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Can You Buy Good Parenting?

My team studies the purchase motivations of consumers as a means to formulate meaningful segmentation and positioning strategies. Motivational research (such as laddering) is used to draw out brand distinctions to connect how sought-after brand elements link to underlying personal needs and values. This method allows us to understand consumer decision chains (essentially the why behind the buy). I have personally had the pleasure of exploring the psyche of hundreds of consumers across many different industries and categories. We have accrued purchase motivation insight from items as exciting as luxury jewelry and cars to things as specific and surprisingly emotional as purchasing a 529 investment plan for grandchildren.  

One thing that remains consistent across categories is that all purchase decisions are driven by the need to fulfill underlying personal values like increasing self-esteem, social belonging, obtaining achievement, fiscal responsibility, etc. Consumers seek out product benefits that better fulfill personal needs.

More specifically, when you study the purchase behavior of parents, the underlying value of being a “good parent” emerges. Surprised by this? Most likely not. But what is surprising is that different groups of like-minded “good parents” may purchase the same product, but see the product benefits very differently.

To bring this to life, I will walk through a few examples of the “good parent” value that emerged in separate motivational-based research studies, all coincidently, related to the morning breakfast routine.

First, I will use the cereal category to bring consumer motivations to life. For this example, parents are seeking out different brand attributes to ultimately to fulfill the same underlying value, being a good parent.

We can see below that one parent may be driven by a healthy cereal as a way to support the child’s nutritional needs to keep them healthy and active. Where another parent wanted to ensure the child liked the good taste of the cereal so they would have a full stomach and be focused when they head off to school.

The motivations of the cereal-buying parent

You can see how you can begin to prioritize brand benefits in messaging if you understand what segment your target consumer falls into.

Now let’s look at orange juice.

The motivations of the OJ-buying parent

We can see a distinct difference in what parents are seeking — particular brand benefits fulfill personal needs to put family first or maintain a bond with their kids. The example portrays how marketers can introduce personally relevant, meaningful communication and imagery to bring this motivation to life.

Even the coffee category has “good parent” decision chains emerge. This example pulls out a motivational chain associated with choosing a single cup brewing machine.

The motivations of the single cup coffee-buying parent

Again, we can see that understanding the nuances of personal relevance is key. Some parents are purchasing to satisfy everyone in their household where others are looking for the convenient option.

As a new mom, I can now relate to the insight we have generated associated with the good parent value. I find myself researching products that provide benefits associated with safety and development. Because of my background, I know that I ultimately purchase products that enable me to better fit into the good parent mold I have envisioned for myself.

I am purchasing products that will help fulfill the parent I want to be.

When we understand what is ultimately driving purchase decisions, we can then begin to be more effective marketers and tailor messaging in the most resonate, meaningful way.

For more information, see the following article, Neuroscience in Marketing. Ron Park, Vice President, Analytics, Merkle, said, “In order to truly maximize marketing effectiveness, we must create rewards for consumers by delivering on optimal relevance to the brand—and the brand experience—to each individual.”

For more information about this data see the following article Analytics, Strategy, and Orange Juice and join Merkle's upcoming webinar on The Neuroanalytics of Marketing on Wednesday, October 14 at 2 pm ET!