Trends in Insights from Research with Moms

Mom & child using tablet

By The GutCheck Team

Oh, moms; where would we be without them? The person we each have to thank for life on this earth is also the consumer whom many brands have to thank for keeping them in business. Though it may seem sexist to saddle women with the childcare, clothing, and grocery shopping, the reality is that moms are often in charge of these household-related purchases. (After all, she does know best.) But the busy life of a mother is far more than the sum of her purchases, so brands looking to appeal to this crucial—yet often hard to reach—target audience must first gain a better understanding of how their products fit into the lifestyle, values, and functional needs of moms everywhere. Below are some of the most pertinent and eye-opening consumer insights we’ve gleaned from qualitative research targeting parents and moms in particular. Incorporating the voices of moms into relevant product development may help brands resonate more successfully with this powerful consumer force.

Moms Are Highly Skeptical of Health-Conscious Food Claims

When it comes to eating better, moms are looking out not only for their own well-being, but the well-being of their children and loved ones as well. In our Consumer Packaged Goods-centered market research exclusively targeting women with children in the household, we found that moms define healthy foods most often by what is left out: artificial ingredients, GMOs, sodium, fat, etc. This means they’re attracted to packaged food products with minimal processing, and know that these can usually be found in the perimeter of the grocery store.

“Even sugar-free and fat-free can mean that chemicals have been used to make these products this way. GMO is another definite red flag.” -44, Charlotte Hall, MD

But respondents reported a lot of confusion surrounding the terminology found on health-conscious food packaging, including vague terms such as “GMO,” “all natural,” and “organic.” Though attracted to the implications of this front-of-box language, moms place the majority of their trust in nutrition fact labels, verifying any supposed benefits therein. Though there are certain telltale signs of a healthier food product, including bright colors and nature-based imagery, moms agreed that certification and/or evidence that reinforces labels would greatly help assuage their general mistrust of CPG health claims. A compilation of moms’ tenuous understandings of health buzzwords can be found in the table below, and further implications for food product positioning and packaging can be found in the full report.

And They Prefer Creative Games That Can Grow with Their Kids

Keeping children entertained can feel like a near constant battle for parents, who would also love for their kids to somehow benefit mentally from their playtime. So when your child starts begging for a video game, how do you find one that’s stimulating, not too violent, and requires some brainpower? Our investigation into the preferences of parents of children ages 7-12 years old revealed that Minecraft is valued for its customizable experience and intellectual stimulation.

“Both my daughters always pick Minecraft first. They rush to their Kindles as soon as they are allowed.” —Heather, Children younger than 4, 7-9, 10-12

Parents found that Minecraft’s collaborative nature encourages interaction with friends and family, as well as enhances creative and strategic development. Minecraft is also praised for its lack of explicit violence and promotion of problem-solving skills—qualities parents feel are lacking in most video games. Yet perhaps the most valuable characteristic of Minecraft is that it can be accessed from multiple devices and is constantly being redesigned and rebuilt by the players, making for a game that grows with kids and always feels fresh. Parents believe Minecraft should pursue even more customizable experiences, including the way packages are priced. Parents also shared more about their attitudes and concerns about electronic games in general, found in the full executive summary.

Moms Want Toys That Will Last—Just Like the Ones They Hand Down

In our exploratory investigation of what parents look for when toy shopping for children six years old and younger, we discovered that oftentimes the best toys were actually bought for the parents—when they were kids, that is.

“My girls would and have played with all the toys I enjoyed. I kept many of my ponies and Barbies. Each of my girls has also revived a cabbage patch doll.”
– Female, 36, IA, children aged 10, 13, 16

Parents enjoy handing down sentimental favorites like Barbies, action figures, and toy cars; they are also willing to buy newer versions of older classics. This is in keeping with parents’ general aversion to fads when it comes to toys, placing a premium instead on original, unique finds that will make for lasting memories. Legos were deemed the favorite by parents and kids alike, namely for their unisex appeal, promotion of imagination, educational stimulation, and position as a proven classic.

“I make sure they are age appropriate. I look at how sturdy they are. I do not like to buy plastic junk. Also, whether or not they will outgrow them quickly. I like to buy toys that allow them to use their imaginations and be creative.” – Female, 40, FL, children age 4, 6, 8

Overall, when shopping for toys, moms are in it for the long haul: they want something that will not only last for years, but also hold their child’s attention, emphasizing creativity and/or cognitive development, as well as fostering social interaction and/or communication. Building blocks, play kitchens, art sets, and Big Wheels were commonly mentioned, while screen time was often limited, and dolls/action figures with unrealistic bodies were widely criticized. Parents lament that in the age of electronics, cheap plastic, and franchising, toys that meet the criteria above are often hard to find, so brands would do well to keep the standards of those who are buying the toy—not just playing with it—in mind. To learn more about what parents look for when shopping for their little ones, check out the report summary here.

And They’re Reluctant to Blow Their Cash on a Halloween Costume

Halloween is usually a blast for kids, but it can be a stressful, expensive nightmare for parents. When we asked parents for their thoughts on Halloween costume shopping, they insisted that having fun is the primary motivation, but staying in budget is considered a challenge. Even with respondents split between those who prefer to DIY and those who prefer to shop, all agreed that pre-made costumes from retailers are almost always overpriced.

“Cost is the biggest factor. Typically, if you purchase a pre-made costume, it’s flimsy material (not ideal for Ohio weather in late October), and it’s pretty costly. I can’t bring myself to spend $30 on an outfit [that] they will freeze in and wear only once. That would be $120 for my kids to wear for one night.” – Female, 32, DIY Group

Each group also had pain points specific to their approach. The DIY group enjoys the creation of the costume, but gets frustrated by the time it takes to assemble, especially if they can’t find the supplies needed, or the end product doesn’t turn out right. Meanwhile, the shoppers enjoy hunting for the right costume with their children, but get annoyed searching for the right size, as well as trying to find decent quality for a reasonable price. But both groups are willing to shop most anywhere to find what they need, including big-box stores, Halloween pop-ups, and fabric/craft stores, both online and in-person. And both draw their costume inspiration from a wide variety of pop culture resources, though the final idea comes to them in different ways.

Overall, both groups are looking to minimize costs as much as possible, with DIYers re-purposing items they own, and shoppers putting more effort into comparing selections and prices. All respondents requested more money-saving options from retailers, like discounts and sales, and one consumer even suggested a costume exchange of sorts. You can read the full executive summary to learn more about which aspects of Halloween shopping parents enjoy and which they would like to improve.

Whether you’re looking to help your shopper marketing resonate or just want to boost your market intelligence for future product innovation, keeping the voice of moms alive and active will help your brand meet their forward-looking, cost-conscious needs.

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