BACKGROUND: Faced with an extensive array of various children’s multi-nutrient supplements, all with their ‘unique’ properties and formulation, mothers are expected to select one that best meets their children’s needs. Little research has been done to identify the factors women use to select a particular multi-nutrient supplement for their children.
AIM: To establish which factors influence women’s decisions most often when selecting children’s multi-nutrient supplements, what choice tactics are used in the decision-making process, and into what groups women can be classified according to the factors used to select specific brands.
SETTING: A point-of-purchase survey was conducted among 128 women who were interviewed in large discount pharmacies once they had selected a children’s multi-nutrient supplement with the intention of buying it.
RESULSTS: Women who purchased multi-nutrient supplements for their children were mostly working, white women, between the ages of 34 to 49 years, and were in general educated and affluent. Subjects were influenced by 12 factors [form (91%), nutrient content (80%), child’s preference (69%), packaging (50%), price (39%), health benefits (38%), advice from others (38%), free from certain ingredients (28%), organic or natural properties (21%), herbal content (18%), advertisements (14%), and promotions (14%)]. Form had the greatest influence on the decision to purchase. Forms that were most popular were chewable tablets (50%) and liquid/syrups (35%). Price, performance and brand loyalty, affect and normative factors were most often used as choice tactics. Women were classified into four groups (quality shopper/information gatherer, bargain shopper, convenience shopper and child-sensitive shopper).
CONCLUSION: Many women spend time and effort gathering information about children’s multi-nutrient supplements. However, less appropriate factors are often considered in decision making and labels are not interpreted correctly. To show competence in the field of prescribing children’s dietary supplements, dieticians ought to be aware of the supplement choices available and determine which factors play a role in a client’s decision to purchase a particular brand, e.g. free from certain ingredients, and what form their children would prefer, e.g. syrup. Once this has been determined, and after having assessed the child’s usual dietary intake, the dietician can identify the most appropriate
dietary supplement in a particular supplement-delivery category.