Mothers Pass on Shopping Habits and Brand Preferences to Their Daughters

Marketing to Women: Addressing Women and Women's Sensibilities, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Mothers Pass on Shopping Habits and Brand Preferences to Their Daughters


Daughters' brand preferences are significantly influenced by the brand preferences of their mothers, though the degree of influence varies by brand and product category, according to a study by marketing researchers at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Florida.

Mothers and college-age daughters were surveyed separately about their brand preferences for goods commonly bought at the grocery store, including food items and packaged goods. To determine awareness of brands as well as preference, study participants were asked both about brands they consider buying and brands they generally purchase. Mothers and daughters were also asked to recall each others' preferred brands.

Daughters correctly identify mothers' preferred brands 69% of the time. Daughters were asked to choose one brand and the results were measured against the one to three brands their mothers consider most seriously when buying. In 36% of families studied (across all product categories measured), mothers and daughters buy the same brands--far more than would be accounted for by chance matches.

The tendency of mothers and daughters to choose the same brands is statistically significant in 23 out of 24 product categories studied. The strongest correlations between mothers' and daughters' brand preferences are in soup, ketchup, facial tissue, and peanut butter. Overall, the correlation between daughters' and mothers' brand preferences is 63% higher than a chance correlation.

When buying soap, frozen juice, coffee, baked beans, lotion, dish detergent, household cleaners, and laundry detergent, mothers and daughters choose the same brands more than twice as often as would be expected by chance.

Brands with a high rate of correlation between mothers' and daughters' preferences are shown below.

BRANDS WITH GREATEST LOYALTY AMONG MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS

(Mother-daughter pairs as % of women who prefer the brand)


Newman's Own spaghetti sauce  86%
Campbell's soup               84%
Heinz ketchup                 80%
Peter Pan peanut butter       67%
Kleenex facial tissues        67%
Mueller pasta                 63%
Dawn dish detergent           60%
Crest toothpaste              60%

Source: Elizabeth Moore, University of Notre Dame

Qualitative research indicates that daughters learn not only brand preferences, but also the tendency to buy brand-name versus private label or generic products (or the reverse). They also pick up on shopping styles, such as enjoyment or dislike of shopping and tendency to read nutrition labels. Many daughters describe what they learned from their parents as "rules" for shopping and food preparation, such as packing the same foods in their lunches that their mothers packed for them, or preparing certain meals using the same combinations of ingredients their moms used.

There is also evidence of daughters introducing their mothers to new products, or new twists on familiar ones; for example, one Downy user introduced her mom (also a Downy user) to the new Downy ball fabric softener dispenser. …

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