The modern homemaker

“Mummies don’t drive”

- my four-year-old son asserted over dinner the other day

This surprised me in two ways:

a / I drive him around all the time
b / despite the huge strides our societies have taken to challenge traditional gender stereotypes, our kids are still making assertions about jobs that are for men and jobs that are for women. There’s plenty more to do on this front it seems.

It’s impossible for brands to ignore that the 21st Century household is vastly different from the household of yesteryear.

Generation rent, working mums, stay-at-home dads, multi-generational households, single-sex couples and families all contribute to a rich tapestry that is the modern household.

So why are so many household products and communications still designed around the traditional female homemaker?  A cursory review of household product advertising on YouTube shows that women remain the dubious stars of the household cleaning show. But this doesn’t reflect modern reality and brands need to catch up.

Firstly, the concept of homemaking itself is being redefined.

  • While household compositions are changing, of course many of the traditional motivations for cleaning remain in place: ensuring a hygienic environment to prevent illness, gaining social approval via the look of one’s home
  • But the extent to which these motivations are felt and by whom, however, has changed and continues to change
  • The increasing desire for Instagram ready homes, trends towards gentleness over strength and the rise of generation rent to name but a few, are all factors that are shaping how we feel towards the bricks and mortar that surround us and the way we ‘maintain’ them

Secondly, it’s no longer expected to only be women’s work. The rules of household maintenance are changing:

  • Men expect to be involved – two thirds of men now claim to do some/all of the household cleaning on a regular basis, and their belief that the cleaning should be shared is the biggest driver of their participation (Incite study 2017)
  • New traditions are being forged – with women no longer being conditioned to be the (only) homemaker this breaks the legacy of routines and traditions being handed down through the generations, instead it’s a time for new roles and regimes
  • The single buying point is less relevant – with household cleaning now something that needs to be discussed, negotiated and shared out across householders this means more buying points for brands and more product exposure

Room to grow

The shifting dynamic of the household leaves significant opportunity for brands to nurture and deepen their relationships with today’s homemakers, embracing their diversity.  This, in turn, can lead to growth if they take the right approach.

There are four questions you can ask yourself to determine how well placed you are to capitalise on this opportunity:

1 / Does your product portfolio reflect the needs and behaviours of the modern homemaker? Are men and women motivated by the same things, in the same way, for the same ends?

2 / As a brand, are you helping newer, ‘less educated’ homemakers navigate the category effectively?

3 / Are you representing the modern household in your communications and delivering the right messages to resonate with this richly diverse consumer base?

4 / And finally, at the very least, are you thinking ‘they’ instead of ‘her’ when devising marketing plans for your brands?

If you can answer these questions, you are on the road to a gleaming new world.

To understand how we can help you make sense of this changing landscape, please get in touch.