How Much Do You Know About the Market Potential of WIC?

By Jim Legg, Executive Vice President of Leadership and Integration

 “Slightly more than one out of every two infants born in the U.S. participates in the WIC Program”, according to a March 2010 U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Improving Children’s Health: Strengthening Federal Child Nutrition Programs.  As a result of their financial circumstances and improper nutritional practices, mothers do not consume the essential foods needed to deliver a healthy baby, nor are they able to properly nourish their infants and young children needed for their growth.  Poor nutrition during the first five years has long term affects on the child’s health and development for its entire life, and consequently has repercussions on the American healthcare system. 

The federally subsidized, state-run program known as WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) exists in order to provide nutritious foods, nutrition education, and referrals to health and other social services to mothers and children at no charge. 

Hispanics represent 42% of the total U.S. WIC participants.  Not only is a great majority of the WIC consumer base multicultural, but overall in the United States, minorities have become the majority in the top 20 markets, to date. 

“Brands with WIC contracts or are WIC eligible have the advantage at retail, and potentially produce a ‘WIC Effect’”, said George L. San Jose, COO & President of The San Jose Group, whose client list includes a leading baby formula brand in the U.S.  “Since WIC contracts and eligibility increase the likelihood of more retail shelf space, the brand has greater exposure and increased consideration among WIC and non-WIC consumers.  However, this does not guarantee a lift in sales if the brand does not understand multicultural consumers in general, and how to strategically market their products with the appropriate in-language, culturally relevant marketing”.

San Jose adds that, “Each state-run WIC program has an authorized list that recognizes certain brands.  Savvy marketers of these brands can leverage other WIC eligible and WIC friendly products to cross sell within or outside of their portfolio”.  

The San Jose Group has successfully brought WIC contract, WIC eligible and WIC friendly brands together for cross promotions to target multicultural consumers.  For more information about this topic please email sjgpr@sjadv.com. For more information about the San Jose Group please visit www.sanjosegroup.com/main.html

 

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance Report, 2008.  http://www.cdc.gov/pednss/pdfs/PedNSS_2008.pdf

WIC Participant and Program Characteristics. Food and Nutrition Service, 2008. http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/MENU/Published/WIC/FILES/pc2008.pdf

Improving Children’s Health: Strengthening Federal Child Nutrition Programs, 2010 http://www.calwic.org/storage/documents/federal/2010/kirantestimony.pdf

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