It’s a typical Tuesday evening at Jackie’s house in Madison, Wisc. Jackie, 36, is watching her daughter, Lucy, 6 ,and son, James, 5, push their dinner around their plates. “Why aren’t you eating? Jackie asks. “Because you make the same thing all the time. Can’t we have something different for dinner?” Lucy asks.
Jackie isn’t alone. According to our recent survey, the number one meal-time challenge faced by women is boredom. Yes, boredom. Not cost or lack of time. Those are lower on the list. Women are bored and their families are bored with their meals.
The same survey uncovered some surprising insights about food including snacking, social media and influences on food purchases. These insights reveal opportunities for brands to step up their efforts to engage and win with female shoppers.
Food Study Key Insights:
1. Boredom (50%) is the #1 meal-time challenge faced by women, followed by varying tastes among family members (43%); cost of ingredients (42%) and lack of ideas for cooking healthy, good-tasting food (41%); conflicting schedules (30%); and lack of meal prep time (27%).
2. Guilty pleasures are enjoyed across all age groups, but millennials indulge with many more guilty pleasures (candy, chocolate, ice cream etc.) vs. other age groups. The item that remains a "guilty pleasure" favored across generations is ice cream.
3. Social Media: Food is a very popular topic on social: a large majority (74%) of women post or share food-related content on social media. Recipes (61%) are the most heavily shared type of content.
4. Women visit #1 Pinterest and #2 Facebook for meal inspiration i.e., recipe ideas and discovery. They turn to Instagram to show off their creations.
5. Influence on Purchase: The opinions of family and friends are most influential when women are deciding to purchase particular foods: 50% of women say family/friend opinions are very influential, following by 38% saying reviews by consumers like themselves and 38% saying information on product packaging is what they pay attention to. Least influential? Celebrity endorsements (with 73% of women say they are not influential at all) and advertising.
Food Opportunities Revealed:
1. Women are willing to make the time to prepare good food, but need tastier recipes (especially for healthy food), more ideas, and suggestions for pleasing different palates in one meal as lack of appeal is a bigger issue than lack of time. Brands can provide customers with recipes in a variety of formats, including video, as well as platforms, including Pinterest. A full 78% of respondents said that they visited food brand’s social pages in order to find recipes and tips.
2. Since boredom is such an issue, the response to boredom is just as challenging. What are the options? Takeout? Order in? A major opportunity exists for brands to make their food interesting and exciting to target customers. Drilling deeper in the survey, women tell us that what they crave from brands are product tips and tricks/recipes.
3. As for influencing purchase, brands should consider soliciting consumer product reviews from brands and prompt customers to share their love for their brand/product with their friends and family through a variety of medium including social media.
4. Sample It! Women said that a positive experience with a sample (50%) is most likely to prompt purchase. Brands should consider targeted sampling in order to get tasty samples into the hands of bored consumers “looking for food inspiration." Coupons also inspire sampling. In fact, 83% of surveyed respondents said that they visit food brand social pages in order to get access to coupons and discounts.
Also worth noting is that there are many opportunities for brands to distinguish themselves on social: only 10% of women feel that any particular brand is doing a better job of engaging them than any other. With food continuing to be a popular topic on social for women of all ages, food marketers can distinguish themselves on social by actively engaging, encouraging more sharing and providing more ideas for them to chew on.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Oct. 12, 2015, in Marketing:CPG.