, on the flip side it does mean that there are lots of ways brands can support mums at a time in their lives when they genuinely need it. Some brands are already quietly doing a good job of this. These include Mothercare telling mothers they are not alone and Pampers making mums laugh. While Marks & Spencer has proved the value of placing kindness top of the agenda by offering free coffees for Mush Mums and free delivery for premature baby clothes."