For U.S. retail food and beverage marketers, children aren’t just the future, they are very much the present and cannot be ignored. Parents may earn the money to make necessary household purchases, but more often than not when it comes to grocery shopping, parents acquiesce to the demands and preferences of their children.
Kids age six and older are a particularly important demographic to marketers, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. Lifelong dietary habits are established during this time period and brand loyalty begins. This suggests industry players should focus on product development designed to capture younger kids (and gain allegiance from parents) earlier to keep them involved with the brand throughout childhood and beyond.
“It’s the circle of retail life. Child demands product, parent learns about product through child, household begins using product, child ideally grows up to encourage his or her own household to use said product, at least until their own kids start making requests,” says David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.
Developing products that effectively appeal to children is more difficult than it sounds. The kids’ food and beverage market is particularly challenging because industry players have to market to both the end user (the child) and the purchaser (the parent). When it comes to appealing to parents, it’s all about health and nutrition.
According to the “Shopping for Health 2016” report from the Food Marketing Institute and Rodale, a product’s healthfulness for children influences 91 percent of parents’ food and beverage purchases. Taste, however, reigns and influences 95 percent of purchase decisions.
Sprout Foods Inc., the manufacturer of the first organic baby food in a pouch, introduces Sprout Organic Smash, a pureed squeezable pouch snack for kids’ lunch boxes. The product comes in a four-pack box of 3.2-oz. easy-serve pouches and comes in two blends, each offering two flavors. The Fruit & Super Grain blend, which includes buckwheat, oats and quinoa, comes in Amazin’ Apple Raisin and Tropical Twist. The Fruit & Veggie blend comes in Berry Blast and Very Banana Berry.
“Fizz for kidz” is the tagline of new Tickle Water, a line of naturally flavored, unsweetened sparkling waters for children developed by a New York City mom, whose young son liked how her sparkling water tickled his tummy. The zero-calorie drinks come in four flavors: Cola, Green Apple, Sparkling Water and Watermelon. Labels list two simple ingredients: carbonated water and natural flavors. The drinks come in 8-oz. cans that fit little hands. Parents can purchase the cans in four- and 12-packs.
General Mills Inc.’s Annie’s Homegrown organic brand continues to grow and expand into new categories, including baking mixes, breakfast cereal, chewy granola bars, frozen sandwiches, pancake/waffle mix, popcorn and refrigerated dough. The frozen sandwiches include Pea B&J Pockets, which are stuffed crustless sandwiches made of golden pea butter (not peanut butter) and jelly (grape or strawberry). The refrigerated dough line includes cinnamon rolls, crescent rolls and flaky biscuits.