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The fears and anxieties mothers experience affect their brand choices, according to nationwide study

6October, 2015

Moms don’t like being judged. In fact she prefers to choose brands that can help reduce her risk of getting criticized. Or ostracized. The insights come from a study that looked at how mothers’ vulnerabilities affect brand choices and were presented today in New York City at the 2015 M2Moms®, a global learning event for brand marketers.

Courtney Miller and Inbal Pawlowski, both from Chicago agency AbelsonTaylor, presented results of a nationwide study that unlocked moms’ innermost fears about motherhood and how those fears impact their brand choices. While it would seem commonsense that all moms experience feelings of vulnerability, few realize these feelings are in constant flux. And even fewer still know that vulnerability can be a direct link to brand behavior.

AbelsonTaylor was able to condense moms’ seemingly endless feelings of vulnerability into six “need states,” the complex web of emotional, social, environmental, rational and personal triggers that lead individuals to choosing specific brands. They are:

  • Dreading the Unknown, which primarily centers around whether the choices moms make are the “right” ones
  • Cutting the Cord, whether it’s leaving children in someone else’s care or sending them off to school, moms experience a high degree of fear and anxiety
  • Losing the Reins, which sometimes leave moms feeling at a loss and judged
  • Trying Transitions, those time periods in motherhood that can throw life into chaos, like potty training or starting school
  • Stressing the Firsts raises moms fears and anxieties to significant heights
  • Feeling their Pain causes extreme angst when mothers feel they are not able to take their child’s pain away

The six need states surfaced when tested against product categories and led AbelsonTaylor’s team to confirm that they exist across any mom and baby category.

In the study, AbelsonTaylor asked 423 moms to honestly reveal what led them to choose specific brands in six product categories.

  • 30% said they chose specific infant formulas because of the anxieties and fears they felt from Stressing the “Firsts”
  • 48% reveal their brand of pain medicines was the result of the vulnerability, Feeling their Pain
  • 63% say their vitamin purchase can be linked to the anxieties that result from Losing the Reins
  • 62% indicate that their diaper choices were made under the chaos of Trying Transitions
  • 45% say that their choice of adhesive bandages were based on Dreading the Unknown


According to Miller and Pawlowski, each need state become a foundational starting point for identifying mothers’ decision-making process. And understanding which one triggers her anxieties and fears the most may help marketers predict which brands she’ll purchase—by as much as 57%.

Marketers can obtain a copy of the complete study by emailing AbelsonTaylor at and request The Mom Vulnerability Study.

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Pearson Brown: Director,
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Office: (312) 894-5437
Mobile: (310) 994-7057

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