Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Tweaking ads to show cooking with kids makes brands relatable

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Images of mom preparing dinner alone in the kitchen for her busy family have been a staple in food and beverage marketing for decades, but new consumer research from the Benenson Strategy Group suggests brands that continue to recycle this theme are missing the mark with modern families and their sales could suffer as a result. 

The survey of more than 1,000 US adults found a whopping 72% said that on any given week they cook with their kids, which BSG managing partner Danny Franklin notes is a “pretty strong majority.” He also notes that a lucky 31% of parents said they ate something in the last week that their child made for them.

These findings are significant because they connect back to the overall trends of children wanting simpler foods, which parents sometimes describe as natural or transparent, and it explains why parents are cooking differently for their children than their parents did for them growing up, Franklin said.

He also noted that not many brands are tapping into this idea of cooking together, which he sees as a significant missed marketing opportunity.

“It is not something I have seen anyone really positioning [their products] around this lifestyle that is not parents providing for their kids but preparing food with their kids. I think that is a very different way of thinking about meal time and family meal time, and that it is a true representation of how a lot of households are making dinner,” he said. “And I think that is a really fertile opportunity for companies.”

But this idea is exactly what the new baking mix brand Foodstirs is founded on, explained Greg Fleishman, who co-founded the company along with Galit Laibow and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Fleishman explains how the concept for the company came about out of a desire to recreate nostalgic childhood memories, but without sacrificing high quality standards in order to fit baking with family into busy schedules.

He explained the trio wanted to create foods that were convenient, tasted amazing, were fun to prepare and still made from the purest ingredients on the planet that also were sourced ethically and sustainably.

“It seemed like such a ‘duh’ thing, by the way. It was really an idea hiding in plain sight,” he said.

Just as Foodstirs is bringing an updated, modern twist to a classic CPG category, it is also taking a new approach to marketing by ditching the image of mom or dad cooking solo in favor of marketing not just a way to get food on the table more easily, but a positive experience parents can share with children.

“For us it is so important that it be about a collaboration of togetherness, so the marketing that we do will typically involve parents and their children baking out of the kitchen,” which represents the company’s target consumer, he said.

While Foodstirs markets a product that promises to be fun for the whole family, Fleishman was quick to point out that the company’s advertising efforts are aimed squarely at caretakers and not children.

Uncle Ben’s Beginners encourages families to cook together

Similarly, Uncle Ben’s is targeting parents with a message to involve their children more in the kitchen. One way it is doing this through its Ben’s Beginners program, which launched in 2012 and claims to have motivated thousands of families to cook together.

To further support Ben’s Beginners, Uncle Ben’s for the past six years has hosted a cooking contest, which is running currently through Oct. 9 and aims to harness the power of social media and which actress and cookbook author Tiffani Theissen teamed with the brand to promote.

She explained that families can enter by snapping a picture of themselves cooking with Uncle Ben’s rice and five luck winners will receive $15,000 cash and an additional $30,000 for a cafeteria makeover for their school, which Theissen pointed out “is so amazing because I know a lot of schools across the country could use a makeover in many different areas.”

She added that the values represented by the contest and brand are especially important “right now in our country when there is so much turmoil and, you know, it is just kind of nice to know that family is all about love and being together and making moments.”

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