By some measures, mothers control 85% of household buying power. From ordering the weekly shop, to booking next year’s summer holiday, family purchases small and large are often made – or, if not, at least influenced or approved – by mothers.


As consumers, mothers tend to be highly engaged in the buyer journey. They actively research, compare, and discuss products en route to purchase – and also beyond, where they can become influential brand advocates among their networks.


That’s why understanding mothers’ nuanced needs around which products they want to buy – and equally, which they would like to receive as gifts – is paramount for brands who want to connect with them in the biggest trading season of them all.


In The Motherhood Report, we surveyed 500 UK and US new and expectant mothers to shine a light on their attitudes, media consumption, and product preferences. Among its other wide-ranging findings, here’s what the study illuminates about prenatal and postnatal purchasing behaviour.


What do (and don’t) mothers want to buy?

  • Nearly half of our surveyed new and expectant mothers recently invested in new baby clothes, highlighting their focus on dressing their little ones stylishly from day one.


  • Around 40% spent money on baby feeding products, bottles, and beakers, indicating their dedication to ensuring their baby’s nutrition.


  • 36% recently shopped for baby bath time products, emphasising the importance of establishing a soothing bathing routine.


  • Only 17% of expectant mothers recently shopped for entertainment items, magazines, and books, suggesting that while self-care is important, their priorities lie in preparing for the baby’s arrival.


  • A mere 18% made self-care-oriented purchases such as spa treatments and beauty products. This underscores the tendency of expectant mothers to prioritise practical baby-related items when shopping for themselves.

What do mothers want to receive as a gift?

  • Baby gifts

Understanding what mothers prefer to receive as gifts is vital for marketers looking to tap into this market segment. Our survey reveals that gifts for babies are highly appreciated at every stage of the motherhood journey. The top choices include toys, books, and accessories, which hold a special place in the hearts of expectant and new mothers in both the UK and the US. Baby clothes also rank high on their wish list.

Key Insight: Marketers should consider promoting baby clothes, toys, books, and accessories as ideal gift choices, recognising their popularity over more practical items.


  • Self-care for mothers

An interesting finding is that self-care gifts for mothers, such as spa treatments and beauty products, are nearly as cherished as baby-related gifts. Over half of expectant and new mothers expressed their desire to receive these gifts. Entertainment items like cinema and theatre tickets, magazines, and books follow, with new clothes and accessories for mothers ranking as the least favoured category.

Key Insight: Marketers can tap into this desire for self-care by promoting spa treatments and wellbeing-oriented gifts, positioning them as a thoughtful and appreciated option, following closely behind toys and baby clothes.


  • Practical presents

Regional variations matter when it comes to practical gift items. In the UK, functional items like baby soothing products, bottles, beakers, feeding products, and big-ticket items such as prams and car seats are less preferred by both pregnant and new mothers, with only 40% or less wanting these as gifts.

Key Insight: For marketers targeting UK consumers, it’s essential to recognise the lower preference for functional baby items. In contrast, the US market may be more receptive to such gifts, possibly due to the influence of baby shower culture.


Key takeaways for brands

  • Recognise the popularity of baby-related gifts and consider promoting baby clothes, toys, books, and accessories as ideal choices for gift campaigns.


  • Emphasise the significance of self-care by offering spa treatments and wellbeing-oriented gifts as thoughtful options for mothers.


  • Tailor marketing strategies based on regional differences, with functional baby items being more well-received in the US compared to the UK.


  • Align product offerings with the purchasing habits of mothers-to-be, focusing on baby clothes, feeding products, and bath time items.


Download The Motherhood Report to explore new and expectant mothers’ attitudes, needs, hopes and fears.