The recent financial results from the food and drink giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola indicated a dramatic shift in consumer attitudes to sugary drinks and unhealthy food. Both companies reported impressive results, but the strong product categories didn’t include the drinks, chips and sweets that you might have expected. In fact, both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola reported a dramatic increase in sales of healthy and even organic snack ranges. Consumers appear to be taking the risks of consumption of more unhealthy products more seriously than ever. We’re not going to see either of these companies disappear overnight, however. In fact, both have managed to adapt to these new consumer demands and offer products that appeal to this audience.

An unlikely partnership has come to fruition, further cementing this change in attitudes. Fast-food chain McDonald’s has paired with Mumsnet to launch a “healthy” Happy Meal range for children. McDonald’s has had some bad press in recent years, and it has been trying to fight back against the perception that its products are low quality and mass produced. It’s clear that McDonald’s is trying to listen to its audience with this latest move. However, what can brands learn from these changes in the food and drink industry?

One Size Does Not Fit All

For retailers, it’s important to have a consumer-centric approach. Understanding behavior patterns and being able to categorize consumers can help businesses ensure they’re creating relevant products and marketing them effectively. Consumers that are parents are even more complex, as they fall into two subgroups: one as a parent and one as an individual consumer.

At Giraffe Insights, we’ve noticed interesting patterns around parental behavior that provides us with insight into changing consumer demands, identifying various “types” within the “mom” category. For example, the “organic mom,” a group that noticeably reflects the change in behavior described above, tend to have a higher income that allows them to purchase more expensive products. They’re driven by the desire to surround their children with “natural” and recyclable products, including toiletries, food and toys that are only made using natural and organic materials. We’ve started to see online retailers shifting to accommodate the wants and needs of this group, too.

We also cannot underestimate the role of moms in forming future behaviors of their children. In our Youth Squads segmentation, we identified a group of girls, “mature mommy’s girls” who have a particularly strong bond with their moms. This close relationship and level of respect means they take advice and very much mirror their mom’s behavior. If it’s important to mom to be more conscientious about healthy living, then this will very likely be reflected in the behavior and attitudes of the “mature mommy’s girl.”

Mature mommy’s girls are more likely to agree that leading a healthy lifestyle is a really important part of life (72 percent of this segment agree compared to 63 percent of girls their age).

How Marketers Can Tap Into This Audience

It’s important to remember that moms have a huge amount of spending power. Moms in the U.S. control 85 percent of household purchases, and they’re acting as gatekeepers for their children.

By understanding the differences between various parent personality types, retailers can ensure that brand and product communication remains engaging and relevant.

By identifying and studying the various types of moms around, marketers and retailers will better understand the intricacies behind their consumer buying behavior, allowing them to enhance the experience and also identify particular brand touchpoints. This behavior allows marketers to reconsider the ways in which products should attract the attention of moms, permitting them to rethink strategies across digital, from social media advertising to the entire brand’s digital experience. 

The way that parents behave as consumers is separate to how they will behave as individuals, and this needs to be taken into consideration. Moms have powerful consumer buying influence and it’s important for brands and marketers to consider the impact their purchasing behavior has on the delivery of retail products.

Maxine Fox is managing director, Giraffe Insights, a research firm specializing in kids, youth and family.