Online Exclusives

Mother Knows Best

By Joanna Cosgrove, Online Editor | February 28, 2013

A survey of more than 1,000 moms uncovers top food purchasing drivers.

According to a national survey of more than 1,000 American mothers conducted by Fleishman-Hillard and TheMotherhood.com, 96% of moms planned to change their food-buying habits this year, thanks in large part to the growing influence of friends and food bloggers. The study, “Cart to Kitchen 2013: Slicing Into Moms' Food Decisions,” identified moms’ meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation behaviors, while uncovering insights about the food influencers and media channels moms trust most when it comes to making food-buying decisions.

Moms revealed that they placed a higher priority on the opinions of bloggers and peers than that of experts like doctors and dietitians—an important takeaway for food marketers, said Kristie Sigler, senior vice president at Fleishman-Hillard. “Moms are turning to their peers online and off for information about food, from general to more specific information about genetically modified organisms, pesticides and other food safety topics,” Ms. Sigler said.

The moms polled overwhelmingly indicated that they didn’t think major brands were relating to them and their unique needs, said Liz Hawks, founding co-chair of the agency’s marketing-to-moms team. “Brands can bridge the gap by starting with facts, moving to insights and ending with ideas that will drive moms' food purchases, even in the face of so much change,” she said.

The firms found that organizational tasks such as shopping, meal planning and meal prep appeared to be the most difficult areas of responsibility for moms. Moms indicated they wanted to be more organized in how they shop (41%), and they wanted to make fewer trips to the grocery store (33%). In addition, they expressed an interest in getting more organized with weekly meal planning (67%) and making meals ahead and freeze them (51%). Moms also said they looked to food brands to help them become more organized.

Nutrition proved to be another key focus for moms. A large portion of moms polled said their desired 2013 food-purchase changes were earmarked with the desire to buy healthier food. More than half of the moms surveyed said they began making healthier-minded food purchases in 2012 by reducing purchases of snacks, sugar, processed foods, soda and carbohydrates. And 49% of moms—particularly moms younger than 30—said they wanted to buy less processed food in 2013.

Fifty percent of moms acknowledged that they had been reading more food labels now than they had before. In fact, 78% of respondents said they regularly read labels, with another 15% who “sometimes” read labels, particularly when they are cooking dinner at home four or more times per week. Moms said they looked to labels to indicate ingredients they wanted to consume less, including high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial dyes and gluten.

Moms also revealed that technology was prevalent in their kitchens. Only one-fourth of moms said they don't use any technology in the kitchen while cooking. Of the three-fourths of moms who said they use technology while cooking, sources such as AllRecipes.com (25%), Pinterest (19%) and FoodNetwork.com (15%) ranked highest. Beyond the aforementioned websites, moms said they relied on food-based TV programs and the online counterparts of food magazines.

“We found it interesting that more than three-quarters of moms are watching food programs on TV and reading food media websites, and nearly three-quarters have signed up for food brand e-mails, considering these are not all ‘foodie’ moms, but everyday meal-preparing moms,” said Cooper Munroe, co-founder of TheMotherhood.com. “Food brands must evaluate how they are using these trusted channels to deliver the right messages, mom to mom.”

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