Thanks to social media, kids are sophisticated, brand-savvy and connected at an early age. Children now account for a whopping $21.4 billion worth of their own purchasing power. They’re comfortable spending their money, and they’re likely to purchase what they want with some degree of guidance from their parents—and a heavy dose of peer endorsement.
Television and Internet advertising, as well as activity-filled brand Web sites shape kids’ brand preferences; conversations with peers help seal the deal. These “conversations” include face time, phone, email and texting. And when kids want something, they want it now as a result of these influences.
While the interplay of these factors play a role in driving kids into retail environments, because they help kids exhibit a proclivity for specific brands, packaging plays a critical role in making the sale happen. Here’s the thing: when confronted by myriad choices, kids are impulsive and can sometimes be more attracted by a competitors’ brand if the packaging is more compelling.
That’s why the brand has to be fully leveraged in package design to remind the child about the attributes and perceived higher value of the brand that drove them into the store in the first place.
A few rules to follow:
1. Use distinctive color palettes kids respond to: bright, fun, engaging. Fully leverage the brand’s signature color and add splashes of unusual, eye-catching additional color to make the packaging pop.
2. Design distinctive package structure that refers back to the brand. Or create a fun icon that becomes a “character” to a child on-pack.
3. Design highly colorful imagery and graphics. Fun, unusual fonts add a distinctive brand look and feel. All of this attracts kids in a big way.
4. Employ selective brand communication that speaks to kids and their parents. Remember: parents need to be reassured about toys they or their kids are purchasing. What value is there above competing products? More creative, educational, positive, nurturing; what is most compelling?
5. Harness interactive elements. Kids love packaging that can be scanned by mom’s cell phone thanks to special apps that make it possible to use 2D bar codes in a variety of ways. Additional information, news of special promotions, even games can be accessed. How great is that?
6. Use toy packaging to invite kids to go online and join a special club so they can play games, read updates about their favorite toys—especially if a character is involved—and interact with other brand fans.
Remember when toys and toy packaging were simple? Well, it isn’t kid stuff anymore. It’s more sophisticated now because kids are. The challenge for toy companies: to fully leverage the potential of package design for a fast-changing audience, today’s kids.
Ted Mininni is president of Design Force Inc. he can be reached at http://www.designforceinc.com.
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