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It's All About The Kids

Tom Karst -- The Packer


I was chatting recently with a friend – a “Gen X mom” - about her grocery shopping habits, using my professional privilege to angle for insight on how she purchased produce.

I was chatting recently with a friend – a “Gen X mom” - about her grocery shopping habits, using my professional privilege to angle for insight on how she purchased produce.

“Where do you shop?

Mostly Hy-Vee, she responded.

“Do you buy organic?” I asked.

“I have a list,” she said.

I grimaced. Horrors – not “the” list?! Not the Dirty Dozen list, surely?

Of course it was precisely such a list, though I refrained from interrogating her further and inevitably blasting her.

After all, what kind of friend would I be to denounce her in industry pundit style for trying to make the best decision for her three kids? Even if she did put misplaced her trust in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide laden produce, I wasn’t going there.

It got me to thinking about how the industry approaches the issue of kids and marketing to moms of children.

When it comes down to it, kids are the little people moms care about the most. The thought “love me, love my kids” rings true.

Anything a mom can do to protect and shelter her child; she will do, given the economic resources.

It shouldn’t surprise the industry that moms will put credence in lists like the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.” In fact, these are the types of mom who probably top the charts in the love and care they show their kids. You tell a mom that she can do something to reduce the risk to her kids and she will do it.

So the industry can produce an expert panel to provide a counter-argument about the validity of the “Dirty Dozen” list, but will that reach the heart of a mom? A dispassionate observer may agree that the Dirty Dozen list is a ridiculous media stunt lacking any solid scientific footing, but a mom of a 5-year old girl may not buy it.

The question is this: how do fruit and vegetable marketers show Gen X moms (and every other mom, I suppose) the love, care and concern the marketers have for their kids?

The idea of “marketing to kids” is perhaps part of the answer. If SpongeBob Square pants or a Toy Story character on a bag of fresh produce can make a child happy, then that will make the mom happy.

Yet I think the message goes deeper than high graphic cartons.

Perhaps one message is that moms show compassion and love to their kids by providing them with a healthy diet. Sure, moms say they don’t want to put under the pile for falling short in what they feed their kids, but creating images of warmth and love associated with serving fruits and vegetables is a winning message.

Yes, everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are nutritious and good for you. But does that matter of fact, black and white nutrition label logic speak to the emotion of moms giving their children good food?

Perhaps the message could be contrasted with fears of making the wrong choices for their kids, relating to obesity and other health issues.
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