Packin' It Up Just Right

Recently, I've come across new consumer products that look as though they were developed with teens in mind. This can be perceived as a good thing (products for specific attitudes/need states) or a not-so-good thing (are they trying too hard?). But it got me thinking specifically about brand packaging, so I went on a quest to see what's new, noteworthy and teen-focused on shelf.

• PepsiCo's Aquafina has recently unveiled a refreshed look for its Flavor Splash sub-brand, with the intention of appealing to 13-19 year olds. The new offering includes sparkling water, flavor drops and eventually, a revamped still water. Pepsi Beverage's NA CMO states that the new Aquafina lineup "is a great proposition in high schools" and "the intention is for the beverages to appeal to teens, while qualifying as something moms feel good about buying." The packaging was designed with a loose, casual typography, a bright candy color palette, and flavor names like Peelin" Good, which are quirky and fun.

• By now, most of us have either tasted or seen Campbell's Go! Soups, a line of six eclectic flavors in white pouches with bold graphics and photography. Campbell's research told them that a younger demographic, that the company struggled to attract, is culturally diverse, globally connected and dining at local ethnic eateries and food trucks. The packaging is a huge departure from Campbell's iconic soup can. Plastic pouches bear eccentric flavors like Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda and graphics include light hearted handwritten copy, black and white photographs and speech bubbles. Campbell’s Go! Soups are convenient, hip and have a sense of adventure.

• Earlier this year, Doritos revealed a new look with the goal of better connecting with its core target consumer: teens and young adults. In preparation for the redesign, trends in sports, fashion, music and gaming were studied to better understand the graphic elements most resonating with this consumer. The result was a bold, new package design with hip photography front and center, vibrant colors and an electrified triangle intersecting with the Doritos brand mark.

• In late 2012, Stride gum launched a spinoff brand called iD, targeted at teens and focused on the teen mind-set. The brand premise is about discovery and individuality, manifesting itself via unique flavors and an innovative, sleek pack with a magnetic closure. Once opened, there are 18 unique designs from up-and-coming artists around the world; the more one chews the more one discovers. In addition, an online game portal and social media campaign called iD ArtCade uses the brand packaging to unlock and enhance the experience.

What are CPG brands, like the above, doing with their packaging to successfully connect with teen audiences? A few takeaways to consider:

• Get to know your consumer. How do they interact with the product, store it, use it, share it, purchase it, discard of it? Take all of this into account with the design.

• Don't offend moms. While you certainly shouldn't design for parents, don't antagonize them either.

• Convenience is key. Bold graphics break through. Casual messaging resonates more than marketing speak. A sense of informality works wonders.

• If there is a way to build in individuality, go for it.

• Get the functional information out there, but don’t forget teens are looking to emotionally connect with their brands more than the average consumer.

•  Consider creating an integrated experience – using the packaging and other mediums – if it makes sense and enhances the brand message.

• Have fun. Please do the world a favor and keep it light where appropriate.

• Lastly – and this is the hardest one – be authentic



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