Marketing strategies are often used to promote food and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and/or salt to children. This can undermine parents’ efforts to develop healthy habits.  Last month’s edition of the Healthy Drinks Insider was about online marketing.  In this issue, we are going to explore marketing in the grocery store.

Most adults can relate to the experience of having a small child “pester” them at the grocery store to  buy a specific item.  Research has shown that kids do have significant influence on household purchases.  So how does this occur?  Let’s consider a few ways.

Children first learn about different brands of food and drinks through TV and online ads.  By using child-friendly characters, collectables, and/or competitions, they spark interest in the product.  Then at the grocery store, a combination of colorful and playful packaging, and strategic placement (such as the lower shelves and near the check-out) is used to get kids’ attention.  Finally, to make it easier for parents to make the purchase, these items are often on sale.

A recent study found that these tactics are often used for two products that contain added sugar, children’s breakfast cereal and fruit-flavored drinks.

So, what can parents do?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Involve kids in planning meals and making the shopping list. This can be a fun way for them to begin learning about food and nutrition.
  • If you can’t leave your kids at home while you shop, give them a hearty snack beforehand and take a full reusable water bottle with you.
  • Avoid in-store marketing altogether by ordering your groceries online for curbside pick-up or delivery. This may also help reduce unplanned impulse purchases.

Visit MyPlate for more shopping tips and tools.

We are going to complete our series on marketing next month with an issue about quick service restaurants.

Do you have suggestions for a topic for our newsletter? If so, we would love to hear from you. Write to We will send you a free healthy drink recipe book for your suggestions!

This article was written and reviewed by Rethink Your Drink Nevada’s team of nutrition and dietetic professionals.

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