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Parents Seek Healthy Ways to Send the Kids Back to School

Thursday, July 02, 2009

posted by Guest Blogger: Heather Dougherty, Research Director at Hitwise

School doors have barely shut for the summer, yet the Back to School season is almost upon us once again. One of the big challenges facing parents is making sure that kids are eating healthy lunches and snacks – especially for the picky kids that frown upon fruits and vegetables. Resolutions for the New Year always drive a spike in search activity in January, but we also see an uptick in searches for ‘healthy snacks’ during the Back to School season as can be seen here from Google Trends.

Digging deep into search behavior:

How can we be confident that parents are indeed searching for healthy snacks for their kids and not for themselves? Upon looking at the top 10 search terms containing the words 'healthy snacks', half of them include the term 'kid; or 'school', a strong indicator that parents look to the web for help in figuring out what to feed their children.

Hitwise investigates deeper into the search terms containing 'healthy snacks for kids':

In addition to snack & lunch ideas, search queries highlight that parents are also seeking help for events like birthday parties, football games and other group activities. Today most parents are faced with tighter shopping budgets along with the challenges of providing a healthy diet. At Hitwise, we have observed that visits to websites offering coupons increased 39% for the week ending June 20, 2009 as compared to the previous year. Together these trends showcase that marketers should be providing offerings that combine healthy eating with cost-savings with group activities.

Where are the clicks going to?

When seeking help in planning healthy snacks, during the last Back to School season, 38% of searchers turned to websites in the Health & Medical category in Sept 2008, particularly 'Information and Wellbeing'.

A closer look at the Industries that received traffic from the search term ‘healthy snacks’ reveals that 'Blogs and Personal Websites' experienced the most significant growth, up 11% from Sept 2007. This indicates how consumers are now looking beyond just health websites but to other consumers like themselves for advice around healthy snacking. We think an opportunity then exists for brands to get their messages about a new healthy product in front of consumers in a blog environment. We even see that Brands & Manufacturers also experienced an increase of +0.66% from the same time frame one year ago.

We speculate that there will be an increase in clicks to brand websites this coming school season since many brands now incorporate both the Health aspect of a product as well as the viral element of blogging or voicing opinions on their sites - the best of both worlds.

If consumers display willingness to visit the websites of Brands and Manufacturers during the quest for food solutions, are there opportunities through paid search to attract these parents? Among those searches for ‘healthy snacks’, the share of paid traffic generated by all variations of 'healthy snacks' was 12% for the 12 weeks ending September 28, 2008, indicating plenty of room for healthy competition for this keyword amongst marketers during the Back to School season.

For additional search driven insights from Hitwise, please visit