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CAPE TOWN - With unemployment rising in South Africa and slow economic growth, our country's households are under enormous pressure. The working moms who form the backbone of the nation are taking strain as they seek to manage the needs of their households and the demands of their jobs.

GfK South Africa’s Consumer Life 2018 research reveals that half of middle-class digitally connected South African mothers (LSM 6 to 10) work full-time, while another 10percent work part-time.

Mothers who work full-time are just as educated as their male counterparts, but more likely to hold a white-collar job rather than a highly skilled labour or professional role.

Compared to working dads, they feel less confident about their economic future. Just under half (49percent) feel very confident about the future, compared to 59percent of fathers. Working mothers spend an average of 5.6 hours a week commuting, compared to just five hours for fathers. Some 48percent are worried about crime and 38percent about unemployment and recession.

Their economic importance cannot be underestimated, since having a working mother in the family can push it into higher income bands - some 19percent of working mothers lift their families into the LSM 10 band through their contribution to earnings. Here are some insights for marketers addressing this market:

Help them to feel good, not stressed or guilty.

South Africa’s working mothers face high societal expectations, but also place high expectations on themselves. They feel a constant tension between social demands, their own ambitions and the way they put the needs of their children and spouses first. They rank power, self-recognition and self-interest far lower on their list of values than males and other women in South Africa.

They spend more time on grooming and are higher users of personal care products. They are more likely to skip breakfast at home. They are worried about their income, their families, and the safety of their children. Brands should offer them reassurance and calmness in their messages to appeal to them.

Use technology to reach them

Millennial and Generation X moms have had access to technology from early adulthood or even childhood, and have embraced mobile devices with great enthusiasm. In general, a significantly higher proportion of moms own smartphones than the general South African consumer (87percent versus 77percent).

These moms are increasingly barraged with real-time information, but may be too busy to act on it. Brands that deliver tailored and relevant information using mobile channels will be the ones that win - our research shows that among this market, 66percent want products to be tailored to their needs and 77percent said they liked tech “that knows me and makes recommendations.”

Connect with them in real time

In an uncertain economy, moms are price and deal conscious. While they are not leading edge in technology, they use their phones extensively for social media, ratings and reviews, and comparing prices. Point of sale is going to be a critical point of engagement, and social media is without a doubt a source of influence and a platform that amplifies messages.

Build a brand with purpose

Understanding the values, cultural identity, tastes and choices of South Africa’s diverse group of working mothers is critical for connecting with them on a personal level. As we prepare for a wave of Women’s Day and Women’s Month adverts, brands should ensure they practice the message preached in their marketing.

The new wave is here

The new wave of South African moms is here, and they are quite different from the mothers before them.

They come in with a different set of values, aspirations, tastes, preferences and tech and media behaviours. Keep an eye on their nuances of behaviour and belief, and let them know you understand their needs.

Rachel Thompson is an insights director at GfK South Africa.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.