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    5 Consumer Insights on How and Why Busy Parents Buy

    May 2, 2024
    8 minute read
    5 Consumer Insights on How and Why Busy Parents Buy

    Parents and guardians have very little free time — often not enough to rid the couch cushions of every rogue Cheerio, let alone enough to restock the pantry with them.

    Like most shoppers in Salsify’s latest “2024 Consumer Research” report, parents are also mobile, price-conscious, and often know exactly what they need (or want).

    To gain the loyalty of parental shoppers, brands and retailers must understand how and why they buy and what they want from the experience. Here are five consumer insights on parents' shopping habits, according to the latest research.

    How Shopping Parents Spend Their Time (and Money)

    Parents juggle shopping for themselves, their kids, and their homes. 
    And they’re not only juggling a lot, but they’re buying a lot. According to Forbes, moms alone represent a spending power of $2.4 trillion a year, accounting for 85% of household purchases.

    But what about now?

    Examining the buying habits of parents — and the hottest buying habits overall — can help shape your strategy for selling toys, clothing, baby products, groceries, and other commonly purchased household items.

    1. Parents Are Always On the Go, Mobile Media Matters

    Whether it's getting the kids out the door for school in the morning or juggling pick-ups and after-school activities, parents can’t always rely on peaceful browsing time behind a desk or laptop.

    And it wouldn’t make sense to market to them in just one way.

    According to the “2023 Parents as Consumers Report” from youth sports marketing company, TeamSnap, parents spend an average of three hours a day using mobile apps, an hour and a half listening to the radio, two hours surfing the internet for personal use, and an hour and a half streaming audio content and watching TV.

    Cover your bases by covering all bases: Invest in ads and retail media across airwaves, mobile sites, apps, in-store signage, and more. After all, it’s hard to find a parent who isn’t reachable on their mobile device at any given moment.

    According to Salsify research, 23% of shoppers have used a smartphone to buy a product while shopping at a physical store. Often, physical stores can serve as a “digital canvas” for additional offers and information. 

    2. Parents Value Value, Be Clear About Price

    Imagine, you're anxiously tapping your foot in the pediatrician’s waiting room — your kids may have their own sensory activity to focus on, but that might be short-lived with their attention spans.

    As sure as the latest sniffle or scrape will pass, you can be sure there’s a hospital bill coming soon too.

    According to Salsify consumer insights, 58% of online shoppers abandon a sale due to high prices — but not all hope is lost. Fifty-two percent of shoppers are loyal to a brand if they perceive a high value for money.

    And, according to parenting platform Motherly, 71% of moms plan to curtail spending in the coming year, and nearly 75% of back-to-school shoppers are stressed about paying for it, per LendingTree

    3. Parents Rely on Budgets and Schedules, Be a Friend

    Saving busy, stressed parents time and money at the same time? It sounds like magic, but it’s well within the power of brands. Be a friend with offers tailored to them.

    It’s important to highlight discounts on items parents need and send personalized offers. According to commerce media company Fluent, 79% of moms use sales, coupons, and deals while they shop, and 80% think loyalty programs are a great way for brands to reward customers.

    Saving (and shopping) on a schedule is possible, too, as Salsify research reports that 54% of shoppers have used a smartphone to learn more about a product while in a physical store, and 31% of shoppers are engaging in more price comparisons before buying due to the recent economy.  

    However, according to Retail Dive, while 85% of millennial parents use mobile devices when shopping in-store, dads are mainly looking for reviews while moms are looking for deals.

    4. Parents Often Shop One-Handed, Make Your Brand Omnichannel

    Not only do parents shop one-handed (or even no-handed), but it’s guaranteed that children tagging along divert their attention even further.

    Wherever a shopper can buy from your brand, you should serve them a consistent, engaging shopping experience — and nearly half (49%) of shoppers prefer a mix of online and in-store shopping, according to Salsify research.

    As noted by marketing agency The Shelf, more than 70% of millennial parents use their smartphones at every stage of the buying journey — discovery, consideration, decision, and even after — to help ensure they’re making the right choices for their family.

    This is where omnichannel is essential, offering seamless shopping options that boost convenience like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), and, better yet, curbside pickup or delivery, and fast shipping.

    Leveraging data, catering to the parent demographic, and bringing it across all your touch points can limit abandoned sales due to excessively side-tracked shoppers.

    Sending friendly cart reminders or other notifications may be all your brand needs to win a sale (and save the day) of a frazzled parent who forgot to pick up an essential. 

    5. Parents Shop for Others, Earn Loyalty With Social Proof

    The hottest sneakers for that first day of high school, a better backpack, a favorite snack, or the must-have toy of the season. These all sound like tempting offers for kids (and even many adults), but if parents can’t find what they want, they may not buy at all.

    Having search-engine-optimized (SEO) product detail pages (PDPs) is necessary to get found online, but how do you get parents to search for you in the first place? And what happens when you secure the click?

    The top two sources that influence mothers’ purchase journeys, according to Fluent, are health professionals (77%) and friends and family (75%). (Extra kudos to those with family and friends who are health professionals.)

    And, as noted by The Shelf, 78% of millennial parents research product features and reviews, particularly on their smartphones.

    This illustrates the enormous value awaiting your brand, if you so choose, to leverage reviews, user-generated content (UGC), and influencers. And this content shouldn’t just live on a passing post in the slippery ether that is social media — plug it right into your PDP.

    According to Salsify research, customer ratings and reviews (72%) and UGC, like customer images and videos (40%), are “extremely” or “very” important factors for shoppers who complete a purchase.

    Product experience management (PXM) helps create these as-real-as-real-life experiences on PDPs — right from the comfort of parents’ preferred digital touch points.

    A Price-Conscious and Omnichannel Brand? The Parent Trap

    Making parents’ lives easier may not be the priority of your brand’s strategy — but, with so many of the latest consumer insights overlapping with the needs and wants of moms, dads, guardians, and the like, it’s a bit of a no-brainer to implement mobile-friendly, omnichannel experiences and appealing prices for loyalty that’ll last. 



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    Written by: Yvonne Bertovich

    Yvonne Bertovich (she/her) is an editor and writer at Salsify, reporting from Knoxville, Tennessee. With a longtime passion for research, she enjoys flexing her perspective on ecommerce, trends in consumer behavior, and health and wellness.

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