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Australian Mums Put Retailers on Notice

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Australian Mums Put Retailers on Notice

Are you a retailer selling to mothers?

GlobalData reports that mums in Australia are responsible for $132 billion in consumer spending every year. Not only this, mothers are highly influential in the purchase decisions made amongst their extended family and social networks. There is an incredible risk to a brand in not satisfying a mum’s service expectations. Yet, retailers around the country continue to underservice this powerful consumer segment and women aren’t buying …. quite literally. What’s worse, they are telling all their friends about their bad experiences too.

Last night I went out with the netball mums. We are a collection of professional women on the other side of 40 working in banking, finance, retailing, professional services and consulting. Our common thread is that we have 14-year-old daughters. Whilst our kids no longer play netball together, we continue to catch up every few months. Just like when any group of mums get together, all manner of things are spoken about, and invariably we talk about brands and exchange recommendations and bad experiences. Last night the conversation was around the poor retail experiences, and the netball mums weren’t happy.

Fleur shared a story about her recent experience shopping at Marcs. An avid shopper and fashionista, Fleur spied a great top she quite liked. She asked the sales assistant for size 14 only to be told, “We don’t carry extreme sizes.” WTF? When did size 14 become an ‘extreme’ size?

Tracy then piped up and told us about how she picked out a dress to try on in a Sportscraft Pop Up shop earlier that day. A size 16 dress, with a series of ruffles on it, had caught her eye. The sales assistant came over to assist her en route to the fitting rooms and told her, “Being larger, you could use those extra frills.” Surely sales assistants who are customer facing all day long know that the average Australian woman is size 14 or above?

Both women left the stores feeling insulted and humiliated. After sharing these stories, all ten of the netball mums had formed extremely negative perceptions of both Marcs and Sportscraft and this will subconsciously or consciously shape our future buying behaviour.

Marketing to Mums recently undertook a survey of more than 1800 Australian mums and found that mum-to-mum recommendations are the second most influencing factor in our purchasing.  Similarly, poor experiences with brands are shared.

If you are a retailer reading this article, you should be worried. Are you overlooking adequate training of your client facing staff? Do your staff have a solid understanding of mums today? This also applies outside of fashion, in banking, healthcare and real estate; in any industry where sales staff interface with mums. There are key segment differences and issues each segment faces. Understanding the nuances can really make a significant difference to your sales and to customer satisfaction.

Shared experiences and stories shape our buying behaviour. Remember, information from peers is a powerful influencer and negative stories spread like wildfire.  So, if you are a retailer make sure your staff are better trained in understanding the customer. It will pay off in the long run.

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  • Linda Tsiokas
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    OMG! Being called an extreme size as a size 14? That is horrific! I often blame the media for our distorted perception of what is normal, and unfortunately these types of incidents cause further damage to our psyche and self confidence. I know I personally enjoy shopping at xxx because I fit into a size 8 jean – but there is NO WAY I am a size 8. This is taking marketing to a new level, called deception perhaps! I wonder how these sales assistants will feel when they reach middle age, have kids, careers and households to manage and their bodies (hormones, metabolism) have a shape of their own? I wonder if they will remember their larger and extreme comments at this point? I do hope so. Thanks Katrina, great article.

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