The kids’ food and beverage market requires a special approach to both innovation and marketing because industry players must sate the needs of both parents (as the purchaser) and kids (as the user), according to a report published by Packaged Facts, New York.

The uniqueness of this market is that there’s no distinct way to differentiate kids’ food from regular food products. Of course, marketers may use fun shapes, crazy colors or character merchandising to appeal to kids, however, this doesn’t make a product exclusive to kids. This grey area provides incentive for marketers to innovate new product lines that can be adapted to kids’ needs and desires or more broadly as a family-friendly food or beverage. Indeed, the kids’ food and beverage market offers significant promise to any player looking to expand their audience, according to the report, “Kids Food & Beverage Market in the U.S., 9th Edition.”

Connecting kids’ food market to growth opportunities

It’s pertinent to understand key factors that help define the size of the market and potential for growth. The most effective marketers will leverage honed strategies to increase connection with the core family market without alienating the childless household.

Understanding how the changing family dynamic impacts the market for kids’ food and beverage is also imperative. Specifically, Millennials now represent a large constituent of the parent demographic, and these consumers have a different approach to parenting than previous generations. These consumers have a definitive perspective on what is important in products and brands they buy. Growth of the multicultural population also bears weight on the family demographic and requires marketers to leverage strategies in order to appeal to varied traditional and cultural values.

Economic conditions emerge as a factor to growth and demand for kids’ food and beverage. In fact, the core shopper of kids’ food and beverage have one of the highest median household incomes, and when coupled with increasing consumer confidence, is a significant opportunity for category growth.

As with any food and beverage market, health and wellness trends emerge as an important market factor. Industry players are doing their part through new product development of healthier kid-friendly food and beverage, but there’s clearly room for more players to find a seat at this table. The stealth health movement is a good example of how industry purveyors are developing products to help parents increase kids’ fruit and veggie intake while still retaining kid appeal.

What matters to parents when food shopping

Collectively, these factors create context as to the size and potential of the kids’ food and beverage market, however, it’s important for makers and marketers to better understand what influences parents’ decisions on what they feed their children. In terms of product attributes, fresh food/beverage and products on special sale/promotion are among the most valued product qualities by parents. Parents also seek out food and beverages that are all-natural, non-GMO, no/low sugar and have no artificial ingredients. Marketers must clearly tout such attributes, as parents are likely to consider information on product labels.

Still, kids emerge as a key influencer over parents’ choices. For instance, 54.7% of parents say their kids’ preferences and requests are especially important to them. Further, nearly all (91%) of parents say they buy a new food or beverage that their kids ask for at least some of the time, with 20% indicating they almost always do so. This provides incentive for marketers to continue to target the end user in promotional efforts.

A lucrative market for food marketers and manufacturers

By exploring usage trends, marketing strategies and product innovation across a range of retail food and beverage categories, the degree to which these market factors and parental attitudes/behaviors are at play becomes evident. The takeaway is that the kids’ food and beverage market offers a lucrative opportunity to all players who wish to navigate the tricky business of appealing to particular parents and fickle kids.