Byrne Dairy brings excitement to its products, and benefits with an increase in sales

Byrne Dairy’s juice pints were the first product line to be redesigned. (New design is on the left.) To target the younger market, a company mascot named Byrnsie was created.
Gone are the days of Vanilla, Chocolate Chip and Strawberry. Say hello to the days of Holy Cow, Gimme S'More and Razzle Dazzle . . . if you want to move ice cream product, that is.

And no one knows and understands the industry better than Byrne Dairy, Syracuse, N.Y. The Byrne family has been in the dairy business since 1933, and this family-owned and operated manufacturer and supplier of high-quality refrigerated and frozen dairy products knows that to stay a leader means knowing your customers and meeting their ever-changing lifestyle needs.

To help Byrne Dairy better understand the packaging and consumer side of the food industry is its partner and advertising agency of record, Cowley Associates, also headquartered in Syracuse. The factors that drive consumers' purchasing habits are continually changing, and the dairy industry, like all industries, has to keep pace in order to remain competitive. So, no matter how tried and true a company's products are, if they don't grab the customers' eye, they may just sit on the shelf. That's why this manufacturing/ advertising team works so diligently to keep a pulse on what will work and what won't. The duo has worked together to rename and redesign Byrne Dairy's lines of premium milk, juice, fresh cream, yogurt and ice cream during the past year and a half.

"When my grandfather started the business, we sold our products from house to house from a delivery cart pulled by a horse. You obviously have to keep changing and adapting with the times," says William Byrne, president of Byrne Dairy. "Now, to sell our products we begin with market research and customer trend studies."

The same goes for Byrne's packaging redesigns. It all starts with research. Lots of research, in fact, and lots of questions, such as: What's happening in the marketplace? How have consumers changed? How have those changes affected the ways we need to reach consumers?

Along with marketplace and trend research, both Cowley and Byrne staff make regular field trips to store dairy cases to see what's popular and persuasive, and conversely, what designs are not as effective. This helps ensure that Byrne's packages will stand out from the competition

In addition to package placement, shape and size, color is one of the most powerful selling tools-if the designer knows how to use it to reach a very specific audience. Certain colors are more appealing and appetizing than others. Rich, dark tones, for example, can convey luxury and superior quality. White, on the other hand, communicates product purity and freshness. But it needs to be used judiciously, with forethought given to printing concerns and the amount of shipping and handling the package will undergo. What looked so fresh and clean in design can quickly become dingy and "ding-ed" in reality. And vibrant color, coupled with eye-catching motion (like swirls and splashes), is a natural choice for reaching kids and teens.

"The challenge is to always be creative, yet careful not to create such a drastic change that the consumer is confused and can't find the product," says Paul Cowley, president and creative director for Cowley Associates. "We want the con-sumer to recognize it as the same product-only better."

Light cream containers now sport a modern coffee cup design, rather than a traditional cow and barn illustration.

Byrnsie is born

Juice pints are among some of the most recent package re-designs by Cowley Associates for Byrne Dairy. The challenge was to create a new design that was fun and energetic yet still related to the other yet-to-be-designed product lines. Byrne Dairy wanted to target the younger market, which they did, in part through the introduction of a company mascot-a likeable, friendly faced cow named "Byrnsie™." He was an instant hit with kids.

Byrne Dairy's premium ice creams and flavored milk pints also have a fresh new look.

"You have to appeal to customers' sense of luxury and decadence. You have to make it worth it to the customer to splurge," says Annette Jim, director of marketing at Byrne Dairy. "You actually have to appeal to their emotional sense."

Daeya King, Byrne Dairy's account executive at Cowley Associates, adds, "It's great fun to work with this client because they understand the role that packaging and naming plays in sales. They understand the power of impulse buying on their sales margins. And they've seen the difference in their sales as a result of their willingness to try non-traditional routes."

With ice cream, Byrne Dairy was confident that its premium line was the creamiest in the market. Ringing in at 14% butterfat, Byrne Dairy's premium ice creams are made with fresh cream and the richest ingredients available. However, until Byrne Dairy went the extra step with a new name and a premium packaging strategy, the product line was not experiencing the sales it should have been.

Such names as Going Nuts, Holy Cow (peanut butter cups), Caramelicious (all caramel), Razzle Dazzle (rich chocolate with raspberry swirls) and Gimme S'More (graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate-for the camper at heart), made the sales difference.

Byrne Dairy even came up with an environmentally friendly tie-in to a new line of ice creams named for New York State's Adirondack Mountains. A portion of the sales from their Adirondack High Peaks, Adirondack Black Bear, Adirondack Avalanche and Adirondack Mountain Freeze ice creams goes to the conservation of the Adirondack Park.

Milk cartons no longer look like they are from Byrne Dairy’s founding year of 1933. The new cartons use digital photography, and depict an updated farm scene.

Single-serves must be eye catching

The repackaging of Byrne Dairy's milk pints has seen equal success.

"Families today are on the go. If we package it right, kids are going to grab for the milk on an impulse, instead of a soda, and that will keep both parents and kids happy," says King.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, single-serve milk sales in convenience stores are higher than any other single-serve product, including water, soft drinks and teas. Milk pint displays are not in the backs of stores with the traditional milk displays. They are displayed up front, where they are easy to spot and the products are easy to grab, along with other impulse items.

"Milk on the go is the newest trend but, again, it has to look appealing or nobody is going to want it," adds Jim. "Kids have to like the way it looks, and then if they do, they will go for it. And then moms are happy because their kids are getting calcium and having fun doing it."

Now even Mom and Dad are getting in on the fun. In addition to its kid-focused flavors like Chocolate, Strawberry and Cookies-N-Cream, Byrne Dairy has added Cappuccino, Mocha Cappuccino and Low-Fat Chocolate to its mix of pints to go.

Byrne Dairy is now capitalizing on its popularity among youths and their parents by negotiating placement of milk pint vend-ing machines in schools and other facilities where soda vending machines ty-pically stood.

"It's amazing what can happen when you com-bine a quality product that stands the test of time with an eye-catching package and a name that really pulls you in," says Cowley.

"And, we've only just begun to brainstorm, the potential is limitless. I mean, Holy Cow, there are all sorts of new ways to bring our great products to our customers," concludes Jim.