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Kids’ cereal challenges: Do not underestimate pester power, says analyst

By Kacey Culliney , 02-May-2013
Last updated the 02-May-2013 at 15:28 GMT

Nearly 50% of parents say their children 'heavily influence' grocery decisions, Datamonitor finds
Nearly 50% of parents say their children 'heavily influence' grocery decisions, Datamonitor finds

Kids’ cereal brands must target parents but pester power from their children must not be underestimated or ignored, says an analyst.

Around 70% of parents are concerned about the nutritional quality of food they buy for their children, according to Datamonitor’s global consumer survey.

However, findings also showed that nearly half of parents with children under 13 years admitted their children ‘heavily influence’ grocery shopping decisions.

“Of course brands should target parents because they are the shoppers and ultimately have the final say on which products to buy for their children. They are the ‘gatekeepers’. That said, they should not underestimate pester power,” Ramaa Chipalkatti, consumer insights analyst at Datamonitor, told BakeryandSnacks.com.

Engaging with children is a must

Chipalkatti said pester power can be driven by a number of factors including peer pressure, experience-related brand engagement like online games or product promotions such as free gifts.

“Children are far more likely to be sold on the ‘fun factor’ rather than health credentials…Marketing and packaging are fundamental to engage with the younger generation,” she said.

In a recently published ‘Expert View’ report, the analyst highlighted the importance of targeting children themselves.

“It is important for cereal brands to look beyond reformulation initiatives to engage with end-consumers, the children,” she wrote.

‘Made-for-me’ cereal

Chipalkatti said that one way to engage better is to take on age-based targeting – a tactic relatively unexplored but brimming with promise.

Cereal makers should target specific age groups with certain formulations relevant to nutrient needs, she said. This would enable manufacturers to differentiate in a “crowded” category, she said, and makes purchasing decisions for parents much simpler.

“Even if the nutritional profile and requirements of certain age types overlap, age-based targeting creates a sense of personalization and drives a ‘made-for-me’ feeling.”

‘Extreme Porridge’ in the UK is a great example, she said, as it explicitly targets 7-15 year olds, with urbanized packaging to reflect fashions, attitudes and styles of today’s streetwise kids and claims on pack to be ‘uber-cool’.

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