Study: Meal Planning Influenced by Foodie Bloggers/Peers

Discussion
Jan 02, 2013

While seeking out healthier meal options for their family, a new survey, conducted by Fleishman-Hillard and TheMotherhood.com, shows that moms are placing a higher priority on the opinions of bloggers and peers than that of experts like doctors and dietitians.

"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," said Kristie Sigler, SVP at Fleishman-Hillard, in a statement.

The study, Cart to Kitchen 2013: Slicing Into Moms’ Food Decisions, also found that only one-fourth of moms don’t use any media technology, whether internet related or TV programs, in the kitchen while cooking. Of the three-fourths of moms who use such media while cooking, AllRecipes.com (25 percent), Pinterest (19 percent) and FoodNetwork.com (15 percent) ranked highest. Moms also rely upon 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 emails, considering these are not all ‘foodie’ moms, but everyday meal-preparing moms," said Cooper Munroe, co-founder of TheMotherhood.com.

Other findings from the survey of more than 1,000 moms:

  • The list of desired 2013 food-purchase changes starts with a drive to buy healthier food. More than half started that behavior in 2012 by reducing purchases of snacks, sugar, processed foods, soda and carbohydrates. Forty-nine percent want to buy less processed food in 2013, particularly moms younger than 30;
  • Half of moms are reading more food labels now than they have before. Goals in reading labels include consuming less high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial dyes and gluten;
  • Forty-one percent are looking to be more organized in how they shop, 67 percent want to improve weekly meal planning, 51 percent want to make meals ahead and freeze them, and 33 percent are seeking fewer grocery store trips.

"We know that, overwhelmingly, moms don’t think major brands are relating to them and their unique needs," said Liz Hawks, founding co-chair of Fleishman-Hillard’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."

How has the internet, social media and foodie culture changed how meal planning is conducted in America? What does this mean for how brands and retailers should connect with food preparers in American households?

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6 Comments on "Study: Meal Planning Influenced by Foodie Bloggers/Peers"

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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

The internet, social media and food shows provide a wealth of information to moms and dads. Brands need to connect with consumers through an array of media by providing information on their products and suggestions on how those products can be used. This information, coupled with a willingness to engage in a dialogue with consumers, demonstrate a customer-focused mentality, one that consumers appreciate.

As to the F-H study, I caution that what consumers say they are going to do, and what they actually do are often worlds apart, especially when the study is about eating habits in the new year.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

My concern would be whether shoppers are really changing their habits or are they just saying they are changing. Most research in the past (in the US) suggests they are just saying it.

That said, the simplest way to connect with food preparers is on-package. Social media is so diffuse that the odds of hitting a large number of preparers is pretty small. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep on trying, with your own websites and social media pages, but broadcast in the widest sense may still be the best avenue.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

The internet, social media and foodie culture make the issues around food preparation more fun. Despite appliances and cool gadgets, for most home cooks, real cooking and the gathering of ingredients is still a chore. Having “peer” groups that they can interact with and that can provide fun, inspiration, insight and unique forms of help (like where-to-buy) and the potential for bi-directional social dynamics, can clearly make cooking more enjoyable/meaningful. While the kids are watching TV or playing digital games, the cook (likely the mom) is left doing the work. The ability to share the experience, get help, and learn or share something new is powerful—way more powerful than a doctor who hands out some nutritional guidelines and says to lose 10 lbs. before the next follow-up.

Liz Hawks’ statement is hugely insightful for brands that are willing to break from business as usual and see new opportunities in the huge valley between outbound marketing and sterile medical advice on nutrition.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
4 years 9 months ago

Thanks to the Food Network in great part, America has become fascinated and passionate about food over the last 15 years. Social and other media including magazines and the web have only built on this momentum. Brands need to catch up and get included in the ever growing foodie culture.

Ideas for retailers and CPG’s include:

  • Work with national restaurant chains to get incorporated into great meals that they serve. Example: Instead of a PL biscuit served at Applebee’s why not make it a Pillsbury biscuit and include a coupon and recipe with each receipt.
  • Create a library of fun and family friendly (healthy and easy to make) recipes on your web site or even better get them included on a foodie web site or blog.
  • Create a 30 minute show on the Food Network that highlights your brands. Example: Jimmie Dean could run a series on exciting, healthy and hearty meals using their meat items.
  • Fewer ingredients in every item
  • Make sure you can pronounce every ingredient
  • Take High Fructose sugar out
Bernice Hurst
BrainTrust

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, which is touched on in the intro, today’s mothers are not the same people as the mothers who may have been surveyed a few years (or more) ago. We are talking not just about different attitudes, but different people whose upbringing and age are different to those surveyed in the (distant or even near) past. It is not simply attitudes and behaviour that have changed, but people.

Frank Beurskens
Guest
4 years 9 months ago

I agree with Max’s cautionary note regarding the spread between what consumers say they are going to do and what they actually do. In the past twelve months across ShoptoCook’s In-store Interactive Meal Planning Network, shoppers in the aisle browsed over 65 million recipes—among the top 10 categories were Desserts #2, Lite Desserts #5, 300 Calories or Less #8.

One hypothesis is shoppers manage meal planning as a portfolio; while healthy is a factor, healthy balances the luscious, sweet, caloric laden delights that are also a part of many family’s “meal portfolio.”

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