The highly successful Eat Them to Defeat campaign proves that there are ways to market fruits and vegetables to kids and get them to actually consume them.
But at store level, it has been more of a challenge. No matter how appealing displays can be, parents and their children are still not purchasing enough fresh produce.
Lidl GB may have found a hook that works. With the Oaklands Funsize fruit and veg range, branded six years ago, it has seen sales jump by one third. So, what has been the attraction? It is the packaging, and a bit more than that. While there are cartoon characters and unusual names like Banana-Llamas and Tawny Tomatowl, Lidl doesn’t stop there. It has contests to name them, engaging kids beyond the simple act of eating them.
But what it also found through the years is that consumers are being confused by what is healthy and what isn’t. More than 65% of parents say that they have difficulties in purchasing healthy items because of the unhealthy ones aimed at children in stores. Cartoon characters do appear on fresh items but also on some of the most cringeworthy food products targeting kids. In order for kids to truly eat healthy, Lidl contends, supermarkets must be clear in the mission to help them achieve that goal.
Lidl, in fact, is removing all cartoon characters on “unhealthy products” by next Spring (except during Halloween, Christmas and Easter). That includes items such as chocolates, Sweet Fruit Chews, Multicolored Fizzy Belts and anything deemed sweets that are currently marketed to kids. During the pandemic, it eliminated their presence on cereal boxes.
“We hope other supermarkets follow in our footsteps so that, as a sector, we can be confident we’re doing all we can to support parents in helping to improve the diets of the next generation,” Peter de Roos, Chief Commercial Officer at Lidl GB said.
Although health advocates continue to push the five-a-day narrative, British consumers are not close to hitting those daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables. Lidl says grocery store chains have a role to play. One of them is to look beyond initiatives such as price discounting to see how they are pitching products to kids.
“Our ambition is to make high quality, healthy food accessible to all, and the principal way we achieve this is through our best value prices,” de Roos said. “But we also recognise that there are other barriers in place, particularly concerning children, and parents are telling us that unhelpful packaging is one of them. This is something that’s so simple for us supermarkets to change, and our results show the positive impact that these small changes can make.”
One of its most successful campaigns, created by kids, was Koala Pears. Lidl sold an additional 250,000 units just 12 months after it launched.