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The Moms’ Mindset Under COVID

The Moms’ mindset under COVID

Alan Todd, Director of Research at All Told has a strong conviction that the way to a customer’s heart is a deep understanding of, and empathy with, their needs, beliefs and feelings and that in any market it is the understanding of human cognition that lies at the heart of being able to influence customer behaviour.

He gives us a bit more insight into how the past two years of living under COVID-19 have affected the mindset of the South African mom community.



COVID has had a massive impact on the lives of many South African mothers, especially those poor souls living below the poverty line. Moms living on the national minimum monthly wage (R3, 643.92) face a food budget shortfall after paying for transport and electricity. Their families are going hungry.

Even for economically active South African mothers (those with a monthly household income of more than R7, 600.00), the economic outlook is gloomy.  As a result, there are strong signs of a frugal mindset amongst mothers, many of whom are spending less across all expense categories, wherever possible. Home maintenance and kids’ clothing spends are the only two categories that buck their ‘spending less’ trend.

A small, fortunate 11% of mothers are living in households earning more now than before the pandemic – they are financially unaffected, but pandemic has impacted their lives in other ways.

  • Altered finance mindsets

60% of mothers are finding themselves having to spend more time planning their finances, and 46% are having to dip into their savings and investments. A whopping 78% are contemplating side-hustles to increase household income.

  • The struggle to make ends meet

As jugglers of the household budget, mothers bear the stress of finding ways to make ends meet. 37% of them are earning less than before COVID, and 45% are having to spend less on household purchases to make ends meet.

Many are draining their savings trying to stay afloat, and 16% have lost their jobs or are having to work from home as a result of the lockdown restrictions (interestingly, of those working from home, 79% of them are quite happy with this). Others have had to quit their jobs because of childcare gaps caused by the pandemic.

  • The struggle to raise children

In addition, in most nuclear families, mothers are the child caregivers and carry the stress and burden of managing their education, providing them with nourishment, clothing, healthy socialisation and safety. Only 52% feel that the education system is doing a good job for their children post COVID.

For short of time, cash-strapped mothers, the pandemic has greatly increased the caregiver burden, regardless of their financial predicament.

  • Lessons learnt

In the face of this gloomy backdrop, mothers’ lives have changed through no choice of their own. They have learnt lessons from the pandemic which have changed their behaviours. There are some positive consequences of these behavioural changes, though. Mothers now have a better understanding of the necessity of ‘saving for a rainy day’, avoiding debt, and the need to spend less on non-essentials.



86% of mothers in South Africa struggle with the fear that COVID might cause the death of a loved one in the family and 71% fear their own personal death from COVID. Moms are at the forefront of family safety and 93% are rigorous about taking various precautionary measures against COVID infection – wearing a mask and avoiding crowded places top the list. However, 20% of South African moms are still hesitant about COVID vaccinations.

  • Social interaction for leisure at an all-time low

While dining out, socialising and leisure still top mom’s lists for how to spend surplus income, COVID has severely curbed these types of activities and 59% of mothers are doing it less often than they were in 2019.

91% socialise less often with their friends, and 61% are socialising less often with family as well. As many as 70% are now spending more of their leisure time at home. The impact of this massive disruption to human leisure interaction is yet to be felt, but it is perhaps no coincidence that 58% of mothers are feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious about life.

  • Cooking for fun is not the same as having to cook

Spending more leisure time at home means that 49% of mothers are cooking more often and 37% are baking more often. For some, this is a grudge, but for others, it is a joy.

  • Altered shopping mindset

Leisure shopping activities have also been significantly curtailed. Shopping trips frequency has decreased from 4 shopping trips per week to 3.3 per week. Mission shopping has become the norm with 64% shopping only for the things on their list and getting the job over and done with as quickly as possible. 67% of mothers are now avoiding stores with too many customers and only 4% meet up with friends to go shopping.

The fun element of shopping has all but disappeared. It has been replaced by fear.

  • Altered leisure travel mindset

61% are nervous about flying and 65% are not planning a holiday this year. Home is both safer and cheaper. The fun element of leisure travel has gone too.



This story is ongoing. One way or another, things will be different by this time next year. COVID has not run its course yet.

The tough financial predicament that many mothers find themselves in is unlikely to change much for the near future in South Africa and the frugality behaviours driven by the pandemic will probably persist for some time to come.

Dispelling fears around contracting COVID will be the first step to reversing the prevailing frugality mindset, so for marketer’s who are targeting this significant market, building confidence is the first step towards recovering pre-COVID spends. Marketers who are not yet leveraging online, contactless purchasing functionalities should seriously reconsider; moms are more willing to purchase online in what they consider to be a safer environment.  They are time-strapped and looking for convenience without having to travel too far.

Whatever marketing methodology you put into play, what stands out is that, unless your product is perceived as offering value-for-money by the ever more frugal mom-community under current circumstances, you are quite simply, wasting your efforts.


by Alan Todd, Director of Research at All Told (Professional market researchers )

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