What do moms want? That depends on whom you ask.

When it comes to buying food for their children, various segments of mothers have different purchasing motivators. Your marketing strategy should be personalized depending on whom you are targeting. That way your communication strategy will resonate with them.



Millennials (born during the 1980s and early 1990s) are the largest growing segment of moms. This cohort generation is 23 percent less likely to value food brands and 18 percent less likely to shop at traditional grocers (StoreBrandDecisions, 2012). While these moms are value driven, they will pay more for perceived health attributes in food, such as non-GMO, organic, natural, local and specialty foods (Hoffman, Beth, 2012).

Mommy greenest

Nearly three-quarters of green moms are Gen Xers or Millennials (Deliver Magazine, 2012). These moms are willing to spend more on organic and natural foods in exchange for the social value of improving the environment. This segment is shifting focus to where the organic products come from and will consider non-organic local foods from the local Farmer’s market. This segment is also distrustful of brands with superfluous green marketing tactics.

Politically Minded

These moms loathe unethical food marketing techniques that undermine their parental authority when it comes to what their kids eat. MOM’s Organic Market is one small retail chain who is catering to this small demographic. The Baltimore based company announced earlier this year that they will no longer carry products featuring children’s cartoon characters (Simon, Michele, 2013). This may motivate additional retail chains to do the same, while also influencing the marketing strategy of some food companies who strive to maintain these politically minded consumers.

Less Convenience Driven

The days of sacrificing healthy eating for convenience are slowly waning. Modern moms are beginning to value home cooked meals in order to create a healthier eating environment for their family. With that said, moms still enjoy saving time in the kitchen by preparing semi-homemade meals with pre-packaged meal components (such as marinated meat or pre-cut veggies) (DeBroff, Stacy, 2011). These moms also prefer simple recipes with five ingredients or less and will use frozen foods if they can still capture the feel of a semi-home cooked meal.

Identifying whom your brand speaks to provides a great exercise for an evolving marketing strategy. The goal is to coordinate the brand messaging with your primary target market. You may find additional segmentation is necessary, for example: income, stage of motherhood, religious/ethnic background, and marital status. Regardless, moms are ready and waiting for the right brand to speak to them…all you have to do is listen to what they want.




Profiling The Healthy Food Mom

The food purchase decisions of healthy food consumers can be profiled in two major ways, taste-motivated and health motivated. Brian Wansink describes the differences between these two segments in his book titled, Marketing Nutrition, Soy, Functional Foods, Biotechnology, and Obesity.

In order to profile the difference between the two segments, Wansink conducted a series of both qualitative and quantitative studies identifying the purchase motivations for soy. He segmented the consumers into four profiles: The Creative Cook, The Ethical Cook, The Carpe Diem Cook and The Achiever Cook (get a sneak peak @ Wansink’s book here). Of these, Healthy Food Moms resemble the Ethical Cook (taste-motivated) and the Carpe Diem Cook (Health Motivated).


Health-Motivated Healthy Food Mom

Wansink profiles the Carpe-Diem cook as a woman in her mid-thirties, active in her community. Healthy Food Moms profiled as the Carpe-Diem cook are fit and healthy. They are well informed about nutrition and dietary trends and not fooled by unnecessary health claims. While price conscious, she will pay more for healthy foods if the perceived value is raising a healthier family. She also likes products that are packaged especially to children. Communication strategies targeted to the Carpe-Diem Healthy Food Mom should focus on health benefits for the whole family. Convenience based promotions are also likely to be effective.

Taste-Motivated Healthy Food Mom

The ethical Healthy Food Mom is a plant-based consumer who prefers to purchase healthy, organic, eco-friendly and/or local foods. She is either a vegetarian or a meat eater who primarily consumes a plant-based diet. This profile may also include mothers of children who are required to be on a specialized diet. These shoppers are price conscious and suspicious of needless health claims. The Ethical Healthy Food mom shops at health food stores, co-ops, specialty stores and supermarkets (Wansink, 2005). They trust third party experts such as dietitians and other healthy food experts. Marketing strategies to this segment should communicate the products health benefits and other attributes such as being green, organic, non-GMO, fair trade, eco-friendly etc.

