Marketing to UK mothers: A new archetype for a new era

Adam Chmielowski

Brands need to re-think the way they engage mothers by acknowledging the shifts and values which are shaping a new archetype of modern motherhood.

Giving mums in the UK a hard time

A glance at media headlines in the UK gives us an insight into the negative discourse around motherhood in the UK. "Working mothers damage their child's health" (The Telegraph), "Middle-class mothers make the countryside a no-go zone for fear of their children getting dirty." (Daily Mail). This is more than a media trend. Following the recent UK riots, politicians have put a spotlight on mothers' responsibilities (in the absence of fathers!) for the failings of British youth.

What makes this perception of motherhood in the UK all the more stark is comparing it to the global picture. We have worked extensively with brands aiming to engage mothers over the past twenty years, in very diverse cultures – from Cameroon and Nigeria, to Brazil, Mexico and China and throughout Asia – and one fundamental insight is clear: that the UK has the most negative language around motherhood. There's more about the challenge, the time scarcity, the pressure than in any other market globally. The joy of motherhood, the belief in the value of motherhood, shines through more strongly in those cultures than it does in the UK.

A tired set of metaphors