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Inflation hits Parents – Especially Moms – Hard

By Kate Muhl | August 29, 2022 | 0 Comments

Customer Acquisition and RetentionMarketing Leadership and Strategy

Marketers should prioritize Moms’ (not parents’)  inflation concerns and shopping tactics

If the month of August means anything to American family households, it means back to school. Three-quarters of American elementary and secondary students are back to school before Labor Day, according to Pew Research Center. And that means households across the US are, right now, engaged in a flurry of school-related seasonal spending. Only this year, they’re doing it in the context of sky-high inflation.

Brands focused on family households need smart insights to connect with their targets. In the modern era, and in the name of acknowledging the changing roles of dads in family households, it can be tempting to target parents and not moms or dads.  That would make sense in a world where moms and dads mostly share household duties, and especially the shopping.

But in 2022, we are still not in that world.

In fact, far more moms than dads say they take the lead on shopping for the day-to-day non-discretionary purchases for the family. (see Figure 1)

Figure 1

Chart showing moms as key decision-makers when it comes to non-discretionary household purchasing


It’s no surprise, then, that more moms than dads express high levels of concern about inflation. And that more of them express concern about product availability. (See Figure 2). Shopping regularly for multiple people across an array of categories provides Moms many more opportunities to take notice.


Figure 2

charts sohwing moms' reater concern about prices and product availability

In our most recent research on consumer responses to inflation, “Consumers Wield New Shopping Tools In Pursuit of Inflation-Busting Cost Savings,” [subscription required] we uncovered that most consumers are embracing one of three key approaches to shopping as a result of inflation. Those approaches include:

  • Shift Shopping to Online: Decrease in-store shopping and increase on-line shopping (27% of consumers)
  • Decrease All Shopping: Decrease in-store and online shopping (23% of consumers)
  • Increase All Shopping: Increase in-store and online shopping (17% of consumers)

Shifting shopping to online is the most popular shopping approach for all consumers, as well as dads and moms. It’s the degree of popularity that’s notable. Moms are more likely than all consumers and more likely than dads to say that they’re decreasing their in-store shopping but increasing on-line shopping because of inflation. (See Figure 3)


Figure 3

chart showing three main approaches to inflation shopping

Not only are they leveraging online shopping to deal with inflation, Moms are leveraging a distinct set of tactics in response to inflation. Compared to dads, and to all consumers, it seems that Moms are more practical in their approaches, actively seeking deals (variety of online stores shopped) and leveraging digital for practical purposes (coupons, inventory checks). They’re less likely to use more novel digital tools like price prediction apps. (see Figure 4)


Figure 4

chart showing parents' diverging approaches to managing inflation


In the end, though, perhaps the top reason for marketers to home in on moms’ inflationary mindset and approach over dads’ is, moms may be more gettable or retainable than dads. (See Figure 5)


Figure 5

charts showing how parents react to skimp- and shrinkflation



One interpretation of Figure 5 is that moms are more wary than dads are of brands’ common inflation tactics. 72% of moms say they are likely to stop buying from a skimp/shrinkflation-using brand, versus only 66% of dads.

Another interpretation: Moms move into consideration mode when faced with tactics like shrinkflation and skimpflation. 86% of moms say they are going to think a bit about their brands and options (64% say they would prioritize and 22% say they would consider purchasing from brands that don’t use these tactics). Dads, on the other hand, are more likely to say they’ll either stick with or dump a brand (31% of them), no consideration needed.

Dad’s gonna do what dad is gonna to do. Let him. Mom is the consumer who needs to hear from your brand about why you’re taking the steps you are.

And since she’s the consumer most likely deciding what to buy and doing the purchasing, all the more reason to make her your priority.



Key Consumer Values: Thrift, Security, Safety, Control

Relevant Categories: Food, CPG, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, Retail

Application Areas: Consumer Insight, Customer Acquisition and Retention, Brand Strategy

Relevant blog posts: Consumers Turn to Digital Couponing to Combat Inflation

Additional reading for Gartner clients (Subscription required): Consumers Wield New Shopping Tools In Pursuit of Inflation-Busting Cost Savings, Consumers Begin to Blame Companies for Price Increases, Consumer Pulse: The CMO’s Guide to Current-Events-Related Sentiment and Expectations for Brands


Client? Set up some time with a Gartner expert here.


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