Health-motivated consumers eat foods because they are supposed to be good for them, not necessarily because they like the product. This segment is likely to move on to the next health food craze without having any loyalty to your healthy food product. Wansink believes that the taste-oriented consumer (Ethical Healthy Food Mom) is more brand loyal. While food companies should target both segments, capturing the taste-motivated segment gives food companies a sustainable competitive advantage.



Food Purchase Decisions of “Healthy Food Moms”

Mothers who prioritize buying healthy food are the leaders for future moms to follow. Identifying what drives this segment to buy healthy food will give food companies an opportunity to build an authentic product and marketing strategy that resonates with this growing segment.

Moms who buy healthier food for their children (Health Food Moms) make informed decisions about the food products they buy and companies they support. They value and protect health and believe that diet and health are linked (Rutgers, 2013).


When it comes to purchasing packaged foods, what constitutes as a healthy food for these trailblazing moms?

Minimally “Processed”

Most of what we eat is technically “processed” unless you are eating directly from your garden. In an interview with PBS, Melanie Warner, author or Pandora’s Lunchbox, defines processed foods simply as “something that you could not make at home in your own home kitchen with those same ingredients.” Moms who limit their purchase of processed foods (as defined by Warner) look for short ingredient lists with identifiable ingredients, while also scanning the Nutrition Facts Panel for sodium, fat and sugar content.

Free of Artificial Dyes and Flavors

Healthy Food Moms will avoid purchasing products with artificial dyes and flavors. Products with front of label terms such as “No Artificial Flavors, Synthetic Colors or Preservatives” are appealing to this segment. These moms are among the health food activists supporting the petition to remove artificial dyes (yellow dyes 5 and 6) from Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese products.


Healthy Food Moms are becoming more concerned about the safety of consuming food with GMO ingredients. This segment is not completely avoiding GMO foods and definitely prefer foods without GMO ingredients. Unlike Kraft, Whole Foods is a company who is listening to their target market, which is largely composed of Healthy Food Moms and will label foods with GMO ingredients by 2018. This will likely increase the sales of and therefore demand for alternative products that do not have GMO ingredients.

Organic, Locally Grown/Produced and Pesticide Free

Organic foods are preferable, but these moms will buy the cheaper alternative if it is not compromised nutritionally. Especially when free of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial ingredients and GMOs.

Low in Sugar and Free of HFCS and artificial sweeteners

Sugar content is a benchmark for measuring the health value of packaged food products. Healthy Food Moms generally avoid foods with HFCS and artificial sweeteners in the ingredient list.

Gluten Free

Like many Americans, Healthy Food Moms are either decreasing the amount of gluten-based products they purchase or going entirely gluten free. This is a trend likely to continue for years to come.

Additional factors that affect purchasing decisions of Healthy Food Moms include taste, price, convenience, culinary skills, and interest in making healthy home-made meals.

Comments and thoughts are encouraged!









Content Marketing to Moms Online

Young Woman Sitting in Front of a Computer and Laughing

Social networking and blogs have developed an online community forum for moms to share and learn from each other’s struggles and recommendations. An ideal way to communicate to Healthy Food Moms online is directly through their preferred social networking sites or blogs. Here’s how:

  1. Identify at least 10 high traffic sites that already promote healthy eating in children. Convenience food companies should refrain from recipe only sharing sites (unless your product can serve as an ingredient).
  2. Do a brief content analysis in order to determine how to communicate your value proposition to the target audience. Think about the meaningful solutions your product offers for mothers in order to stimulate interest and dialogue amongst the community. Make sure to refrain from being too commercial, that will only drive her away.
  3. Create several pieces of articles 200-500 words in length. Integrating your company’s product message with a hint of branding. Include attractive incentives to motivate the audience to purchase your product (micro coupon codes, free shipping, free samples, contest…be creative ).
  4. Contact the mom webmasters and offer to pay for placement of the article on her site. This will ensure your article is posted and, more importantly, promoted.

Doing this enhances your web-based relationship with the powerful community of healthy food moms online.

HELPFUL TIP: I will be sharing some of the top mommy blogging sites on my Twitter and Facebook pages, follow, learn and comment!

