“Healthy eating” is a popular growth strategy and focus area for innovation, especially when appealing to moms. Moms represent America’s most powerful consumer, directly in control of $2.4 trillion in the U.S., in addition to her significant influence with her children—including her older children.
Since “healthy” can mean anything from vitamins and minerals to organic ingredients to fad diets, strategists need to ensure they are “speaking the same language” as the moms they are trying to reach.
Fruits and Veggies: The Universal Language of “Healthy”
In our research for Tuning Into Mom, we found that while most moms are trying to provide a healthy diet for their child, the definition of “healthy diet” does vary considerably. Moms generally agree that fruits, vegetables and whole grains are an important part of nutrition.
From a marketing perspective, food providers spend considerable effort to convince Mom that she is making good nutritional choices for her children, and they also offer Mom convenience choices that her children will actually eat. Brands pursuing a “healthy” approach in their marketing to moms strategy can easily focus on fruits and vegetables as food that most moms emphasize as healthy. As Yolanda, the mom of an elementary schoolchild illustrates:
“It’s the fruits and vegetables; I am always trying to push them. He loves the V8 V-Fusion, and they come in a carryable size…. Fruitables [made by Apple & Eve] are also good. My mother-in-law reinforces the fruit as a snack also.”
The topic of getting their children to eat enough vegetables looms large in many conversations with moms. Many moms claim to have trouble getting their children to readily eat enough vegetables. Pam Gardner, consultant with The Food Group, shares her own experience as a mom:
“My survival in the kitchen is what I would loosely term the stir fry. Start out by putting a lot of vegetables in the skillet. Start out with steak or chicken, and add vegetables. Another trick is to take Hungarian Goulash and mix with hamburger meat, and that’s a decent way to get vegetables in because it has mushrooms, peppers and onions. Yes, I had this hamburger base, but I add the vegetables with a whole grain base.”
The strategy of “hiding” vegetables in other products so that kids cannot taste them has moved well beyond homemade recipes to successful commercial products like YoBaby Meals (yogurt, fruit and cereal combinations that are offered in flavors like pear and green bean, apple and sweet potato or peach and squash) or Pirate’s “Veggie Booty,” which are snack puffs made from a mix of vegetables. These products can be a “win-win” for Mom if her child likes the taste and readily eats the product.
Fruits and Veggies by the Numbers
Almost half of moms (43%) in the 2012 State of the American Mom research reported that they are eating or serving more fruits and vegetables in their homes now compared to the past, and the balance, 49%, reported serving the same amount.
Additionally, as far as a fruit or vegetable goes, every type counts for many moms. In fact, 53% find that, “There is no difference to me—a vegetable is a vegetable. I just want my kids to eat it.”
By focusing on fruits and vegetables as an important aspect of “healthy,” marketing strategists will appeal to the broadest range of moms and avoid focusing on areas of health that might be too niche to gain wider notice or acceptance.