The Family Way: How Does the Presence of Children Affect the Response to Lockdown?

Lockdown is turning the sourcing and consumption of food and drink on its head for households all over the country. This week we’ve focused on one demographic group: families. Here we tease out the key behavioural and attitudinal differences noted during quarantine, between households with and without children.

1. Less Channel loyal

Families are visiting a greater number of channels than households without children. Consumers with children visit an average of 3.2 different channels every week, compared to 2.5 channels for those without children.

Unsurprisingly, the three most popular channels – supermarkets, convenience stores and discounters - remain the same. Of the three, convenience represents the highest over-index for families, presenting the biggest opportunity to target this group. So, how can c-store retailers best appeal to families? Their most preferred categories compared to the average convenience shopper are in-store bakery, chilled dairy and soft drinks.

We can also clearly see that households with children are also more likely to use convenient solutions such as online supermarkets and meal delivery services.

2. Online is winning more of their meal occasions

When we dissect the channel behaviours for families split by dayparts, we see a more nuanced picture develop. These consumers might be visiting in-store environments such as supermarkets more frequently, but when it comes to the share of their meals sourced from each channel then online is the clear winner. Looking at lunch and dinner, shoppers with dependent children are +3% more likely to have sourced the bulk of their meal from an online delivery. This jumps to +20% when comparing the likelihood to have bought snacks online.  

This suggests that many families are stocking up on their main weekly groceries and snacks through the online retailers and popping out to supermarkets to top up.

What can other channels learn from online? Bigger packs! Households with children are buying a full weekly shop to feed the whole family, to save too many additional trips. 55% of households with children agree that “during the Coronavirus outbreak, I have been wanting to buy larger pack sizes of products” vs. 41% of households without children. The top three categories they would like to see bigger packs of are pasta (43%), rice (32%), and crisps and snacks (30%).

3. Snacks are more important

Family households are stocking up on snacks. 57% of consumers with children in their household have consumed a snack within the last 24 hours, +7pp higher than child-free households. As we reported recently, nearly half of UK consumers admitted to snacking more in the last few weeks compared to before lockdown and families are no exception! Those households with children are more likely to have increased their consumption of packaged grocery (+13%), crisps and snacks (+10%) and soft drinks (+9%) compared to their child-free counterparts.

What’s the opportunity? The evidence is mounting for multipacks and sharing formats within this snack occasion. Households with children have more mouths to feed and are also seeing increased personal consumption in this expandable category. Delivering the quantity they need in the first instance will reduce their need to go elsewhere to top up. Convenience stores may therefore want to expand their range of larger packs to capture a greater share of the snack occasion.


Insight reports featured in this article

UK Recovery Report 2020

Business implications for grocery and hospitality market stakeholders


Your question, our expertise

Using our Channel Pulse data, we are able to answer your shopper and consumer trends questions across all UK food and drink channels. Submit your question here and one of our experts will be in touch to help you answer it.