Zulily Releases Findings on Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Planning from First-of-its-Kind Study

SEATTLE, Aug. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Online retailer Zulily® today released findings from a first-of-its kind pilot study, conducted by third-party researcher ENGINE, that used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze human emotions through facial and linguistic expressions. Titled “Brain of the Planner“, the study shows exactly what motivates moms to plan, what they experience as a result and how others can learn positive behaviors that enable them to experience similar benefits.


Moms of children up to 17 years of age were interviewed and categorized as either “Planners,” defined as those who form in advance an organized method for action, or “Procrastinators,” defined as those who intentionally put something off. Categorizations were based on how frequently they said they exhibit procrastination-like tendencies (for example, how often they decide to do tomorrow something they intended to do today).

The report indicates that planning and procrastination are both means of coping with anxiety, but planning behaviors are more effective at reducing anxiety, as Planners experience more feelings of happiness, less stress and better health overall. Planners also report feeling more confident and financially secure and have stronger family relationships. Nevertheless, Procrastinators can find ways to plan effectively and experience these same outcomes with the right motivators and strategies in place.

“We know our customers – millions of moms – are super planners, and plan to find great deals because they know the value of trade-offs. Four times as many moms choose savings over speed, because the more she saves, the more meaningful life experiences she can create,” said Olly Downs, vice president of MarTech, data and machine learning at Zulily. “Moms come to Zulily expecting a personalized shopping experience and Zulily delivers on that expectation using a suite of technology solutions every day to deepen personalization to the point where no two experiences are the same. We’re excited to work with ENGINE and their research partners Relative Insight and iMotions to seek deeper understanding of human language and behaviors that impact how, why and when consumers shop.”

The Study

ENGINE conducted a literature review of pre-existing research and carried out the study. Beginning with a survey of more than 2,000 moms from across the country, the goal was to understand what motivates Planners and Procrastinators, what emotions they experience as a result of planning and procrastinating, and if there are any benefits that can be attributed to either behavior.

Following the survey, 100 Planners and 100 Procrastinators elected into a “Digital Hive” – an online qualitative methodology that asked participants to engage in a variety of storytelling and video- and photo-based tasks. ENGINE worked with Relative Insight for linguistic coding of 515,548 participant-generated words in the Hive, and iMotions for facial coding of Hive member-submitted webcam videos. Micro-expressions were analyzed to uncover feelings of joy, anger, surprise, fear, sadness, disgust, and contempt, and compared with self-reported emotions. 

Key Findings

The top benefits of planning, as revealed by the research, include:

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Planners and Procrastinators both report their behaviors as a way of managing stress, but Planner moms reported less anxiety and showed more control over their emotions during deadline-driven scenarios, whereas Procrastinators displayed anxiety through every stage.


    Planners are also more likely to approach life responsibilities early, like filing taxes, paying bills and buying gifts for their children. As a result, Planner moms reported feeling less stressed about these activities.
    • Seventy-one percent of Planners say they shop for the holidays as early as possible, compared to 45% of Procrastinators.
    • Thirty-seven percent of Planners said they feel stress related to this task, while nearly 60% of Procrastinators said the same.

While there is no right or wrong way to tackle life responsibilities, advanced planning through small behavioral changes could yield significant benefits.

  • More Time for Leisure and Socializing: The ability to plan ahead leads to more headspace for pleasurable pursuits and personal passions.
    • More than half (52%) of Planners report having time for a social life and 44% report having enough time for themselves, compared with 39% and 31% of Procrastinators who said the same, respectively.

Linguistic coding revealed that Planners more often used examples related to joy and passions (arts and crafts, travel, cooking, shopping, sports, music and family), while Procrastinators talked about distractions (eating out, socializing, watching movies) and life stresses (work, school, deadlines, money). Procrastinators, however, are capable of seeing the possible solutions by listing ways to be better organized across each stress factor.

  • Healthier Relationships and More Stability: Planners have more secure relationships with their families, finances and others.
    • Seventy-nine percent of Planners said their family relationships are strong, whereas 65% of Procrastinators said the same.
    • Nearly half (49%) of Planners said they are financially secure, whereas just one-third (33%) of Procrastinators said the same.
    • Planners, versus Procrastinators, are also more likely to feel respected by their friends (93% versus 81%), colleagues (92% versus 78%), kids (91% versus 81%) and significant others (85% versus 74%).

Nevertheless, having a written action plan helps motivate Procrastinators to get things done and make changes that positively impact the various types of relationships that come throughout life.

“It’s easy to take planning behaviors for granted. Often, it’s so ingrained within us to plan or procrastinate that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. The Brain of the Planner study shows that there is more that can motivate us to practice planning and it can impact more than just how we feel on the inside – it can have a real impact on the way we lead our lives,” said Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, a psychologist and family relationships expert who worked with ENGINE on the research.

To help more moms experience the benefits of planning, Zulily is sharing 10 Ways to Train Your Brain with tips to learn how to better plan – even for the most steadfast Procrastinators.

The online retailer is also giving Planner moms a way to prep for the holidays extra early. Zulily’s new holiday shop – Santa’s Workshop – features everything moms need for the holiday season, with early deals on gifts, holiday décor, toys and more. Santa’s Workshop is live now through December 15, 2021.

To download the full “Brain of the Planner” report, visit

About Zulily® 

Online retailer Zulily helps moms around the world discover incredible deals and fresh style for themselves, their families and their homes. Zulily launches thousands of products at amazing values each day, curating personalized shopping experiences that include apparel and footwear for the whole family, toys, home décor, and so much more. Zulily’s app uses compelling video and imagery to bring more than 15,000 big name brands and boutique finds to life on mobile.  

Zulily is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, with locations in Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and China.  With expertise in technology, merchandising, creative production, logistics, marketing, customer service, and more, Zulily team members work together to deliver a fun and engaging shopping experience that sparks discovery, connection and entertainment. Zulily has passed millions in savings onto its customers since its first sale in 2010. For more information visit 

Zulily, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qurate Retail, Inc. (NASDAQ: QRTEA, QRTEB, QRTEP), which includes QVC®, HSN®, Zulily and the Cornerstone brands (collectively, “Qurate Retail GroupSM“), as well as other minority interests and green energy investments. Qurate Retail Group believes in a Third Way to Shop® – beyond transactional ecommerce or traditional brick-and-mortar stores. In addition to being a world leader in video commerce, Qurate Retail Group is among the top ecommerce retailers in North America (according to Digital Commerce 360) and is a leader in mobile commerce and social commerce. For more information, visit, or follow @QurateRetailGrp on FacebookInstagram or Twitter, or follow Qurate Retail Group on YouTube or LinkedIn. 

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