Well-aware mums pay more for healthy formula

By Nikki Cutler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Image Source
Getty | Image Source
Mothers are happy to pay more and change brands for infant formulas with the right ingredients and health benefits, research shows.

Arla Foods Ingredients commissioned YouGov to survey 5,658 mothers in seven different countries. When asked what product characteristics were most important to them, high quality (87%), health benefits (83%), product brand reputation and clinically documented ingredients (both 75%) topped the list, while price (52%) was the least important.

When asked which health benefits would influence their decision to buy a particular product, nearly nine in ten (87%) chose “supports healthy growth”. The next most important health benefits were “helps child’s immune system” (86%), gut comfort (85%) and cognitive development (82%).

The research also showed that mothers shop around for formula – only 27% of respondents had never switched brands. Mothers in the UK were the most brand-loyal and those in China and Indonesia, the least.

Manel Romeu Belles, global industry marketing manager for Paediatric & Medical Nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “Although there are some differences between countries, there are also many common themes worldwide. The most important of these are the prioritization of quality over price and a focus on health benefits.

 “With only just over a quarter of mothers never switching brands, there is an opportunity for manufacturers to increase customer loyalty. One of the avenues to achieve that could be by launching products containing high-quality, specialized ingredients that can bring infant formula closer to breast milk.”

Ingredient intelligence

When asked whether they knew about specific ingredients, lactose topped the list – recognised by 66% of mothers – followed by probiotics (63%).

Ingredients from whey were also widely known about, with nearly half of respondents (46%) aware of whey proteins, 32% aware of whey protein hydrolysates and 31% aware of phospholipids.

A substantial 29% were aware of alpha-lactalbumin and 20% knew of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) and 16% were even aware of osteopontin (OPN).

Nearly four in ten of the mothers (38%) said they would prefer a product that contained whey proteins, with this figure rising to 55% in China.

Belles added: “This research provides valuable insights into the consumer behaviour of Generation X and Millennial mothers buying infant and baby formula.

“One of the key findings, for us and for formula manufacturers, is that high numbers of mothers globally not only recognise whey-derived ingredients, but also have a preference for products that contain them. This is particularly true of China, the world’s largest infant formula market.”

Alpha-lactalbumin and whey protein hydrolysates were also found to be popular ingredients, both scoring 31%. OPN, phospholipids and MFGM scored 28%, 28% and 25% respectively.

Research background

A total of 5,658 mothers and mothers-to-be were interviewed in France, South Korea, China, the UK, the USA, Germany and Indonesia. All were aged 18-45, had children up to the age of four and were educated to college level.

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