Kids food and beverage: It’s a juggling act

Kids food and beverage: It’s a juggling act

The dynamics of the kids’ food business have changed dramatically in recent years.  In a nutshell, typical macaroni and cheese isn’t going to cut it when a kid can have noodles shaped like their favorite cartoon character.  Or, what fun is using a spoon to eat yogurt or applesauce when you can squeeze it?  Taste is no longer the only qualification needed to be a kid-friendly food.  In fact, it’s become quite a juggling act for any company or brand that tries to break into this growing market.

Shifts in parenting styles could be one instigator prompting change in the kids’ food business:

Like generations before them, Millennial moms 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.  The Boomer parenting style focused on building confidence, and 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. 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.  As a result, it’s become essential for makers and marketers of kids’ food and beverage products to have a presence in these types of social media and to engage Millennial moms with relevant dialogue to keep her loyal and spreading the word to her social circle.   

Unlike previous mom generations, today’s moms are less likely to have the time or know-how to cook a nutritious meal or snack for her kids.  Yet, it’s quite likely that this is something every mom desires to give her child.  This has led to kids’ food and beverage innovation leveraging health and wellness propositions to give kids the nutrition they need-adding yet one more criterion for industry players to uphold.

Another reason for the change in the kids’ food business is the purchasing influence of today’s kids:

Shopping with kids is often riddled with pleas for various items-and parents know and likely expect such behavior, especially when shopping with young children.  Today’s parents reportedly don’t like it when their children ask for non-essential purchases; however, it’s clear they find it hard to resist such requests.  Moreover, parents also report that their kids have significant power in brands they choose.  While moms may have the final decision on purchase, it’s clear that they listen to what their kids are asking for.  As such, industry players have more reason than ever to up the ante in terms of entertainment and playability to maximize kid appeal.

To sum it up, successful marketers of kids’ food and beverage have to be pretty good at juggling the elements of taste, nutrition, and entertainment in effort to dually satisfy interest of two audiences-parents and kids.  It seems that the opportunity is for industry players to target kids as the gateway for new product introduction with “fun” innovation, while following up with health/wellness positioning to give moms the reason they are looking for to say “yes” to their kids’ requests. 

To read more about Packaged Facts’ latest report on the Kids Food and Beverage Market in the U.S., please visit

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