Whey ingredients scored highly on preference. 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. Alpha-lactalbumin and whey protein hydrolysates were also popular, both scoring 31%. OPN, phospholipids and MFGM scored 28%, 28% and 25% respectively.
Manel Romeu Belles, global industry marketing manager for paediatric & medical nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “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.”
High quality (87%), health benefits (83%), product brand reputation and clinically documented ingredients (both 75%) topped the list of product characteristics most important to mothers worldwide. 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 added: “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”. He continued “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, specialised ingredients that can bring infant formula closer to breastmilk.”
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.