Featured image for Why Food & Drink Brands Must Think Beyond Bouncy Characterization to Win Young Hearts

Why Food & Drink Brands Must Think Beyond Bouncy Characterization to Win Young Hearts

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 05/22/2017 | 6 Minute Read

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By: Ed Silk

Today’s child differs greatly from any other child born in previous generations.

Galvanized by media, empowered by technology, emboldened by a plethora of information and wizened by increasingly more mature parents, children these days are entitled, opinionated and have a stronger sense of independence at an earlier age than ever before. One study showed that, by the time they start school, 70 per cent of children are already adept and confident at using devices such as tablets, smartphones or laptops*. In turn, they are informed, demanding—and want things instantly.

The latest Mintel consumer report** looking into children’s behavioral trends concludes that children are growing older, faster and at a younger age. Welcome to the so-called era of the “empowered kid.” Collectively, they are spirited, autonomous and sophisticated consumers seeking instant gratification. They reject the traditionally “naive” in favor of interactive items, boundary-pushing games, engaging products and clever media that are more reflective of the adult world.

Brands marketing to this youthful, smart and curious demographic can no longer talk down to them. Instead they should encourage play with a subtle educational angle using multi-sensory visual mechanics that emulate adult experiences, while preserving the magic and innocence of childhood.

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Lunch box ready products like the GoGo Squeeze and Ella’s Kitchen pouches combine playful vibrant graphics with tactility, appealing to a child’s natural fascination with touch. Scrunching and squeezing is a particularly satisfying part of product consumption.

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The New York founded Pak’d employs a build-your-own approach with each meal split into four nutritionally balanced segments. Each segment can be clicked together in any combination; accommodating even the fussiest of eaters while still being engaging and fun. The brand even delivers the whole package to your door, elevating convenience for time-poor parents.

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Similarly, the box for Stafidenios Raisins converts into a collectable paper toy instantly with no glue or scissors required, giving respite from technology that children need and parents welcome, while Hubbards kids’ cereal in New Zealand replicates a doodled coloring book aesthetic. When flat packed, this playfulness continues on the inner structure with stencils, games and activities.

Kiddifying adult experiences—like making tea, carrying a handbag or preparing a meal—is also an effective mechanic for capturing the imagination of today’s empowered child.

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Husband and wife team, Lisa and Imrat Sohanpal, are shaking up the kids ready-meal market with their award-winning Nom Noms World Food range. Internationally inspired, the range eschews the traditional shepherd’s pie and lasagna options in favor of tiffins, tagines, laksas and thalis, all formulated to be family-friendly and introduce young palates to more exotic flavors. The meals are nutritionally balanced, with no added salt, sugar or additives and are packed with fruit, vegetables and pulses. The meals themselves are beautifully presented in custom boxes that double up as thali trays, presenting elements of the meal in attractive, bite-sized sections that visually appeal to both adults and children.   

Wat-aah! is also a strong example of how packaging design can incentivize children to try healthier meals, snacks and drink more water. The bold packaging graphics and brand identity subtly communicate its purified, sugar-free wares infused with nutrients such as magnesium, oxygen and electrolytes in way that children ‘get’, which neither patronizes or lectures them.

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In the snacking aisle, Bear—purveyors of fruity shaped nibbles for grazing—have a stripped-back yet colorful brand identity. They’ve avoided a sense of artificiality and synthetic nastiness often associated with bright colors by using a simple yet iconic bear cut out design and visual cues that underscore natural flavor and goodness. The overall effect is contemporary and clean without being cartoonish, giving it both adult and child appeal.

For brands striving to break into the market and attract the attention of the smart, excitable and easily bored child, building a product and brand identity that encourages self-expression, simulates grown-up experiences and satisfies their innate curiosity of the world around them will go a long way in driving loyalty and love for a brand in both modern child and parent.

* Survey of parents conducted by ITV’s Tonight programme, 2013**’Kids Growing Older, Younger’, Mintel Report, 2009


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Ed SilkStrategy Director, Bulletproof

As Strategy Director, Ed is responsible for driving the brand, design, and innovation strategies that Bulletproof create for clients. Central to this is framing the business problems that clients face in a clear and inspirational way for the design team to understand and action, ensuring the best creative and commercially successful solutions are delivered in line with the brief. Ed is also responsible for applying and tailoring Bulletproof’s own strategic tools to individual projects.

Previously to Bulletproof, Ed worked for Pearlfisher, Interbrand and Coley Porter Bell where he honed his expertise in brand strategy and worked with a wide range of influential and international clients including: Green & Black’s, SAB Miller, Absolut, Unilever, Hays Recruitment, Musgrave (Supervalu, Centra, Londis, Budgens), Nissan (Infiniti), P&G, Rio Tinto, The Co-operative, Pernod Ricard, Nestlé and John West.

Outside of work Ed has a variety of interests from reading, film and architecture to travel, cars and fashion, all of which feed into his role at Bulletproof. In particular, Ed’s interest in behavioural economics informs his role in harnessing design to help persuade people to engage with one brand over another.

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