As more kid-centric beverage options come on the scene, the challenge to differentiate one’s brand and stand out among like-minded products intensifies. And that’s where packaging comes in. With that in mind, here are five tips to follow when making a package appealing to kids.
1. Don’t Alienate Half Your Customers – The wildly popular Vita Coco recently launched Vita Coco Kids, which is touted as the only coconut water-based children’s beverage on the market. The Tetra Wedge Aseptic pouch is easy to hold, particularly for smaller hands—boys or girls.
Featuring bright, happy, primary colors, along with cute cartoon characters and riddles, Vita Coco Kids is catching eyes from national retailers like Wegmans and Target. “One of the most important things in creating packaging that appeals to children is keeping [it] gender neutral,” says Arthur Gallego, spokesperson, Vita Coco Kids. “In addition to their parents, boys and girls can relate equally to the beach and the tropics.”
2. Know Your Demographic – Youthopia’s Alley Oop went through some minor cosmetic changes as its place in the marketplace took shape. Initially, the shrink sleeve on the 16 oz. PET bottle featured generic images of athletes, but the company soon noticed that not only were kids drinking it, but older people were, too.
“We took some of those elements off because we got good responses, even from the older people, which we considered a fringe part of our target,” says Greg Erickson, vice president of advertising. “But we didn’t want to alienate people who liked the beverage, either. So our target [was] teens, tweens, but we’re not really targeting below that.”
So the company featured the name more prominently, which leads eyes to their clear side panels, showcasing the beverage.
3. Be Unique, Recognizable, and Fun – When True Drinks purchased the patent for a spherical bottle, Kevin Sherman, CMO, and Robert Van Boerum, VP of Marketing, created the concept of AquaBall Naturally Flavored Water. It wasn’t until they partnered with Disney and Marvel, however, that the brand really took off.
Mining Disney and Marvel’s vast and deep character catalog, these collectible bottles currently feature Disney’s Princess, “Monster’s University,” and “Planes,” as well as Marvel’s “Avengers Assembled.”
“We have access to a broad range of new and evergreen properties,” says Lance Leonard, President and CEO. “We also get to take advantage of cross promotional tie-ins and display locations during movie releases and DVD launches, [as well as] the massive marketing budgets of our licensing partners.”
4. Listen to the Kids – In 2008, Rose Cameron’s two sons, Jack and Luke, began yelling. A lot. “They screamed the word ‘water’ over and over again,” says Cameron, CEO and Founder of WAT-AAH! “When we wrote the name down, we knew that we’ve got a brand.”
Jack, who was nine at the time, had more input as he was older and more opinionated. Still, both boys had a say in all facets of packaging design: the font (Frankfurter, because the letters are fat and resembled hot dogs); the picture of a boy screaming on the label; what the boy on the label wears (a simple T-shirt in different neon colors to match the different flavors); and even the 16.9 oz PET bottle with black caps.
Seeing as her sons were so crucial to WAT-AAH!’s development, Cameron was able to use their friends and classmates as sounding boards in mini focus groups. Even parents tried to convince her to put a girl on one of the bottles, but she knew better. “Our brand has and will always focus on kids,” Cameron says. “If we start approaching moms and create packaging that’s meant to appeal to their sensitivities as parents, we will end up just like others.”
5. But Remember Who Buys – “Even though these are kid’s products, moms and dads are the ones who purchase them,” says Melinda Hicks, President of Big Time Tea. “As a parent, I have an emotional connection to a child’s face.”
Little Me Tea features bright colors and clean lines and, most importantly to Hicks, pictures of real children on the package—even her daughter, Julia, the inspiration behind the beverage.
“I feel like we have a completely different kind of product,” Hicks says. “We needed to stand out more than just putting tea leaves and fruit; we wanted it to be a more wholesome product, and kids’ faces make it more wholesome.”
According to Packaged Facts, the children’s food and beverage market is forecasted for 40 percent growth through 2015. Retail sales of children’s foods and beverages reached $10 billion in 2010, up 25 percent from 2005. And while frozen foods accounted for almost a quarter of the market, beverages were second.
In the increasingly competitive children’s beverage market, players old and new alike would be wise to remember a few things: try to stay gender neutral, respect kids’ opinions, and remember who actually buys the product.
Oh, and if you can align yourself with a hugely popular media entertainment company, that wouldn’t hurt, either.