Magazine article Marketing

Opening Up the Lunchbox

Magazine article Marketing

Opening Up the Lunchbox

Article excerpt

Dairylea's focus on health reflects a wider shift in the way children are targeted, writes Mary Cowlett.

Kraft Foods' recent decision to reposition its Dairylea brand highlights the tightrope marketers walk when promoting snacks destined for school lunchboxes. This is particularly salient when it comes to products that are high in saturated fat, sugar or salt (HFSS).

British children consume 5.5bn packed lunches a year, and the content of these is under growing scrutiny by health campaigners and others that take an interest in the food eaten in schools.

Meanwhile, the UK's rules governing the marketing of HFSS products to children are among the strictest in the world. They include a ban on advertising during children's television programmes as well as those that are likely to be watched by a significant number of children Moreover, it is a stipulation that Ofcom does not intend to relax.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the University of Leeds, 82% of children's packed lunches contain HFSS food such as crisps and biscuits. While some view such statistics as yet another stick with which to beat parents, it seems that Dairylea's latest strapline, 'It's good to be free' - a reference to its 'free-from' health credentials - may prove to be a canny move.

Parent power

'The spreadable cheese brand is designed to appeal to kids through its flavour and packaging,' says Kraft corporate affairs director Jonathan Horrell. 'However, market research reveals that parents overwhelmingly want to be reassured that there are no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours (in the food consumed by their children).'

For other snack brands, however, there is only so much they can do to strip out HFSS ingredients without compromising quality or taste.

'People talk about children's pester power, but that's the same in every sector, right up to the choices made about which family car to buy,' says Tom Lamb, head of the marketing to families unit at integrated agency Billington Cartmell. 'The brands that do very well are those that make the emotional connection with mum.'

As such, the default setting for child-friendly snacks is to focus on messages and promotions surrounding healthy living, family days out and educational support. …

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