Break the rules by thinking in new dimensions

Sometimes, insightful breakthroughs originate from unlikely places.

I was reminded of this while listening to Barbara Jirka speak at the Kid and Mom Power Food and Beverage conference in January in Boston. Jirka is channel marketing manager for Tyson Foods, and she was discussing how to market healthful foods to kids and moms.

If you want kids to embrace your brand, heed what Jirka learned, because it really opened her eyes. Jirka’s focus at Tyson is the schools channel, and recently, after observing kids in this setting, she concluded that the school environment isn’t as you remember it. To Jirka’s surprise, socialization takes precedence over all in today’s school cafeteria, because more demanding curricula are squeezing lunch periods. With lunchtimes now more abbreviated, fun trumps food.

Certainly, the kids eat, but the act is a more perfunctory one in the context of catching up with friends during the school day. Among the insights Jirka gleaned from that visit to the school lunchroom: Understand how kids socialize. Elementary school-age kids don’t want pancakes served on a plate that require a knife and fork to eat. They prefer a portable package of pancake sticks they can dip in a small tub of syrup and munch on while they move about with friends.

"That was a real eye-opener for me, and I’ve been in kids’ school nutrition programs for 25 years," Jirka told the conference.

Could other unexplored types of cause and effect be true in the home as well with regard to packaging? It’s worth considering, if your job is marketing brands to kids and moms in retail channels. How can you package products in new ways that increase product usage occasions for youngsters?

If you’re a brand manager or a design manager, it may be worth visiting with your channel managers down the hall to kick around ideas that break the rules.

Armed with fresh insights, you just might think about your brand in a whole different dimension and unlock new possibilities for sales.
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