Triggering Children's Emotions with Licensed Product Packaging

Triggering Children’s Emotions with Licensed Product Packaging

Given the fact that our roots are in the toy industry, appealing to kids has always been an area of expertise for our team. Over the past twenty years, we’ve conducted a considerable amount of research to understand how best to capture and maintain the attention of the various kid target demographics in an ever-changing, overly stimulating, media-rich environment. This month’s issue of BOLT! addresses this challenge, with a particular focus on licensed brands. And it offers helpful insights to leverage as you develop the licensing programs for your children’s properties.

Ensuring a perfect fit between brand and licensed property

Marketers know how to trigger children’s emotions; how to trip the “have to have it” switch to the ON position. One of the best, often-sought ways to endear brands to children is the use of licensed characters on kids’ products. Yet this isn’t always a success endeavor. If anything, it can be a hit or miss proposition.

No matter how hot licensed properties are, some things have to be understood before marketers seek to leverage them for their brands. For one thing, brand and licensed property have to be a “fit”. The brand itself has to be clearly positioned with kids as well as with their parents, who are typically making the final purchase decision. Leveraging those assets that resonate most with both children and their parents, then adding a licensed property with corresponding values makes sense. Making certain that the licensed character’s values are a full and equal partner with the brand only strengthens both. One brand should never be weaker than the other.

Children equate characters with specific traits, values and stories

It is essential to bring licensed characters to life by carrying their stories forward on licensed products. Otherwise, they appear as lifeless images that aren’t vibrant and don’t attract kids’ attention for long enough to trigger their desire to purchase. When consumer product brand and licensed property work in sync, magic happens. Children love them and parents feel confident in endorsing them because they are perceived as healthy, wholesome options for their kids.

Finding out about the specific attributes children love about a character and bringing its story life, then connecting that story to the consumer product brand in a convincing manner, is crucial. The consumer product brand then has the “endorsement” of the licensed property. When this kind of process occurs, children are not only going to recognize licensed products, they are going to connect to them on an emotional level.

Making an emotional connection through product and package design

As is the case with adults, the emotional appeal of brands far outweighs mere recognition and the rational understanding of features and benefits. Emotions tie every demographic group, including those that are children, to brands. Strong, positive emotions turn consumers of every age into brand loyalists.

In some cases, it may make sense to subtly tweak the actual product to better align brand with licensed property in a more seamless manner to accomplish this objective. Hard to do? Not if the proper research is done and both consumer product brand and licensed property are deconstructed to get to their core in kids’ minds.

An great example of well-executed co-branded licensed product is Kellogg’s Minecraft Creeper Crunch cereal. How about a cereal that leverages one of the core characters from the world of the sandbox video game, Minecraft? The new, limited-edition cereal features cinnamon-flavored crunchy squares and pixel-shaped  “Creeper Bit” marshmallows in various shades of green. The entire front panel of the Minecraft Creeper Crunch box features the unmistakable artwork of a Creeper’s face, which connects to both kids and their parents. Smart move by Kellogg’s to fashion the product into shapes to reinforce the partnership with the licensed brand in a dedicated manner. The entire concept and execution speaks to the value of marrying two trusted and highly-recognizable brands.

Regardless of how strong the consumer product brand and licensed property may be, the packaging has to trigger kids to want to purchase the product among the broad variety of choices available to them. BURST Oral Care teamed up with global hit CoComelon – one of the most popular kids’ shows on both YouTube and Netflix – to create the limited-edition BURSTkids Sonic Toothbrush. Like all BURST products, the CoComelon-branded kids sonic toothbrush has been endorsed by thousands of BURST Ambassador Dental Professionals. The toothbrush comes in both green and pink variations with an easy-grip silicone handle and two brushing modes. This product is a perfect fit with the licensed property, since brushing your teeth is a key part of the “Yes, Yes, Bedtime” song featured in the show.

The CoComelon BURSTkids Sonic Toothbrush packaging features a large image of JJ, the star of the show, wearing his pajamas and ready for bedtime on a deep blue background surrounded by the show’s familiar circles and smiley-faced stars. The toothbrush image is moved over to the right to allow JJ to be the star of the packaging as well, engaging both kids and parents with his bright eyes and smile.

Driving sales through character imagery on packaging

Some of the strongest licensed brands in the world have taken this approach to another level, thanks to leveraging their cachet with well-conceived and standardized packaging programs. It’s no accident that Marvel and Star Wars, both of which boast rich universes of well-developed characters and deeply-imaginative storylines, continue to be among the best-selling character-based licensed brands in the world. Licensed products with packaging that features the three spider-heroes from Marvel’s animated series, Spidey and His Amazing Friends, or Grogu from the Star Wars Disney+ original series, The Mandalorian are guaranteed to make a strong emotional connection with avid young fans of these properties, and influence their parents’ decision to buy.

When consumer product brands and character-based licensed brands come together in such a convincing, powerful manner, kids and their parents not only recognize them instantly, they gravitate to them and become emotionally engaged. A relationship develops between consumer and licensed product. When that happens, every other product in the category disappears. An enviable position for any consumer product brand to find itself in.

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