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Study: Kid-Friendly Products Can Hook Long-Term Customers Early

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The way to develop long-term customers is to hook them early in life. Children under the age of 9 are a particularly influential demographic for food and beverage marketers, as lifelong dietary habits are established during this time period and brand loyalty begins, according to a new report by market researcher Packaged Facts.

Today’s kids are more marketing savvy and make more nutritionally conscious choices than any prior generation, and they have input on the foods and beverages their parents buy for them, the report noted. 

According to Packaged Facts, kid-friendly food is qualified as such when it has a taste kids love, nutrition kids need or entertainment kids seek. Taste alone, though, is not sufficient to qualify a product as being for kids.

With its research based on seven food and beverage categories in which marketers have a strong tendency to target kids — dairy products, snacks, frozen food, beverages, cereal, shelf-stable meals and produce — Packaged Facts projects sales for the $25-billion kids’ food and beverage market will grow to almost $30 billion by 2018.

Growth will be driven by continued economic recovery, strong new product development, and increased demand for health and wellness products suitable for growing kids.

Packaged Facts' research also found that:

  • Marketing strategies must go beyond simple kid-appeal and focus on gaining parent approval. Although targeting the child demographic is largely accomplished through formulation, packaging and marketing, kids are the end user and not necessarily the decision maker when it comes to product purchase.
  • Obtaining parent approval is most often achieved through healthy brand positioning and socially responsible efforts. Brands that have a strong alignment with health are in a good position to succeed in appealing to the parent demographic.
  • Kids’ food is more about marketing claims such as natural, organic, gluten-free and no preservatives/additives, and less about diet monikers like fat, calories and sodium.
  • Transforming “healthy” offerings into fun and interactive products creates more appeal among younger demographics while still catering to parents’ desires for good nutrition.
  • Many marketers find ways to associate themselves with health, even if their products may not have a great nutritional profile. Although the product itself may deter parents away, by promoting child exercise and health/wellness programs, the marketer may reflect positively on the product by instilling ideas of a balanced lifestyle while providing kids with the products they want. 

For more information on The Kids Food and Beverage Market in the U.S., 7th Edition report, click here.

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