Food Forum: Appeasing GenZ kids in the beverage aisle

By Suley Muratoglu

Kids and moms do not always agree on what to drink. Brand marketers can help.

We have all seen children asking their parents to buy them something in a groMuratogluSuleycery store—some politely and others more persistently—or rejecting healthy options mom may like with a resounding “no.” But how much effect does their behavior really have on what goes into the cart? In the portion-pack beverage category, the answer is “quite a lot” according to research conducted by Tetra Pak.

Whether it is a grade-schooler tugging on mom’s skirt or a toddler stretching and pointing from their perch in the grocery cart, kids tend to get what they want when it comes to beverages they will be expected to drink, says the research. And the numbers are impressive: Interviews with nearly 500 shoppers show that almost 80% of all purchases are influenced by kid requests, and a full 55% of planned purchases are specifically made by child requests. When children are along on the shopping trip—as they are about 60% of the time—they are more likely to not only express an opinion, but also get their way. Only 20% of shoppers say their buying decisions have nothing to do with what their children want.

The Intelligence Group says that GenZ, a demographic that includes 61.2 million youth 14-and-under, are even more opinionated and persistent than their predecessors. So how can savvy brand marketers persuade moms—who ultimately decide what goes in the cart—while still appealing to this generation’s tastes?

•Differentiate by flavor:  After portability and convenience, flavor is the strongest consideration cited by shoppers in the children’s beverage aisle, named by 60% of survey respondents. With flavored waters for kids moving up in this category, including coconut water, kids are poised to be accepting of evermore-sophisticated offerings when it comes to taste.

•Add nutritional benefits:  Nutrition is increasing in importance—now ranking just behind flavor in the decision-making matrix for children’s beverages with just about half of all moms scanning beverage labels. They tend to be looking for lower-sugar, vitamin-rich drinks.

•Explore novel shapes: Unusual shapes can help a package stand out in a crowded aisle. For instance, the Tetra Classic Aseptic has a highly unusual tetrahedron shape that has a proven track record in other countries as a magnet for children.

•Target your age market:  What appeals to a toddler is very likely going to turn off a grade school or middle school child, so it is important to consider age when creating package designs. Segment, where possible, to capture maximum market share, or strive for a “sweet spot” with images or graphics that offer the widest appeal.

•Remember characters are key:  Younger children in particular are drawn to packaging that features a character—such as Tony the Tiger, the emblem of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes—they can identify, as chronicled in a recent Yale research study published in the journal Pediatrics. More broadly, exciting graphics and intriguing shapes attract kids’ attention and stimulate their interest.

•Maximize the billboard effect:  Shoppers spend on average 27 seconds making a decision in this aisle, according to our research, which makes shelf appeal incredibly important in capturing relatively disengaged consumers. Create packaging that offers a bold, consumer-facing billboard on the shelf.

All of these elements—taste, nutrition and inspired packaging and design play into the purchase decision and each can be a powerful motivator for kids. Responsible manufacturers know their packaging can be a force for good to help moms help kids make the healthy choice.

Suley Muratoglu is vice president, marketing and product management for Tetra Pak U.S & Canada. He can be reached at

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