This pint-sized target group can be the most difficult
consumer to reach – and retain
Kids can be fickle
consumers with beverage preferences that change on a whim. Shelves and cold
cases are filled with bold drink packages designed to woo the kids’
demographic. Are wild colors and graphics a good hook to attract children?
Probably. Will it keep them coming back? Probably not.
“Marketers believe that if they market beverages
to teens, young adults or even families, that the message will trickle down
to kids in an aspirational way,” says Rachel Geller, chief strategic
officer at the Geppetto Group, a firm based in New York City that handles
marketing geared toward children, teens, young adults and moms.
“We’ve done research that shows that theory is absolutely not
true. Most of the time, beverage messages are very extrinsic, highly
image-oriented, and in the end, too conceptual for kids who are concrete
thinkers. All the kids get from it is a superficial message.
“If you’re a larger company that puts a
lot of money into your media, kids get that you’re a leader but they
don’t get the subtle nuances of your message or your positioning and
therefore their connection to those brands is superficial as well.”
Geller suggests beverage companies market directly to
kids in order for them to identify and develop a connection with a brand.
“It’s similar to marketing to ethnic groups,” she says.
“If you are a minority, you feel like companies understand you if you
see advertisements featuring people who look like you and talk like you. If
you don’t have money like Coke and Pepsi that enables you to register
as a leader, you have to be much smarter and more insightful.”
Brand creation from the ground up
The Geppetto Group has developed a proprietary
discipline called Echo Branding. It’s a process that begins with the
creation of a unique, “meaningful insight” that’s owned
by the client’s brand. The insight is then executed in every corner
of a kid’s life so that it echoes in every part of a kid’s
life. “One of the reasons kids’ marketing is different than
marketing to adults is because kids have so many rituals and behaviors that
we can latch on to and connect with,” comments Geller.
Geller says her team asks the same double-sided
question of every brand it develops: what does it do (in terms of taste,
flavor and packaging), and what does it do for me? This question is
especially relevant during the development of packaging. “There is so
much a marketer can do to say to kids ‘We do something for you that
no adult brand can do,’ whether that entails creating a beverage
package that easily fits in a kid’s hand or backpack,” she
The adult beverage market is heavily influenced by
health-consciousness consumers. In the kids’ beverage segment, this
is even more true. There are tremendous opportunities for
“better-for-you” kids’ beverages — as long as
they’re executed with care. “Marketers are wary of marketing
drinks to kids because they’re worried about having a sugar or
caffeine profile that could set off a negative PR backlash for what is most
likely a small entry in their portfolio,” Geller says. “We have
talked to kids about beverages and we found that kids really want
better-for-you drinks that they can call their own, but there’s a
real problem: all of the words marketers use to talk about better-for-you
say to kids ‘diet,’ ‘low fat,’ and kids don’t
want to ever hear ‘less’ anything. We found that all the words
we say to kids usually boil down to ‘less taste’ and
‘less fun.’ We’ve been working to try and figure out how
to create better-for-you beverages that are all about ‘more,’
which is what kids want.”
When it comes to the packaging, Gellar says it’s
important to give kids and moms clear brand messages. “Marketers
often think kids’ packaging needs lots of color and clutter, but kids
can’t put it into the shopping cart without first asking mom, which
means the packaging has to be that much more memorable so they know what to
ask for specifically, as opposed to generic colors and graphics,” she
says. “We encourage marketers to look at the tried and true ways that
have worked with kids, like character development. We don’t think
anyone’s done it in the beverage category, but we see it in other
categories. In salty snacks, there’s Cheetos’ Chester Cheetah
and the cereal category has traditionally done a great job, too.”
In the end, Geller says it’s fine to look for
something new and unusual to use as your brand hook, but it’s best to
look at brands that have stood the test of time and look into the brand
creation methods of the past if you’re really looking to create a
time-tested brand, as opposed to an in-and-out promotion.
Organic kid’s smoothie is fun (and healthy!)
In August, Horizon
Organic, Longmont, Colo., launched a line of kid-friendly smoothies made
with organic nonfat yogurt and fruit juices. The beverages are available in
four flavors — Wild Berry Blast, Strawberry Banana Splash and
Tropical Fruit Punch — and deliver calcium and 100 percent of the
recommended daily intake of vitamin C per serving.
“Consumers are taking a closer look at how their
food choices impact their overall health and well-being,” says
Horizon Organic’s Doug Radi, smoothie brand manager. “If it
tastes good, kids will eat it. [But] tasting good and being good for you are not mutually
exclusive. Choosing organic food is a great way to reduce exposure to added
chemicals because organic food is produced without the use of antibiotics, added
and dangerous pesticides.”
A key point of difference in the Horizon Organic
smoothies is that they are enriched with NutraFlora, a natural fiber that
enhances calcium absorption. And as a prebiotic, NutraFlora also helps
increase the level of good bacteria in the digestive system and promotes
overall digestive health. According to Trina O’Brien, marketing and
public relations specialist, GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., NutraFlora short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS) are
effective and safe for small appetites and digestive systems.
Beverage Industry’s October issue features a cover story on our 2019 Executive of the Year, Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Co. This issue also features a category focus on bottled water and the innovations that abound in flavored, functional and sparkling waters. The issue also includes an ingredient spotlight on the beloved chocolate ingredient as well as voice-picking solutions aimed at streamlining beverage warehouses. As usual, we rounded up the latest trends in products, packaging and ingredients.
Check back throughout the month for additional content.