Qual MR & families

Why parents are an essential demographic for qualitative market research

Mums are often referred to as the silent army – a mighty force that can be overlooked but who nevertheless wield great power. One in 11 mums now stay at home after having children, and there are approximately 1.86 million stay-at-home mums in the UK. Add on those that work from home or who work part-time to fit in with family life (a recent ONS found that most women in employment work part-time until their youngest dependent child is aged 11-15 years), and the army of potential qualitative market research candidates swells even more.

But what about dads? Times are changing: firstly, dads today are typically much more involved, and family dynamics are changing, too. From stay-at-home dads and single dads to two-dad families, the role of the dad in market research is becoming more and more important. In fact, diversity is becoming an increasingly important topic in market research as a whole as brands become more concerned with understanding what really makes their customers tick. By ensuring that all types of customers are heard, companies can ensure that they communicate with all of their customers - no matter who they are.

The power of the parents

When it comes to qualitative research, mums are typically seen as the most powerful group for retail market research because they have historically been the main consumer spenders for the family. A study by Mintel found that as well as being the lead decision-maker when it comes to clothing and food purchases, 84% of mums said that they typically have influence when making financial decisions for the family as well. But in today’s world, dads are buying too. Men today actually account for 50% of all consumption and have significant buying power. Millennial dads are making more and more of the purchasing decisions as well, with almost half of millennial fathers saying that brands play an important role in their life, compared to 38% of mums.

Qual MR & families

How to target parents for retail market research

With all this in mind, then, how can you target parents for market research? When it comes to recruitment methods, we find a varied approach usually works best with parents. From our experience of recruiting mums and dads for qualitative market research, reaching out via social media platforms works well, and we have found that parents are often very open to this approach and are willing to talk. With 86% of millennial dads turning to YouTube for guidance on key parenting topics, digital and online methods such as social media are a great way to speak to this audience.

Parents are often vocal, highly opinionated and like to share their views - especially over social media – whether that’s talking about a great new product or the latest developmental step in their child’s life. Just over three-quarters of mums have been involved with social media and the website community, making the internet a great place to kick off your recruitment. And dads want to share their opinions, too! In fact, dads are actually more likely than non-dads (or even mums!) to join online communities.

They take their roles as fathers very seriously, which means they also want to share their opinions to help others.

Additionally, mums often share their experiences on forums such as Netmums and Mumsnet too, so building relationships with these companies is also very beneficial, as well as researching local or regional children’s groups, local nurseries and parent and baby groups. Building these long-lasting relationships will stand a market research agency in good stead for any future projects with this demographic.

Make participating easy for them

Stay-at-home parents, those that work full time,  people who work from home and those that work part-time – all parents have many challenges and often feel stretched in a number of different directions. That’s why when it comes to engagement and taking part in retail market research, digital methods are your best bet. From online communities and video research to mobile ethnography, time-pushed parents will be more likely to engage with methodologies that involve short, snappy tasks. 

In today’s busy world, many parents feel that they don’t spend as much time as they would like to with their family, which means that long surveys or location-based focused groups probably won’t be as appealing as quick tasks that they can carry out on the go. It gives them a perfect opportunity to take part without having to worry about childcare costs or too much disruption to their lives. And because this demographic loves to share stories and advice, by allowing them to log on to an online community as and when is convenient to them, you can ensure you get a willing, engaged audience and – in our experience – richer content as a result.

If you are considering face-to-face methodologies such as focus groups or in-home interviews, you’ll need to think about what times will work well for your audience. If they have school-age children then day time before the afternoon school run could work well, or if you are targeting working parents, outside of office hours is probably best. If you want to reach out to parents with younger children,  you will need to be sympathetic to childcare issues as well. 

Alternatively, you could consider welcoming babies or toddlers to your group or choose a child-friendly market research viewing facility. Another option is to choose a venue near a good coffee shop, for example, which could help parents encourage a willing friend or grandparent to take the child for an hour or two while they attend.

Understand the needs of this demographic

Ensure that you consider that when conducting market research with parents, flexibility is essential. They may also let you down at the last moment – not through unreliability but simply the unpredictability of being a parent. A sick child or being let down by childcare could lead to no-shows, so be sympathetic and don’t add to their stress. Including an extra over-recruit for your research could be a good idea where numbers are critical.

Qual MR & families

What about incentives?

For some, the chance to share their views and opinions is enough. However,  for others, the bonus of an incentive such as a shopping voucher provides a well-earned treat that can encourage them to take part. When considering an honorarium amount, however, be mindful that your participants might have had to pay for childcare costs or travel if you are conducting face-to-face methodologies, so you should consider an incentive that not only makes it worth their while but also covers these additional costs, too.

If you are thinking about conducting a retail market research project with parents and are unsure which methodology would be best, you can find out more about online communities and how to ensure maximum engagement in our helpful guide:

95% engagement in MROCs