Facebook groups for mothers are overtaking traditional playgroups as a source of trusted advice and offers a largely untapped marketing tool for businesses wanting to sell their products, an Australian study has found.
Word-of-mouth in mothers’ groups and communities had fast become a major influence in mothers’ buying habits, according to QUT educationalist Rebecca English and marketing expert Raechel Johns from the University of Canberra.
Mothers’ primary source of sharing information used to be face-to-face at mums’ groups or playgroups but now virtual communities are growing in popularity.
“Our study found that mothers trust mothers and that mothers tend to trust the opinions of other mothers when they recommend a product,” Dr English says.
“It is not surprising that social media makes a contribution towards the buying behaviour of its users, but what is surprising is the strength of these non-face-to-face opinions in online mothers’ groups and communities.
“Repeated interactions with the community and the accumulation of trust make the effect stronger still, as the community matures.
“The study found the effect is strongest among mothers with the same number of children who are the similar ages.”
Recommendations from other mothers are more powerful than any other structured promotion.
“Organic promotion, for example using free product trials by well-connected or influential mums, is one way to tap into this market,” Dr English says.
But she says there’s dangers for businesses.
Although there were benefits of positive word-of-mouth, bad reviews could hold as much weight against a product as a positive review.
The study, Mothers’ influencing mothers: the use of virtual discussion boards and their influence on consumption, is published in the International Journal of Web Based Communities.
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