As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Marketing Food Products to Children

I thought I would share some of my observations I’ve noticed lately with Bryce.

Bryce is a very visual person. He enjoys sketching, colouring, and drawing on the computer.

What I’ve noticed is when we are shopping, the majority of his purchasing decisions are based on the food packing. It’s obvious companies want to make their products as visually appealing for marketing purposes, especially when stacked next to other products on store shelves.

Some examples are:

We purchase a particular brand of fruit snack for school because it has a cartoon lion running through the grass on the box. Bryce will grab it off the shelf and ask to put it in the cart, calling it ‘Lion grass’ for school.

During Halloween we purchased a box of Doritos to hand out to children who were trick-or-treating. The leftover became a snack for Bryce at school. Bryce would ask for ‘ghost’ whenever he wanted Doritos as a snack. The ghost was from the Halloween theme on the box. When in the store recently we asked Bryce if he wanted Doritos for a snack, and he said “No,” instead he wanted a ghost.

He also loves products based on colour, for example, he prefers eggnog over milk because it’s yellow. Even if you mix a little eggnog with a majority of milk, he is excited that the colour of the milk is still yellow.

There are other examples, but I’ll get to the point I am working toward.

I looked at the packaging in the store for the Gluten Free, Casein Free food products. On all (using a very broad brush here) of the packaging the marketing concept is clear. Gluten Free. Healthy. In almost all cases the product packaging was marketing to the adult, The niche consumer for this would be attracted to the healthy nature of the products, and of course the premium prices.

For a majority of items certainly the buying decision would be made by us, but for products designed for consumption by kids why wouldn’t they market to the kids?

I was thinking it would be nice if (with a few product exceptions I’ve seen) manufacturers of smarter, healthier food products marketed their product to Bryce, that he would make better decisions when choosing items for himself. Unfortunately for us a giant orange on the box, or a picture of the product with the words Gluten free doesn’t support Bryce with making good decisions.

If all food products we’re purchased based on their nutritional facts it would be nice, but unfortunately we live in a world where companies marketing to the kids are selling to the kids.


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