COVID and Lockdown Have Changed What Food Products Parents Buy for their Kids

kids food products

Shifting cultural attitudes and fluctuating economic factors have always routinely affected regular consumer buying behaviour. However, now almost two years into the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re still surprised every day by the wide and far-reaching impacts COVID-19 (and all of the associated movement-restrictive baggage that comes with it) is having on every day life.

At ParentsandBrands, we’ve been researching how parents’ purchasing habits have changed since the onset of the pandemic across different sectors. Last time we looked at the pain points parents experience when buying clothes for the family online. This week, we’re delving into the factors that have changed for parents when it comes to buying food products for their kids.

We conducted a study consisting of an online survey as well as a more in-depth focus group within our community of engaged parents to gather insights about their kids’ food product purchasing habits. We wanted to understand what motivates them to buy certain products, how packaging affects their decisions, as well as how their habits have changed since the pandemic began in March 2020.

In 2021, what do parents care most about when buying snacks and kids’ food products for their children? We uncovered some valuable trends and insights food businesses should take note of looking into 2022.

kids food products

Would you like tailored insights for your brand? Use our trusted panels of engaged parents and our dedicated private platform to gather critical insights to help your decision making and activate customers. Contact us now to find how we can help

Key Trends for Parents Buying Kids Food Products

We uncovered these insights by asking parents about their thoughts in a few key areas including product content, product packaging, product advertising/marketing and wider lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic.

1. COVID has impacted parents buying food products for their kids

64% of parents said they had bought different food products like new snacks for their child during the pandemic owing to the fact that they are now at home a lot more than they used to be.

Parents are also making active efforts to make healthier food purchases for their kids. When asked about buying kids’ snacks and confectionary, 64% of parents told us they might consider or have actively been buying more healthy confectionery or snack products for their children.

“What we buy has changed as a result of being at home more, trying to cut costs (food bills are already higher with more time spent at home) and because we got used to baking regularly e.g. making snacks, lunchbox bakes and weekend treats. What we buy now are the real family favourites that no one is prepared to sacrifice!”

2. Factors that positively influence parents to try new kids’ food products

Parents told us that TV ads and social media ads (including influencers!) are not key drivers for trying new kids’ products, whereas offers, free samples and family & friend recommendations still hold sway. In fact, 65% of parents told us they will try a new kids’ food product if there’s an offer, and 63% said they’ll give something a go if it’s recommended by a friend or family member.

Packaging can also have a strong impact on purchasing something new for parents. 74% of those surveyed said that the package indicating it was a ‘healthy’ product motivated them to buy a new product.

“For me it’s convenience, cost and nutritional value. Love a snack pack that I can take out on the go with us but want them to eat something that’s going to fuel them the right way. Also don’t want to pay a fortune for it, don’t mind a little more for the convenience.”

3. Key ingredients parents look for in kids’ food products

The nutritional profile of kids’ products tends to be the deciding factor for parents with a huge 79% of parents saying that Low Sugar or Low Salt is the number one influence on kids’ product purchases. This finding held true even between branded & unbranded varieties. A growing proportion of parents also mentioned that they look for kids’ products that feature or are made from natural ingredients.

“I want food that is good for my children. I want low salt and low sugar. I don’t want it just changed for sweeteners which are worse than real sugar. I also want to give them the odd treat here and there. Good deals and special offers on foods in the supermarket will influence my decision too.”

kids' food products

How to use these insights to make your kids’ food product stand out to parents:

  • Make sure the health properties of your kids’ product are clearly communicated on the packaging. Consider getting a health claim to support the communication.
  • Seek to reduce the sugar content of your kids’ product and/or replace it with natural sugars and make sure you highlight these aspects on the packaging.
  • Consider how you can innovate on your current product or create a new product to appeal to the consumer appetite for novelty, using taste testing and consumer insights to validate product development.
  • Focus your marketing resources on creating offers and free samples rather than on costly influencer marketing campaigns. Understanding family life changes and key drivers by talking to consumers is vital to product and market success.

RECOMMENDED READING: Parents Want Simpler Nutritional Labels and Sustainable Packaging for Their Food Purchases

Find out how to attract parents to your brand

Looking for ways to connect your brand or product with Irish parents? Contact us directly to find out how ParentsandBrands can help you with valuable in-depth parent-specific insights concentrated on your business/product sector.

Would you like business-transforming insights from parents for your business? Use our tailored panels of engaged parents and our dedicated private platform to gather critical insights to help influence consumers to deliver long term profitability. Contact us now to find how we can help.

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