Lunchbox battles – does mum always win?

Last week Lynne presented at the Market Research Society Kids & Youth conference on food propositions for the children’s market.  We wanted to talk about what kids want in their lunchboxes versus what parents want to see them eating and what influences parents’ decision making. 

We asked our MumPanel for their views by survey and also using our facebook group for further qualitative discussion. And because we always wanted rounded views we also asked mums at the school gate. The overwhelming message we heard from mums is that they are in control of what goes in their child’s lunchbox, 99% of our parents say they have the ultimate decision. Their child might pester and ask for certain things (and reject things they don’t like) but the parent still sources products. 


We wanted to know what influenced parents when they were buying. It was no surprise to us that mums have lots of factors to consider when purchasing snacks – from their child’s preferences to including healthy foods, allergies, what school wants and budget.  It’s important when you are developing products for snacks that you take all of these points into consideration. A character on a packet may appeal to a child but if mum feels it is an unhealthy choice (and she knows school will agree) then it’s unlikely to make it into her trolley.  It’s a good idea to have a clear idea of what makes your snack a good choice and clearly communicate this to busy parents. 

When it comes to marketing snacks the question companies ask us the most is “do we market to parents or children”? Our survey results showed that parents think information and marketing of snacks should primarily appeal to both parents and children (56%) or parents (42%), with just 2% thinking it should be aimed at children.  How then do you begin to develop for a dual audience? 

  • Start by looking at what parents give as snacks (so cheese, yogurt, fruit) and use this for inspiration.
  • Don’t forget other external forces such as school healthy eating guidelines.
  • Kids are savvy, they understand healthy messages too (41% of mums said that healthy messages appeal to their children).
  • Appeal to both parent & child by messages that they can easily relate to. Sense check as you go with research and focus groups.

You can see Lynne’s full presentation here.

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