Emotional Value Proposition for Healthy Food

Many companies launch a marketing strategy with the main goal of increasing sales. Makes sense right? Well sort of, but those of us well versed in marketing, know that we aren’t selling the product; we are selling the value proposition.

The value proposition is the feature intended to make a product attractive to consumers. Ideally you want to develop one that connects to moms at an emotional level. Disney’s value proposition is not about having fun on Space Mountain, it’s about selling memories that last a lifetime. The current ad campaign for Boba baby carriers isn’t about a comfortable way to carry a baby, it’s about the value of becoming a mom, check out their video clip here (try not to cry like I did).


I love seeing my daughter enjoy making food from
scratch (imagine your product in the background as a
main component to a fresh pasta meal) 

Think about it, what is the real value that a mom gets when she buys healthy food for her child? Here are a few ideas:

  • Generations of Healthy Eating: A mom seeing her child feed her own children healthy when she grows up
  • High IQ: A child coming home with a high-test score because she eats a healthy breakfast at home every morning
  • Mommy and Me Time: A child connecting with his mom while cooking dinner with her (using your product as one of the key ingredients)
  • Family Time and Confidence: A mother feeling confident when she prepares a healthy and tasty meal her whole family enjoys

What is your emotion based value proposition? How will you communicate this to your audience? Need help? Email me at jasminilkay@jicamamarketing.com.

Identifying motives of mothers who purchase healthy convenience snacks for their children: A Phenomenological Study

I’m pleased to announce that I was recently published in the Journal of Business Studies Quarterly. Below is the abstract to the article. You can access a full text version of the article on the Journal of Business Studies Quarterly website.

Mothers account for over two trillion dollars of the purchasing power in the United States (Bailey, 2008). Women are responsible for ninety-three percent of all food purchases (Duke, 2010)and Healthy Food Moms are a growing segment of mothers influencing the food industry. Despite the recognition of the purchasing power of moms and their changes in food choices, a majority of food companies are not effectively communicating with them. Identifying what influences the food purchasing decisions of Health Food Moms can enhance food-marketing strategy and positively influence the purchase decisions of other moms. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to interview a subset of mothers in order to identify what motivates them to purchase healthy snacks for their children. The findings show that the surveyed mothers lack a trend in brand loyalty; are less inclined to let their children influence food purchase decisions; children’s snacks purchased by this cohort differ from that of the general population; and the subjects mainly rely on the ingredient list and amount of sugar as benchmarks to determine whether kids’ snacks are healthy. This article is prepared for those in the retail health food industry in order to provide insight into the purchase motivators of mothers who value providing healthier food for their children. Future related studies may also unlock the core values of these mothers, which could help public health experts can encourage other moms to adopt healthier shopping methods.

Innovation in Food Entrepreneurship

Earlier this week I saw Seth Godin present at CUNY. Godin’s recent book, The Icarus Deception, argues that we have surpassed the confines of the industrial revolution way of thinking. On SquarePlace.com, he states, “The industrial revolution is being consumed by technology…What the Internet has created is the connection revolution.” At CUNY Godin talked about how entrepreneurs can succeed in the connection revolution by embracing weirdness, the era of infinity and enabling the impossible.


Seth Godin and I

Embrace Weirdness

Target the “Foodie weirdos.” These are the early adopters in the marketplace who are responsible for creating the next hot food trends. Weirdos don’t care what people think, they love trying new things…especially when no one else is. A couple years ago, the idea of kids eating roasted seaweed seemed preposterous; today it is one of the leading healthy snacks consumed by kids in America.

We are in the era of infinity…not scarcity

Even in a saturated health food market, innovative food companies can thrive. Kind Snacks is a healthy food company who started in 2004 with one idea, making a snack bar with ingredients you can “both see and pronounce.”  They took the lid off the snack bar “jar” and introduced something entirely different. Seven years of product refinement combined with an innovative communications strategy lead Kind Snacks to sales of $125 million last year (Fast Company Staff, 2013).

Revolutions destroy perfect and enable the impossible

We are in the age of the Healthy Food Revolution. Americans have embraced the fact that food is medicine. That healthy eating can lead to an improved life and state of mind. Ride the healthy food revolution wave, embrace the weird and let innovation facilitate your success as a healthy food entrepreneur.



