Ultimately, no matter where you are in the world, every parent wants to raise children who can thrive and survive.
This universal need to do parenting well has translated into a multi billion dollar industry which has included the parenting ‘manual’ trend a la ‘Smart parenting for smart kids’ and ‘Parenting for Dummies’ as well as the emergence of new concepts and theories, such as ‘free-range parenting’.
In a global context, people are becoming more honest and ‘real’ when it comes to parenting. We’ve become a lot more forgiving of moms who are often trying their best to juggle the responsibilities that come with the many hats they wear daily.
To this end, in the 2016 Modern Parents Report by Casandra, 55% of parents stated they are open about their parenting mishaps and challenges, something that was previously only discussed in hushed tones in confidence with a select few.
This new wave of ‘honest parenting’ – that highlights the real difficulties of parenting and the fallibility of parents – is being mirrored in movements the world over as moms push the spotlight onto the ‘real world of parenting’ in humorous and often tongue-in-cheek ways.
For example, Scummy Mummies, a UK-based comedy duo hosting a fortnightly chat show for ‘less than perfect parents’, shed light on some of the parenting mishaps they have had with much reference to wine.
Several global brands have tapped into this ‘less than perfect’ trend to connect more relevantly with mothers and grab attention and mind share. For instance, Kraft has recently captured the spirit of imperfect parenting with its ‘Swear like a Mother’ campaign. Babies R Us also offered a real and humorous take on becoming a parent with its recent ‘Be Prepared-ish’ campaign.
Being a parent in Africa comes with additional layers of complexity. While moms on the continent face similar parenting difficulties as their global counterparts, the global picture doesn’t quite capture the complexities of parenting in Africa.
Kantar Added Value recently embarked on a piece of thought leadership that explored the ‘Evolving Afro-feminine’. This unearthed insights into the world of African women, delving into the issues that women are facing on the continent, and provided recommendations for marketers to better connect with this cohort on the continent.
With perspectives from women across several African countries, the study revealed that African parents are struggling to get the balance right: they want their children to succeed in a modern world, but not at the expense of losing their African identity.
Many of the mothers interviewed noted the intensity with which they feel technology is forcing their children onto the global stage, resulting in their children crafting their own perceptions of what is right, and relevant based on global fads and trends.
Ultimately, this diet of Western and European culture, is considered by African mothers to be diluting the strength of their African identity.
So, what does this mean for brands in Africa?
There is a growing need for content and products that reflect African culture and celebrate African children. Although there are pockets of relevance in this area, more can be done by brands to truly make a difference in this space. Brands that are likely to succeed in the future are those that will help mothers to impart their heritage to their children easily and authentically. Consider the following:
1. True African representations = True connections
All too often media and brands gravitate towards messages that focus on Western family ideals, which are not always true for the African context. There is a definite need to reflect the real African Family in a way that people can truly connect with. For example, consider demonstrating the tension between instilling cultural lessons while balancing global influences, or take a page out of Nigerian ‘Bino & Fino’s’ book, a Nigerian cartoon series created to show African children a reflection of themselves.
2. Help women to empower the future of their children
Understand the tension that African women on the rise face when raising a child, trying to be a success in the global world themselves, while maintaining their values and heritage. Innovate and help these mothers navigate their real challenges through your offering, value adds, messaging and distribution network.
3. Embrace storytelling to breathe new life into your brand and keep the ties to culture alive
Storytelling is a key part of African culture and there is an opportunity for brands to help parents teach their kids about their African heritage by communicating in ways that are authentically rooted in their African culture and language. Sponsor a children’s African story-telling show, or creat a digital series of African fables tied to a promotional pack.
Essentially, to be relevant, brands need to help African women impart their heritage, a role many African mothers believe brands can (and should) play by connecting with their parenting imperatives.
Note: African Parenting Redefined is one of the six spaces that Kantar Added Value uncovered in its Evolving Afro-feminine thought leadership study. Five more ‘winning with African women’ spaces were identified and unpacked further. Each space juxtaposes the global reality versus the African nuance, with examples, implications and recommendations for brands to win with this market.
Nicole Shapiro, Associate Director at Kantar Added Value