Packaging Persuasion
Pamela Accetta Smith
(847) 205-5660 ext. 4069
Yes, it’s true. When trying to get kids to drink more milk, it’s all about the packaging.
Sure, as moms, we can tout the nutritional value of milk as a way to get our kids to consume the recommended daily dose of dairy, but come on … are kids really listening to those health facts? And I’m not talking teens here. Teens are more likely to listen to nutrition messages. I’m talking kids — roll-in-the-mud, would-rather-die-than-eat-a-vegetable kids.
Many reports show that children consume more milk if the vehicle carrying it is appealing. The more attractive the package, they say, the more willing kids are to drink its contents. Makes sense. Processors and organizations alike are working over time to create new and exciting packaging for milk products. For example, many students in the St. Louis area returned from Christmas vacation greeted by significant improvements in their schools’ milk choices thanks to the St. Louis School Milk Test, sponsored by Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and the St. Louis Dairy Council.
The test involves about 165,000 students who are being introduced to new multi-colored paperboard packaging, improved flavor formulations and new flavors to determine which products are most popular with children. After the first 10 weeks of the test, through March 15, flavored milk sales increased an average of almost 20 percent per school. The test will continue through the second half of the school year, concluding in June. Complete test results will be released this summer.
“This test is confirming what we suspected — enhanced paperboard packaging and new and improved flavors can significantly increase school milk sales,” says Victor Zaborsky, senior manager of marketing for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). “We anticipate that the second half of the test will have similar results.”
The 290 participating schools are divided into three groups, each of which receives a combination of enhanced paperboard packaging with colorful, kid-friendly graphics, and new flavors including chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. One group is being offered white, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla milk in new packaging that features bright colors and kid-appealing graphics. A second group is offered the same packaging with white, strawberry and chocolate flavored milk. The third group gets white, strawberry and chocolate flavored milk in packaging with even more sophisticated graphics that use more colors and showcase active kids. A control group of 120 schools was offered no changes in milk offerings.
Milk sales at schools participating in the test have increased an average of 12 percent per school. The schools with the most sophisticated milk packaging have had the largest increases in overall sales, at almost 14 percent per school. Flavored milk sales have fared even better, with increased sales of almost 20 percent per school.
So, improve the package, improve the flavor, improve school lunch programs, improve vend channels — do whatever it takes to get our kids to drink more milk. Hopefully these efforts will spill even more into the consumption of other dairy products.