A long-acknowledged reality is that almost any American home with a child present is also likely a household in which a child wields substantial influence over the retail products purchased. Younger children under age nine are a particularly influential demographic for marketers involved in the $639 billion U.S. food and beverage market as life-long dietary habits are established during this period and brand loyalty begins. Food and beverage products manufactured and marketed specifically for children account for 4 percent of overall industry sales with a value of $23 billion, according to The Kids Food and Beverage Market in the U.S., 7th Edition, a report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.
“Today’s kids are more marketing savvy and nutritionally conscious than any previous generation. They have input on the foods and beverages that their parents buy for them. And as any good marketer knows, the way to develop long-term customers is to hook them early in life,” says Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle.
Yet as influential as children are, marketers must also put forth creative effort in reaching another important segment driving today’s kids food and beverage market: Millennial Moms. Like generations before them, Millennial Moms’ consumer behaviors are greatly influenced by their own mothers and the parenting style they experienced growing up. The Millennial Mom today was raised by the Boomer mom of yesterday. This means that the affluence that was garnered by the Boomers was lavished on their Millennial kids. The Boomer parenting style focused on building confidence, which brought about the notion that every child deserves to be heralded for participation rather than winning. As a result, the Millennial generation continues to seek out the spotlight and revel in attention. This is why social media has become such an integral component to their lives—with constant recognition by friends and instant gratification at their fingertips.
Keeping up with Millennials as early adopters of new technology and social media is a significant challenge for marketers. Technology impacts almost everything a Millennial Mom does and buys for herself and her family—from online purchasing, checking her Facebook page, or posting a photo and location on Instagram. Millennials embrace new social media quickly, as seen by the explosive growth of Pinterest and Instagram. This means that it’s essential for makers and marketers of kids’ food and beverage products to have a presence in these types of social media in order to have the best opportunity to reach this important demographic. However, having a presence in social media isn’t enough—it’s essential to engage Millennial Moms with relevant dialogue to keep them loyal and spreading the word to their social circle. To increase relevancy, marketers should consider keeping communications short and easy to understand; offer time-saving tips and products that “do good” for the family; and underscore these efforts by being authentic in both brand and product positioning.