Obesity: what kids want
The debate about kids' health has become an explosive one, in which food marketers have become a lightning rod, particularly being blamed for childhood obesity trends. Everywhere we turn, statistics abound, warnings are issued, and accusations fly.
In the midst of this firestorm, The Geppetto Group, WPP's specialist ad agency and marketing consultancy dedicated to kids, teens, young adults and their influencers, identified a gap in the debate on this complex issue. No one seemed to have talked to kids to find out what they thought about food and health.
So Geppetto did just that, creating a substantive quantitative and qualitative study that helps marketers see this issue through a kid's eyes. It uncovers many myths that keep consumers in the dark and many marketers at bay from tackling this complex and thorny issue" and it identifies many ways marketers can create a true "win/win" with ideas that serve both consumers and industry. Here are three of the key opportunities Geppetto identified:
Opportunity 1: The messages that matter aren't getting to kids. Smart marketers can make a real difference to the cause and to their businesses
Our culture's obsession with weight control has propelled an explosion of contradictory weight loss approaches obscuring the one approach that works: balance and moderation. With the number of competing messages ringing in America's ears - good and bad fats, carbs and sugar, the ever-changing food pyramid, it's no wonder we haven't cracked our battle against the bulge.
An alarming 24 per cent of Geppetto's sample indicated that they don't know which foods are good for them. In addition, while respondents easily determined vegetables as "good for you" and fat and sugar as foods to avoid, only a handful of the over 700 surveyed mentioned anything about quantity control or moderation.
A golden opportunity exists for marketers to educate and empower kids and parents - provide clear, compelling information about their products' nutritional make-up; offer choices that give kids the nutritional balance they need without sacrificing the good taste they demand; by ensuring that portions are appropriately sized, and so on.
Opportunity 2: New product opportunities abound"kids tell us what they want
This is where the real growth opportunity lies. We've come a long way from the days of Brussels sprouts. 73 per cent of kids surveyed said they care about eating nutritiously and do so because healthy foods "taste good." Another 65 per cent said there aren't enough healthy foods they can make themselves.
Finally, 59 per cent wished for more healthy foods that are fun to eat, too. Marketers that understand these kids, their needs, and what gets them excited, can leverage those insights to create innovative products that offer healthier alternatives.
Opportunity 3: Speak with precision to the kids and parents who need to hear; beware of unintended negative consequences with the majority
While obesity is growing rapidly it is not the national epidemic it is portrayed to be. According to our study, 14 per cent of kids aged 8-10 consider themselves overweight (consistent with statistics from the CDC).
That means, almost nine out of 10 kids consider their weight to be "just right" or don't think about it at all. They eat according to hunger cues, exercise regularly, and enjoy healthy foods. In short, they have a healthier relationship with food than most adults do! As marketers, we need to know this. That way, we can attend to - not scare - people who need help and encourage young people to continue their smart eating patterns.