Competitive Analysis: Healthy Food Industry

Keep your customers close and your competitors closer. Conducting a competitive analysis is an important component to the marketing planning process. It can help you determine who you are in competition as well as identify best practices within the industry.


 Take these simple steps in order to complete a useful competitive analysis.

Compile a List of Competitors

A competitive analysis starts with finding your competitors. The first step is compiling a list of companies that your food product is in competition with. Go beyond a Google search and use additional tools such as SpyFu, Google Trends and Google Alerts. Monitor social network sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Technorati and Twitter. Make sure to go offline and visit various grocery stores where your competitors have shelf space. Interview shoppers and grocery store managers and identify where the competitors have their products on the shelves.

Determine the Marketing Mix

Pick the top five products you identify as direct competitors and examine their marketing mix:

  1. Product: How is their product the same? How is it different? What are the perceived benefits to the consumer?
  2. Place: Is their product in the health food section or regular isle? What types of stores is their product sold at? Who goes to these stores?
  3. Price: Compare price and how the consumer perceives the value of that price.
  4. Promotion: How does the product communicate its features and benefits to the consumer? What types of marketing and communications strategies are employed (social media, email marketing, food product demos, in-store price promotions, point of sale signs, etc.)?

Use SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a framework you can use for analyzing your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. Look at your competitors through the eyes of the consumer and identify what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, missed opportunities and potential threats that may affect your company’s success.

Organize the Data

Once you have compiled the information, create a spreadsheet. Having a measurable system in place will allow you to systematically keep track of your competitors. Don’t bother re-inventing the wheel, there are plenty of free templates available from: Microsoft, Score, and many others that you can find with a simple Google image search.

A competitive analysis is a great exercise to help you identify your competitors and has a major impact on your business sales. Make sure to update it every six to 12 months. This will enhance your marketing and sales strategy.

Food Trends, Marketing and Cultural Competency Part 3: Case Study: Multicultural Marketing Through Co-branding

Goya Foods is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States and the brand of choice for authentic Latino cuisine. Earlier this spring, Goya announced its partnership with Beech-Nut, one of the largest baby food brands in the United States.

The Beech-Nut Goya brand is a line of baby food promoted as having authentic Hispanic flavors made especially for babies. They have unique product offerings such as rice cereal with mango and puree flavor combinations like apple guava, peach mango and carrots and corn.


Why Co-Brand?

Co-branding offers a unique opportunity for companies to introduce a new product or tap into a new market. In the case of Beech-Nut Goya, Beech-Nut is hoping to capture the attention of Hispanic mothers by leveraging Goya’s stance in the marketplace as the premiere Hispanic food company. Goya will get product placement beyond the Hispanic food section of grocery stores, potentially gaining brand awareness and revenue from the non-Hispanic mom.


Goya Foods President, Bob Unanue hopes to “bridge Hispanic mother’s desire for healthy, traditional baby food with their need for convenience and nutrition in today’s hectic world (Lukovitz, 2013).”  Beech-Nut is listening to the needs of Hispanic mothers, who according to a study done by Beech-Nut, state that they are not satisfied with current baby food choices.


Like most baby food brands, Beech-Nut is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. However, some Healthy Food Moms might prefer their product be free of GMOs and/or organic, especially when it comes to baby food. Beech-Nut might struggle with authenticity when they rely on the Goya name to market products aimed at Hispanic mothers. Certain components to the ad campaign (see picture below) do not effectively speak to Hispanic moms. For example they show a Latina Mama preparing infant cereal and where is the baby? You may recall from my previous post that marketing strategies targeted to Hispanic moms should capture the importance of building memories through food and that meals are a time for families to be together. Surely pictures of a mother, alone, making baby food won’t clearly resonate with Hispanic moms. They may also thwart the non-Hispanic mother who wants their baby to try more ethnically diverse foods, feeling like the product is not marketed to them. Finally, there is also the risk of brand power inequity, brand dilution, and a general lack of failing consumer expectations.


Final Thoughts

I am excited to see these companies work together in order to meet the demands of the Healthy Hispanic Mom. Diversifying baby food flavor offerings is a no-brainer considering American demographic trends. I am interested in seeing whether Goya and Beech-Nut can leverage co-branding as a way to capture new target markets.

