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Inside the Mind of a Powerful Consumer: Moms  

Understanding customer behavior is an important part of any business. By knowing and understanding how customers think, feel, and make decisions, businesses can determine how best to market their products and services to address their customers’ wants and needs, which is more important than ever in today’s competitive marketplace.

Seventy-six percent of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations and say it’s easier than ever to go elsewhere to find an experience that matches their expectations1. In order to stand out and win the hearts of minds of consumers, businesses must anticipate their customers’ wants and needs before they do.


Moms have been at the center of Zulily’s universe since the very beginning. Previously, moms expected good pricing. Now, the value equation has shifted, and moms’ expectations are much higher as they seek a shopping experience that provides service, convenience, availability, affordability, and fun, in a way that’s tailored to their specific wants, needs, and preferences.

To stay ahead of customers’ changing expectations, businesses need to, first and foremost, know them. We know our moms are super planners, which means they’re browsing for holiday gifts in July, or even sooner. As heads of households and primary decision makers for their families, moms often have the most responsibility for planning, but what drives early planning behaviors, and is there a reward for moms who plan ahead?

We knew we had to look deeper and examine how moms are emotionally, cognitively and interpersonally affected by planning to better understand their needs and expectations, in order to optimize their shopping experience. 

Read on to learn what our Brain of the Planner research told us about our customers and how you can use this information to sell to moms more effectively.


Understanding consumer behavior requires comprehensive research and analysis of consumer buying behaviors and the factors influencing them. In 2021, we commissioned a quantitative and qualitative study of more than 2,000 moms across the country that used artificial intelligence to analyze human emotions through facial and linguistic expressions. The goal was to understand what motivates planners and procrastinators, what emotions they experience because of planning and procrastinating, and if there are any benefits that can be attributed to either behavior.

Deeper insights from the study taught us there are tangible benefits to planning ahead, including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • More time for leisure and social time
  • Heathier relationships and more stability.

And now, as a result of ongoing inflation, more than 1 in 10 consumers are getting a head start on their holiday shopping, which means understanding and serving planning behaviors is more important than ever for businesses.


Recognizing inflation is top of mind among moms, we conducted further research into the brain of the planner to gain a deeper understanding of how inflation is impacting moms’ shopping habits and purchasing behaviors.

We learned that the majority (97%) of moms see the importance of planning ahead for purchases this year, likely because they’re feeling the “inflation pinch,” mostly on day-to-day essentials, like groceries and gas (72%), followed by discretionary spending on things like vacation, entertainment and dining out (25%).

In addition, moms have become more consistent with planning because of inflation, with 53% saying they used to be inconsistent in planning, until inflation began to climb. Their top three reasons for planning ahead include:

  1. Planning keeps moms on budget and in control of their spending.
  2. Planning causes moms less stress for themselves and their families.
  3. Planning reduces the chance of empty shelves, which means moms can get the products they want.

And, moms are banding together with loved ones to find ways to save, like sharing a deal they see online or at a store (26%), buying in bulk and sharing (23%), and sharing money-saving tips, tricks, and life hacks (21%).


With a better understanding of moms and how planning affects them – both psychically and psychologically – we’re able tailor our approach to better serve their specific wants, needs and preferences, which in turn helps the brands that sell with us reach their target customer. 

We recently evolved our business model from flash sales to an online superstore, integrating all of moms’ wants and needs into a single shopping destination, so they can make decisions quickly from the palm of their hands – their mobile device. We’ve taken the best of browse and discover and combined with a more directed search that’s integrated with high touch curation, both by machine learning and talented merchandising teams, which offers moms the ability to easily shop our site and find your brand on any given day.

By meeting moms when and where they want to engage with products and brands that are relevant to their specific life and lifestyle, we minimize friction, maximize time and savings, and lessen the stress of shopping, which means our customers shop often, they grow more loyal to your brand, and importantly, they share their experiences with their community.


The insights we gained from our customer research helps us make informed choices about our marketing strategy, so we can reach moms most efficiently with the right message, at the right time, and on the right channel. Every day, we’re helping them discover limited-time deals, we’re providing their favorite labels, and we’re anticipating their needs, so their experience remains relevant.

In addition, we turn this data into actionable insights to create a relationship of understanding and trust between your brand and millions of moms. We understand what they want, what they need, and how to communicate with them on their channel of choice. This relationship is valuable in attracting customers to your brand and increasing sales and loyalty.

It’s with this knowledge about our customers and their behaviors that enables Zulily to operate differently and serve our customers with their wants and needs. So, even amidst ongoing inflation, we’re creating a fun shopping experience that helps moms stay a step ahead of their “to-do” lists and devote more time to creating meaningful life experiences they desire.

Interested in selling on Zulily? Let’s grow your business together. Get started here.


1Salesforce, What Are Customer Expectations, and How Have They Changed?