Kids’ stuff8 September 2011
Investment in child-centred design pays off, discovers Joanne Hunter
The reality is that while the parents do the spending it’s often the offspring who are dictating where the money goes.
Despite the growing attention being paid to the world’s ageing population, children remain a significant consumer group that cannot be overlooked. According to Leatherhead Food Research, children aged between five and 14 represent around 9-12% of the total population in Western Europe and they have specific demands when it comes to food and drink, requiring a unique approach to marketing and product development.
Children’s foods have come under the spotlight in the wake of the debate over obesity levels in young people. The need to provide healthier, more nutritious food choices for children – and make them appealing – is exercising the minds of brand marketers.
A desire to see children eating better food led Paul Lindley to found Ella’s Kitchen, and the packaging has proved crucial to the brand’s success, he says.
“Ella is my 11-year-old daughter and I set up Ella’s Kitchen because I passionately believe that she, along with her generation, should have the opportunity to eat better food and also to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty and cool.
“We think it’s important to always approach things from a child’s point of view. So, we’ve taken simple, natural ingredients that ooze goodness and created baby foods, and packaging, that should really connect with kids - with flavours, colours, textures and even names that will appeal to all of their senses.”
Understanding how to effectively reach an ever-changing young target audience is crucial to obtaining the financial returns expected from their investment, says Bryan Urbick, CEO and chairman of the Consumer Knowledge Centre and author of About Kids: Foods and Beverages, published by Leatherhead Press. Urbick has undertaken unique research on young children in the USA related to brand characters, and he tells Packaging Today: “Even though the children’s market represents just under 20% of the population in Europe (and slightly higher in North America), it is interesting to note that as their percentage of the population decreases, their influence actually increases. These consumers of the future are already getting brand managers quite hot under the collar when it comes to understanding what best motivates them to choose a specific brand over another; one pack from the next.”
“The use of licensed or brand characters is probably one of the most common ways of reaching out to young children (up to around 8 years of age), yet research has demonstrated that iconic characters need to go well beyond mere recognition to be truly effective. It is all very well creating a colourful brand character, but marketers need to first and foremost develop meaningful stories that connect the brand values, personality and message with said character. It is also important that they are aware that children aspire to be older than their years, so will often dismiss a brand because the character could be deemed too baby-ish. Team this with the fact that kids, by their very nature, are neophobic (afraid of ‘new’), and it is little wonder the children’s market can appear hard to crack.”
Urbick has pinpointed what makes a branded character stand out from the rest: it is all about storytelling. The best examples make kids want to reach out and interact with a product versus merely cast a glance at it, his research team concluded.
“Creating that vital emotional connection was all about the type of adventures a brand character was having. It was through this layered story-completion project that Consumer Knowledge Centre (CKC) uncovered a child’s real draw to the actual adventure a brand character was having and how this linked back to the product. Interestingly, the work also uncovered the need for a ‘bad’ character to interact with their favourite ‘good’ character.
“Of course, once the brand character is honed or given new life then it is all about how he or she should appear on the pack. The most prolific (and the least effective) use is ‘logo slap’, which is when the brand character is literally just slapped on the pack.
“A somewhat less brash way of using a brand character is when it is used for a particular promotional reason (when a film is released, for example: see box story) and often have some give-away that is character/property-related.”
“Then we have the character-affected products that occur when packaging or product shape is changed, or the character is clearly evident on/in the product. Good examples are Lego Fruit snacks in North America (using the iconic Lego shape), and Thomas the Tank Engine pasta in the UK and Colgate’s toothbrushes that have the character-shaped handles.”
This suggests that clear packaging and windows are important for attracting the attention of parents and children, alike. Summing up, Urbick says: “The more enthusiastic and emotionally connected a child is with a character, the more interested they are to try out new products, even becoming brand ambassadors.”
The astuteness of children cannot be under-estimated: “Marketers should aim to avoid the ‘logo slap’ and promotional categories if they want the best and most enduring use of their licensed or brand characters. Equally, understanding how to effectively reach an ever-changing young target audience is crucial to obtaining the financial returns expected from their investment.”
New brand characters
An owl character has been recruited to sell Pure Beginnings, an organic personal care brand designed for babies and young children. It was recently introduced into John Lewis department stores in the UK - the first ever export market for the South African brand.
Bruce Moore-Gordon, co-founder of the brand, which includes Baby Bum Cream, says: “When developing the visuals for Pure Beginnings, we wanted a look that would appeal to mothers and children, and boys and girls.”
He continues: “We decided on Ollie the Organic Owl as a concept. The owl is universally, and in African folklore, a symbol of wisdom and education, so it conveys a message to parents as the wise, or educated choice when choosing a product to use on your child.”
The South African packaging suppliers for Pure Beginnings include Rap International Products for the bottles, Consupaq for the tubes and tubs, First Impression Labels for the Labels, and Fuel Design Emporia for the label design.
UV flexo printed aluminium lids from Chadwicks with a special coextruded sealing layer that make lids an easier peel have been used for a chicken-based snack called Rippa Dippa, on sale in the UK.
“In the crowded market it’s important to ensure a product appeals to your target customer in both a visual and functional way – and nowhere is this truer than in the highly competitive children’s snacks market,” Derek Benjamin, Chadwicks sales manager, tells Packaging Today.
“Snacks designed for this consumer group must have joint appeal for children and parents, and as such, it can be argued, must work harder than products in other sectors in order to encourage new buyers.
He continues: “Children can be one of the hardest audiences in which to secure brand loyalty, so it’s important to grab their attention in the very first moments of product interaction. If a child struggles to open a snack, he or she can very quickly become frustrated and may well abandon that product, which highlights the need for easy to open packaging.
“As part of the growing demand for convenient, long-lasting lunchbox products, we developed the innovative co-extruded sealing layer for the Rippa Dippa snack box to provide a smooth and easy removal which maintains a steadfast air-tight seal on the product until it is purposefully removed.
“By utilising lid technology to its best advantage, packaging manufacturers can create an initial positive interaction between consumer and product which can stimulate investment in that brand even in difficult markets such as children’s snacks.”
Chadwicks also created the lids for Benjoy Nutrition’s ‘anti-spill’ snacks. Newly revamped packaging includes labelled pots by Intelpack and multipack sleeves, boxes and shelf-ready packaging from Alexir.
First Milk’s Dairy Maniacs brand launched Cheddar Stix, as part of a licence agreement with film giant DreamWorks Animation, to promote the summer 2011 movie, Kung Fu Panda 2. Each pack contains six 20g finger-shaped portions of mild, white Cheddar, to be suitable for snacking or lunchboxes.
The portion film is 52 micron gloss film and the bag film is 50 micron gloss film, both flexo printed by Bemis UK. The case is E-flute is flexo printed by Saica pack UK.
Pure Beginnings chose the â€˜wiseâ€™ owl to sell the brand to children and parents Pure Beginnings Chadwicksâ€™ lid provides a smooth and easy removal and maintains an air-tight seal until opened. Chadwicks Benjoy's 'anti-spill' Munchcup snack Benjoy's Dairy Maniacs Cheddar Stix bag is flexo printed by Bemis UK Cheddar Stix