Unlocking the New Family Meal: Evolving Solutions for Modern Families

It's two hours before dinnertime. Most parents don't yet know what's for dinner. With limited time and resources -- and family schedules that often don't align, parents are trying to balance their nutritional goals and food budget with convenience and taste.


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Back in the day, family meal time fit into nice little compartments -- like breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Meals (except for lunch) were mostly consumed at home, with mom doing the work. And for dinner, the entire family gathered around the table to eat and -- just as importantly -- discuss their day.

But for many households today, mealtime is drastically different. The family is splintered by competing and filled schedules and priorities.


  • Reveal the stress points around feeding the family and how these stressors differ for each meal (including snacks) and for parents vs. kids
  • Determine where parents discover solutions for mealtime needs and what influenced them to adopt these solutions
  • Understand which family-food solutions have proved successful for parents and which haven’t
  • Evaluate family-food priorities and how parents make trade-offs in feeding the family
  • Identify different family archetypes in order to match your product to your consumers


With the traditional "family meal" long gone for most modern families, it's critical to understand the different ways in which families currently approach meal-planning in order to identify differing strategies and solutions to meet their needs. From grocery-shopping and lunch-packing to fast-casual and the frozen aisle, this research will reveal families' biggest pain-points. This work will look at each food occasion, revealing tactical and strategic solutions for food brands, retailers, and restaurants.

Methodology: Qualitative/Quantitative


Qualitative: Digital Diary to Capture Daily Behavior

Capture the circumstances, solutions, and drivers for each meal by each family member
• Mostly open-ended
• Daily entries
• 100 participants for 7 days
• Helps build the quantitative questionnaire
• Identify key answer options for close-ended questions
• Add qualitative input and flavor
• Identify parent-friendly language
• Conducted via Mfour Mobile that allows busy parents to respond via a mobile device
• Panel of 2.5 million recruited via their mobile device
• Native app resides on device
• Participants can respond anywhere via text, photos, and/or video

Qualitative Design

Qualitative Research Target

Ethnicity: Approximates national population distribution

Quantitative Design

Number of Interviews: 3000

Interview Length: 25 minutes

Statistical Analysis:

Anchored Maximum Difference (MaxDiff) exercise to identify relative importance of key selection criteria (e.g., convenience, cost, nutrition, environmental concerns, family bonding, etc.)

Detailed classification questions to allow for analysis by different family archetypes

How Sample will be Segmented:

Online quant survey utilizing one or more of the major U.S. online research panels.

• 3,000 respondents total
• 1,000 respondents assigned to an in-depth survey by each of the three-day parts: breakfast/morning snacks, lunch/afternoon snacks, dinner/evening snacks
• Exploration to reveal pain points and solutions
• Anchored Maximum Difference (MaxDiff) exercise to identify the relative importance of key selection criteria (e.g., convenience, cost, nutrition, environmental concerns, family bonding, etc.)
• Detailed classification questions to allow for detailed analysis by different family types

Quantitative Research Target

Ethnicity: Approximates national population distribution

Additional Demographic Screening:

Both phases of this research will be conducted among a representative U.S. sample meeting the following criteria:

• Parents of at least one child age 3-17 in the household
• Primary or shared responsibility for mealtime
• Mix of parents across age groups, working and non-working, various household incomes, number of children in the household, and a spread of ages for the children

Geography: US Only; Approximates national population distribution


Reporting: Formal Report

Presentation: In-person

Cost for individual on-site presentation:

Additional Deliverables:

Single integrated strategic report
- Combines qualitative diary exercise and quantitative survey
- Art-directed
- Drivers segmentation using Latent Clustering built from the MaxDiff exercise to identify unique parent groups such as Belly Fillers, Emotional Enrichment, Stress Managers, etc.
- Expert review and implications
- Data access on KnowlegeHound

Timing: Available Immediately


Company: Cooper Roberts Research & Maria Bailey

Previous Projects: 2


Supplier's Qualifications:

Ken Roberts, President, Cooper Roberts Research, project lead
- Design, sampling, analysis, project management
- Deep food and retail expertise

Maria Bailey, CEO, BSM Media; subject-matter expert
- Marketing to Moms expert and author
- Sought-after presenter


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