Marketing To Memmy’s (Moms In Emerging Markets)

Using Fact, Foresight and Familiarity to innovate for consumers in rapidly changing emerging markets.

BRIC, EAGLES, CIVETS – whatever the acronym, the message is the same. Opportunities will be driven by high potential growth and emerging markets. Given that reality, we’ve coined an acronym of our own that we’re convinced will be critical for marketers to master if they want to drive growth in those up-and-coming countries – MEMS: Mothers in Emerging Markets (or MEMMY’S for those who prefer the more familiar).

Over the past few years, our work at Fletcher Knight has taken us to five of what Goldman Sachs calls the Growth 8 countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia. In our work in these markets for global companies like Colgate and Mondelez, we’ve been faced with a fundamental challenge — how do you spot core consumer insights and truths amidst a whirlwind of change – change that is often rapid, uneven and incredibly complex?

We’ve learned that understanding as much as possible about MEMMY’s before we ever meet them face-to-face makes our on-the-ground research far deeper and more productive. We use a three-tiered approach – Fact/Foresight/Familiarity – to help us gain rapid understanding of moms in these rapidly changing markets before we ever sit down with them across the kitchen table. Let’s take Mexico as a growth market example:

FACT: We do our homework on a culture, uncovering as many illuminating statistics as possible. Mexico, for example, has seen tremendous change in the past 40 years. The birth rate has declined steeply from 6 children born to each woman in the 1970’s to 2.1 children per woman in 2009. At the same time, the number of working women in Mexico has increased from 17% in the 1970’s to 46% in 2009. Furthermore, Mexico leads the world in adult obesity at 30% and has seen childhood obesity grow from 18% in 1999 to 31% in 2006. The country has shifted from a crisis of under-nutrition 30 years ago to over-nutrition today. These statistics mean that MEMMY’s are looking for more ideas and products than ever in managing their family’s diets, seeking out quality food that balances health, convenience and affordability.

FORESIGHT: As part of our foresight process, we connect with a wide range of external experts within the market who can provide nuanced insight into current and future consumer behavior. For a recent global weight management project we interviewed practicing nutritionists in Mexico to help us dig beyond the statistics. One of the many fascinating points was that although obesity has become a pressing issue in Mexico, many consumers still believe that thin people are ill or weak – a holdover of Mexico’s past when malnutrition was a bigger issue than obesity. What this critical insight implies is that marketing weight management products to a Mexican population still wary of being slender will be dramatically different from marketing those products in the United States where thinness is a national obsession.

FAMILIARITY: To gain a more personal, more intuitive understanding of MEMMY’s, we partner with marketers in the local country to create rich, textured consumer profiles. These inspirational consumer bios help us understand mindset psychographics — the dreams, realities and complexities of women — in a way that demographics and statistics can never capture. On a recent personal care project in Mexico, we explored the world of Maria, a traditional, non-working 32-year-old mom with three young children. While her children’s health was her #1 priority, this profiling technique revealed that Maria cares just as much about her children’s appearance as she does about their health because she views the right weight and a beautiful smile as tickets to a good job, a good marriage and overall better future. When we presented new product ideas in qualitative research, these insights rang completely true – and allowed us to craft positionings and product ideas that were deeply relevant to Mexican consumers.

Future growth will be driven by these high potential markets like Mexico, and within those markets growth will be driven by the MEMMY’s who control 80% of the household purchases. Our Fact/Foresight/Familiarity approach has driven successful business-building brand strategy in several growth markets besides Mexico. Marketers, it’s time to get to know MEMMY’s.

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