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Snacks for Children: Targeting a New Generation of Parents

April 2020

This briefing explores how the busier lifestyles of new generation parents have increased their reliance on packaged snacks for children. Children offer a big opportunity to brand owners; however, parents have high nutritional expectations of children’s snacks. The categories of interest and approaches to raising nutritional profiles vary significantly between developed and developing regions. Product accessibility and appeal to children are key purchase influencers too.

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Key findings

Eating anytime, anywhere leads to the rise of “snackification”

The emergence of eating anytime, anywhere has brought convenient food options to the top of consumers’ mind. Snacks have benefited, due to their ubiquitous availability; however, the nutritional expectations of snacks have increased too. Brand owners are repositioning snacks for on-the-go consumption, giving rise to healthier alternatives to traditional sweet and savoury products.

Children represent a big opportunity for snack manufacturers

Besides the sheer size of the child population, the growing trend of anytime, anywhere eating amongst children makes this segment a big opportunity for snack manufacturers. With less time spent at home and more meals eaten outside the home, parents will be on the lookout for snacks for on-the-go consumption in the longer term.

Nutrition is a key concern for new generation parents

Children's health is a key parental concern for brand owners to address. Brand owners are focusing on raising the nutritional profile of snacks by using naturally functional food to appeal to parents. Parents play an influential role in making purchases, irrespective of children’s age, although the correlation between parents’ influence and snack purchases weakens with the increase in the child’s age.

Packaging has a role in enhancing product accessibility

Packaging’s influential role in communicating the ingredients through clean labels can be leveraged further. In addition, strategies such as single serve, portable and resealable packs allow food manufacturers to achieve portion control, reduce food wastage and appeal to parents.

Brand engagement – an alternative to traditional advertising

Brand owners are increasingly seeking to engage responsibly with children through product co-creation, pop-up cafés and digital activities. There is much to be explored in the area of digital engagement, as brands owners move towards more responsible advertising.


Key findings

Overview: Snacks, Children and Parents

Packaged snacks outperform foods growth globally
Less and less cooking with each passing generation benefits snacks
Fluid eating habits create newer consumption occasions for snacks
Children are a big opportunity for snack manufacturers
Alternatives to standard sweet and savoury snacks offer a healthier image
Preferences in snacks differ significantly across countries
Parents willing to explore new “ healthier” food options for their children
Key attributes that parents prioritise when purchasing packaged food

Raising Nutritional Profile

Gaps in nutrient intake in snacks to be addressed
Two approaches to raise the nutritional profile of children snacks
Innovations target natural and functional ingredients
Growing appeal of free from labels a cue for future snacks for children
Allergens a promising innovation route in and beyond the free from aisle
Cognitive development in toddlers, a key area of innovation
US leads the way in brain development foods for toddlers

Making Children's Snacks Accessible

Increasing convenience and accessibility of children snacks
Smaller pack sizes allow portion control and keep prices in check
Packaging to enhance portability for on-the-go consumption
Clean labels, to simplify parents’ decision making
E-commerce preferred by consumers seeking convenience
Subscription boxes make snacks more accessible to time pressed parents
Engaging with children consumers: An i ncreasingly fine balance to strike
Engaging with child consumers by co-creating the food flavours

Future Outlook

Children aged 3-7 years and developing markets offer opportunities
Considerable room for growth in developing markets
From targeted occasions to snacks for every occasion
Key takeaways: What do new parents want from their children’s snacks?


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