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Despite Parents' Efforts Kids Control the Shopping Cart


Even though more and more American parents are trying to make the family menu healthier, two out of three of them admit to buying food to appease their kids, according to a new survey. Marketers trying to reach those parents with overt messaging about nutrition may want to give that strategy a second thought —that message simply doesn’t resonate with some of them and may actually drive them away.

The national survey, which looked at the behavior and priorities of America’s food shoppers , found that when it comes to healthy eating and shopping habits, Americans can be grouped into six distinct segments — Child Pleasers, Jugglers, Budget Driven, Short Cuts, Health Savvies and Naturals.

Though this won’t come as a news flash for most parents, the survey found that there was one common denominator across all segments — their kids complain about what’s served. And two out of three shoppers said they buy to appease their children some of the time. The groups most challenged to keep their purchases healthy are the Child Pleasers and the Short Cuts.

Child Pleasers (27 percent) are the largest single group in the survey and admit that they trade nutrition for the food preferences of their kids to avoid a dinner-table standoff. For them, family dynamics trumps health and they are the most resistant to overt messaging about nutrition.

Also challenged by keeping mealtime healthy are the Short Cuts (14 percent). For them, expediency rules the day, the survey found. These are parents who shop for convenience, choosing “quick and simple” rather than “natural” or “organic.” They know what the right choices are for family food but buy foods that fit into their lifestyle.

The goal of the survey, sponsored by M Booth & Associates’ Better4You food, nutrition and consumer health communications group, is to provide insights for marketers on reaching Americans and understanding their needs, habits and openness to healthier food choices.

“As we see it, the survey adds a new component in understanding how to position a healthy brand with its core customers and tailor messages that fit them like a glove,” said Rich Goldblatt, co-director of the Better4You group.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.