Special Walmart Moms Project With Parade Magazine
We've been studying Walmart Moms since 2009 and have found them to be a proven swing voting bloc. They voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and voted decidedly Republican in 2010. But, even more interesting than moms' swing political views are their own personal stories. How have Walmart Moms adjusted to the personal or economic challenges they've faced? What in their lives do they regret? Or hope for? What do they expect for their children? Or for America?
Our two firms worked exclusively with Parade Magazine, the most widely read publication in America, to conduct our most recent study of Walmart Moms, being published this Sunday, May 11 (Mother's Day). Details available on the Parade Magazine website.
We temporarily put aside our usual questions about 2016 handicapping or Congressional partisan bickering; instead, we wanted to hear moms talk about themselves — not about Washington. Not only did we conduct focus groups in Charlotte and St. Louis, be we conducted a national poll of Walmart Moms.
This memo highlights some of the key findings from our Mother's Day survey and focus groups sponsored by both Parade Magazine and Walmart. For more, including touching interviews with some of the moms we studied, please visit the Parade Magazine website.
Focus Group Video
Use the links below to view video of the focus groups.
For desktop or laptop:
Charlotte & St. Louis
To download the Interview Schedule please click here.
Moms don't judge others, but feel judged.
Demonstrating their openness to each family's individual needs, a significant majority of moms (56%) say that "whatever works best for the family" is the "ideal" child care arrangement. Even so, a significant number of Walmart Moms (45%) say they "feel judged" because of the decisions they've made about work and child care (with similar results among both working moms and stay-at-home moms).
The cost of child care is a half-month's rent.
The average monthly child-care cost for these Walmart Moms is $444, about half of the average rent these moms pay ($874 for renters) and nearly 40% of their mortgage payment ($1,188 for homeowners).
St. Louis Mom: "For us, financially, it would make absolutely no sense for me to work, because paying for daycare, for even when we just had the three kids, but just paying for daycare for my oldest, finding somebody to watch him every day and take care of him, it would cost more than I would make."
Today's moms have a lot on their plates.
Moms are in charge. A plurality (26%) call themselves the "chief executive officer." Even married moms bear the burden of most household (68%) and parenting (56%) tasks. Most moms enforce consistent routines; about half (47%) help their kids with their homework every night, and most (78%) eat dinner with their kids nearly every weeknight.
St. Louis Mom: "I have been blessed that I'm pretty detail-oriented. I can multitask. I can encourage and help others to be part of something."
Financial worries dominate.
Moms are still feeling the pressure of the recession. Over half of moms say they are either "living on the financial edge" (17%) or "making it, but worried about what the next day may bring" (41%). Half (55%) say the financial security of their family is their top concern, and a plurality (35%) say not having enough money to meet their kids' needs is the biggest stressor they face. Almost a third (30%) of working moms hold at least two jobs.
St. Louis Mom: "My husband will come home and say, ‘Hey, I want to get this. Do you think it's okay?' And my nine year old is like, ‘it's your money, Dad – you're the one who works.' I tell him ‘no, Dad's money is my money and he needs to ask me.'"
Charlotte Mom: "I work for a staffing company, I teach college courses, we pet sit and then I have a couple of direct sales businesses I'm involved in. So, I work both inside and outside the home."
And in this sandwich generation, many are helping family members financially.
Financial pressures aside, many moms are helping other relatives. More Walmart Moms are giving their parents or grown children money (50%) than are receiving money from relatives (30%). About a fifth (22%) live with parents or in-laws, and a similar number (19%) have grown children living at home. Interestingly, a third (31%) say a relative shares responsibility for taking care of their children.
St. Louis Mom: "My mom is the worker bee. She takes care of the house. She cleans, cooks, makes sure we have our clothes are pressed. She has to iron everything. I supply all the money."
But, kids still come first.
Over half (56%) say saving for college is a higher priority than saving for their own retirement, even if more currently have a retirement fund (47%) than a college fund (27%).
Moms are more optimistic about their own future than their children's.
Moms handle financial pressures by staying positive. Walmart moms are more optimistic about their own family's personal economy (60% optimistic) than about the country as a whole (43%). And, moms feel more optimistic that they will achieve the American Dream (65%) than their children will (43% say their children will have a more difficult time).
Charlotte Mom: "I think they'll have a lot tougher decisions to make. Growing up, my mom was very strict with me… And there weren't a lot of outside things. Today, there's a lot of influences."
Homeownership and a college degree are bedrocks of the American Dream.
Homeownership is still a major vehicle to achieving the American Dream according to most (81%) of Walmart Moms. Even more moms (87%) say it's important for their kids to attend a four-year college, with just as many (81%) saying it is within reach for them.
Moms' dreams for their children center on finances.
A majority of moms (59%) dream their children will become self-sufficient or have financial security. Fewer wish their children would make "better choices" than they made or "be in a happy relationship."
Charlotte Mom: "I just worry about their happiness. I mean, there's so much thrown at them that we didn't have when we were growing up… It's just one issue after another… You just hope that they come away from it strong and able to go on and get everything that they need to."
Moms have regrets, particularly around finances.
If they could do things differently, almost three-fourths (71%) of moms say they would have "learned more about money management." A majority (61%) would also have earned a higher degree in school or "paid more attention to my health" (63%). Fewer — but still sizeable numbers — would have chosen a different spouse (33%), had more (28%) children, or married later (27%).
St. Louis Mom: "I never expected to be a stay-at-home mom, never in a million years…I mean, even when I quit working seven years ago, it was temporary. And here I am seven years later still. And I'm like, I don't want to go back to work. I can't imagine leaving my kids now. And I did not expect to have four kids. I did not expect to still be living in St. Louis. I mean, it's completely different. I expected to have a job, a full-time job, because my mom was always the breadwinner, had a full-time job. That's kind of how I thought it would be…"
Being a mom is tougher, but Walmart Moms are confident.
Most moms (81%) say it's harder to be a mom today than when they were growing up. But, almost as many (78%) say they are either as good (40%) or even better (38%) of a mom than their own mother.
Charlotte Mom: "I think our parents' lives were much simpler than ours are today. They just followed the format, and we're trying to follow the format with all the other stuff thrown in, you know. It's a different challenge."
And, they feel appreciated by their families.
Perhaps some of the best news from the survey: most (77%) moms feel appreciated by their families at least half the time.
Moms find politicians not very responsive.
One constant in every past Walmart Moms research project — moms feel politicians aren't fighting for moms like them. In this survey, half (56%) feel elected officials are "unresponsive" to the issues concerning their families. And, a plurality (41%) say the country would be better off with more women in office.
Charlotte Mom: "I think the politicians themselves are more worried about reelected than about fixing things."
Charlotte Mom: "They all like to tend to blame each other for everything else instead of taking care of the issues."
Public Opinion Strategies and Purple Strategies conducted an N=1,000 national survey among Walmart Moms*, sponsored by Parade Magazine and Walmart. The survey was conducted online, March 27-31, 2014. To conduct the online survey, we used an online research panel to find qualified respondents. Panelists were recruited by invitation only in order to have a more normalized survey and target qualified women. In the questionnaire, we further screened the women to confirm all respondents meet our definition of "Walmart Mom". Survey quotas were also established to ensure a representative sample of Walmart Moms based on age and geographic location.
The questionnaire for the national online survey was designed from the findings of two previous focus groups conducted on February 25-26, 2014 in Charlotte, NC and St. Louis, MO, respectively. Each group consisted of ten Walmart Moms.
*Walmart Moms are defined as women voters with children age 18 or younger living at home and who shop at Walmart at least once a month.