Staying Connected to Her Child is a High Priority for Mom—and Skype Makes it Simple
Skype, the popular telephone and videophone software service, allows users, including moms and their adult children, to inexpensively stay in touch. All Skype calls between devices are free, including computers, smart phones and tablets. There are also paid options that allow for calls to telephone lines.
In May 2011, Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion. Use of Skype has climbed steadily since its introduction in mid-2004. At present, Microsoft estimates nearly 47 million uses. Parents make up 45.8% of users, and 53.7% are women—so there are a lot of moms using Skype. By sharing these demographics, Microsoft is clearly petitioning advertisers who target parents and families.
We have many stories of moms using Skype to stay in touch with remote family members and share the latest developments in their lives. With the average Skype call lasting 27 minutes, users clearly are communicating at a deeper level than a quick text message or Facebook post.
An example comes from Susan, who uses Skype to call her in-laws each week. Susan and her husband Rob, parents of an elementary schoolchild, setup Rob’s parents in Italy with a webcam and Skype so that “Nonno” and Nonna” can share in their granddaughter’s life:
“Every Saturday morning, we call Italy computer-to-computer through Skype. Julia loves to show off her toys to her little cousin Emily and say ‘ciao’ to all her aunts and uncles. It means so much to us that Julia can still be seeing her family in Italy every week and really knowing who they are. She constantly talks about Nonno and Nonna, and her memories of being there on their farm stay fresher she she can see and talk to them regularly.”
When an adult child is highly mobile, say, when touring a foreign country, Skype can play a useful role. We met a mom of a 21-year-old who proudly reported that her daughter used Skype and McDonald’s free Wi-Fi service in Europe with her netbook to keep her mom posted of her travels.
Another example comes from out interview with Julie, a mom of a toddler. Julie reported using Skype to keep in touch with her husband on a daily basis while he served in Iraq:
“My son has grown up with technology. When he was a baby and my husband was deployed, we would get on Skype every day. So as a baby, he saw his dad every day on Skype. When my husband came home from deployment, Andrew recognized him. It was the greatest thing ever.”
Leslie also uses Skype for communicating with family in the military:
“I Skype with my family during events and holidays. When we have a family dinner, we usually Skype with my nephew who is in the US Air Force.”
Skype’s marketing approach during its early years has been well-documented. The first focus was on a benefit known to have great appeal to moms—namely a product that works well and is easy to use. As Nils Hammar, a former Skype employee, writes in his 2007 research paper “Skype: Reasons for Growth,” documenting the early history of Skype:
“The first version of Skype’s website was just as simple as the software. No technical or complicated words—focus on getting people to understand the benefits, and download and try out the product. The original tagline was simple: ‘Free Internet Telephony that Just Works’… the focus for the development team was all about ‘delighting the user’ and to make sure usability and call quality kept improving.”
Skype drove its growth with a combination of public relations and viral marketing, but with the rise of Apple’s iDevices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and built-in FaceTime, Skype faces competition that strikes right in its main focus—ease of use. Although FaceTime can only be used between users of Apple devices, as these devices become more widespread, so does the service. Jess adds:
“I do not use Skype. We use FaceTime on our iPad to see our in-laws in Wisconsin.”
FaceTime also seems to win with a perceived convenience factor. Even though Skype has an app for on-the-go calls with an iPhone, this user sees FaceTime as more convenient:
“I haven’t Skyped in months. However, I do use FaceTime on my iPhone on the go, at work, at home—usually at night.”
The name FaceTime also is a great example of putting the benefit of the product into the name. Beyond FaceTime, just last week, my daughter called me from her computer using Google Voice, another free application (within the United States). The Skype case example shows a product that quickly became popular with moms but appears to be in danger from competition that makes it even easier to stay in touch with family.
Filed under: Branding and Naming, Consumer Insights, Marketing Strategy Case Study, Marketing to Moms, Marketing to Moms of Older Children, Marketing to Teens, Marketing to Young Adults, Technology Strategy