2010 NAFFS Yearbook
Kids Say the Darndest Things - Listen to Them
"Kids play a significant role in household purchasing decisions,” Judith R. Lindsey, general manger, Product Dynamics told attendees at the NAFFS 92nd Annual Convention. In fact, they make their own choices.
Four of the top 10 items kids aged 8-12 say they can buy without their parent’s permission are foods and beverages, according to Lindsey. And kids have strong opinions on brands, saying branded products taste better than identical unbranded items. Lindsey also stressed “brands bonded with as a kid remain throughout life.”
Looking at health through kids’ eyes, Lindsey noted they have definitive perceptions about what is healthy and what isn’t. Most kids will agree that overweight/fat is not healthy. They also believe healthy means less candy, pop, chips and fast food and more vegetables and fruit. Kids today are also more aware of serving sizes and the importance of being more active, she said.
Children are highly influenced by their family so what is offered and eaten at a young age is very important, Lindsey noted. They can also associate good experiences with a taste. While the threshold level for sweetness in 3- to 6-year-olds is greater than adults, the sensitivity increases with the age of the child. They are also influenced by color, texture, aroma and marketing.
Lindsey urged immersing oneself in their world when developing products for children. “See things through their eyes and experience what is important to them,” said Lindsey.
“Spend time with your target audience and taste their products. Do a virtual shopping trip and critique the basket of others. You’ll gain a perspective of what is catching their eye,” she added.
Talk to kids, she advised. Ask them what they just ate and why – the good as well as the bad. You’ll gain a better understanding of whether health played a role in the decision path.
“Allow involvement and guidance when developing a product,” said Lindsey. “Let kids take you places you may not normally go. It doesn’t replace guidance testing but will broaden your knowledge of how they reach decisions.”
Lindsey suggested using tools such as reaction panels and teaming. She said in reaction panels, target consumers are gathered to experience products, characteristics and elements. They provide their reaction, discuss the experience and provide direction. It allows exposure to “out-of-the-box” thinking, she said.
When teaming, choose one or two consumers to spend time with a developer and actively participate in formulation sessions. This works well with older kids and moms. They will also respond to the products and provide a reaction group,” she said.
When connecting with kids, it helps to play at their level. Citing examples, Lindsey noted:
• Trick or Treat….give me something sweet
o Predominance of something they will like
• Hide & Seek
o Incorporation of high nutritive density ingredients in small quantities
• Charades – looks like, feels like, tastes like
o Keep as many characteristics the same
o Mimic visual, if able
• Follow the leader
o Frame of reference is important…what are comparisons
• What is different in this picture?
o Moderate increases in positive nutrition
o Small gradual decreases in negative nutrition
o Incorporate play, distraction
Lindsey said developers must encompass other senses in addition to taste when developing products for kids, noting that “texture and visual are also extremely important.”
Adults, Lindsey said, are essentially big kids. “But there are differences in tastes and they have a more experienced pallet. The sensitivity diminishes with age, however, as they become elderly.” Adults are more motivated to accept healthy products because health concerns are on their mind, noted Lindsey. However, taste is still the driver.