- Child-targeted food and beverage is uniquely challenging because there is no distinct way to differentiate kids’ food from regular products, offering marketers an incentive to adapt products to meet kids’ demands or to go bigger and innovate more family-friendly offerings, according to a new report from Packaged Facts,
- The coveted millennial demographic now represents a big chunk of parents, while children make up 22.4% of the nation's population. All of these groups have several demands, and the study found that nine out of 10 parents buy new products their children ask for at least some of the time. More than half of parents — 55% — said their children's preferences and requests were important.
- Health and wellness takes center stage for parent consumers, with parents placing the most value on fresh products that are on sale. However, they said they also tend to seek products labeled all-natural, non-GMO, low or no sugar, and with no artificial ingredients.
Analysts have been trying to crack the millennial consumer code for years, and for good reason. According to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are expected to surpass baby boomers as the nation's largest living adult generation by next year.
For food marketers, millennials are especially tricky to figure out. They like a diverse range of cuisines, they’re not known for their brand loyalty, they’re more health-conscious and experimental, and they’re busy — even busier now that many of them are parents. Through parenthood, these general preferences are trickling down to a new generation, and manufacturers are wondering how to balance “healthy but busy” for decades to come.
As the lines between children’s and regular food products blur, manufacturers have new opportunities. Though packaging with bold colors, fun shapes and even cartoons were generally used to indicate kids’ products, companies are taking extra steps to stand out on increasingly crowded shelves.
Convenient, on-the-go packaging also works well for both busy adults and messy toddlers. The squeeze pouch market, for example, is expected to reach $1 billion within the next few years. Packaging is just one example of how this product crossover can be advantageous for manufacturers to appeal to multiple generations.
The biggest opportunity may be in the snacking space in general. A recent study by Amplify Snack Brands Inc. and the Center for Generational Kinetics found that nearly 69% of millennial moms said their kids understand that some snacks are healthier than others, while 55% said their kids are more likely to choose a better-for-you snack. Examples of these crossover opportunities include snacks with real fruit and vegetables, “healthy” cookies with ingredients such as ancient grains, yogurt, and the breakfast and protein bar category.
While some brands pursue a “one-healthy-snack-fits-the-whole-family” approach, others specifically target kids. Chobani has a kids' line, while Kind Bar and RXBar have also launched new lines geared targeting children. This summer, PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division will roll out a new child-focused, non-GMO-certified snack line called Imagine, featuring yogurt crisps and cheese stars.
While these snacks are designed to be kid-friendly, it's important to note that their parent brands are also popular with adults — and are likely to be enjoyed by them too. Though kids are notoriously picky, these products stand a good chance at success since their health-conscious millennial parents will control the household budget — and decision making — for many more years to come.