Food Trends, Marketing and Cultural Competency Part 2: The Voices of Multicultural Moms

Ethnic marketing requires learning about how cultural beliefs affect the purchasing decisions of consumers. According to Brian Wansink, tailoring food marketing messages to various minority segments begins with assessing the food perceptions and cultural context of each minority segment (Wansink, 2007). Food marketers should focus on basic demographics, food culture and trends, grocery shopping habits, family cultural values, and spending power.

Part 2 of this series briefly highlights some key cultural norms of American Hispanic, Asian and Black mothers. As you learn more about the beliefs and values of different cultures, you can plan an appropriate marketing strategy that will positively communicate with these minority segments. The third and final part of this series is a case study that provides an example of how to implement a food marketing and communications strategy to Hispanic mothers.

Mother and Daughter Baking Together

Hispanic American Mothers

The Latina Mama sees her primary role as serving and protecting her children and family (ConAgra, 2011). Their decisions are 50 percent more likely to be child-influenced than non-Hispanics (ConAgra, 2011).

Over 60 percent of Hispanics in the United States are of Mexican origin, with the remaining from Puerto Rican (9.2 percent), Cuban (3.5 percent), Salvadoran (3.3 percent) and Dominican (2.8 percent) (infoplease.com, 2013).  Mexican flavors account for the majority of Latin cuisine served in America. More recently we have seen Cuban, Puerto Rican, Peruvian and Brazilian flavors permeate American Latino fusion cuisine.

Food is the preferred medium for Hispanic families to connect with one another and mealtime is often used to connect their family to their culture. A majority (57 percent) of Hispanic mothers cook from scratch compared to the 11 percent of non-Hispanic moms that do (NGLC, 2011). The working Hispanic mom is open to more convenient methods of food preparation, as long as she is involved in the food preparation process.

Marketing Insights: Marketing strategies targeted to Hispanic moms should capture the importance of building memories by cooking meals together as a family with mom.  Packaged food companies should refrain from advertising strategies that show moms getting “me” time in exchange for less food preparation. Instead they can show the value having more quality time with their family.

Asian American Mothers 

Asian Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the fastest growing racial group in the United States.  Like Hispanics, Asians are not a monolithic group. The three largest Asian groups are Chinese, Filipinos, and Asian Indians, followed by Vietnamese, Koreans and Japanese (CDC.gov, 2013).

While diverse in nationality, Asian Americans have distinct cultural values, these include a strong emphasis on family and education, brand selections based on quality and value and strong ties to community preservation (85percentNiche, 2013). The family unite includes children and parents as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Asian American moms tend to spend more on fresh produce and healthy foods. They are less likely to use shopping lists and coupons and are more influenced by what they see in the store, signage and deals. They want products that offer the value of health while also being affordable.

Marketing Insights: Marketing strategies targeted to Asian moms should focus on brand value and quality. Products with displays in Asian communities can capture moms with in-store deals and signage and that conveys the health and lifestyle benefits of the food products. Advertising campaigns should show pictures of grandmothers, mothers and children bridging the generation gap while valuing  cultural traditions.

Black American Mothers

Blacks represent the second largest ethnic group in the United States. Ninety-two percent of Black women identify themselves as African American; the remaining 8 percent immigrate from Africa, the Caribbean or South/Central America (85percentNiche, 2013).

American Black families are usually headed by mothers, who are often referred to as matriarchs, a term not used to describe white single mothers or white wives (Perry, 2013). Black parents want their children to adopt mainstream values while also taking into account the reality of racism and minority status (Perry, 2013).

A 2004 survey of 525 low-income African Americans conducted by the African American 5 a Day Campaign revealed that about 50 percent use coupons and make shopping lists when at the grocery store (5ADay, 2004). According to the Nielson Group, African Americans make more shopping trips than all other groups, but spend less money per trip (Morris, 2011). African Americans in higher income brackets spend 300 percent more in higher-end retail grocers, more than any other high-income household (Morris, 2011).

Marketing Insights: Marketing strategies targeted to Black moms should speak to specific segments of Black Americans. Marketing messages should not be stereotypical or totally inclusive of blacks only. Advertising campaigns should be aspirational and inspirational, capturing the demographic and cultural diversity of Black Americans in the United States.

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