Blogging Out Loud

Connecting You with the Latest Marketing Tips and Trends.

Cracker Jack Kids.

Innovations in packaging and technology keep big kids buying.

You can make an old trick new. Adults feel loyal to brands that maximize packaging and offer rewards, similar to the products of their youth.

Now that I’m old enough to know how these things work, I can begrudgingly give credit to the genius who insisted on “a prize in every box” of Cracker Jack. When I was younger, I thought that prize was made just for me (OK, and occasionally my little brother), a small token of appreciation that seemed to say, “Gee, you’re special.” The same went for those tiny comics that had me smackin’ Bazooka Bubble Gum, the games and toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals, the treats at the bottom of the cereal box. I didn’t, yet, think of myself as a consumer. And I certainly didn’t think of myself as having brand loyalty (although I surely did, as we’ve been told for years that most kids do). Yet, I see it so clearly now — how my preferences were shaped, how that little something extra made a big impact and, in the end, a big difference in how and what I buy. It’s a quality I seek out — and practically expect — today. Whether it’s a handsome recipe card included in a box of pasta or smartly designed grab-and-go yogurt; I’m inclined to choose the brand that gives me more, ’cause, I am special.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems as if there’s a new “prize” in town, and Cracker Jack Kids — even if we’re all grown up — are still the target demographic.

Take, for example, some of the brilliant innovations in wine and spirits packaging. Labels like these are a wine lover’s dream. How often have you had a great bottle of wine, only to go to the store the next day and not remember the name? Or worse, served an expensive bottle that was too cold or too warm. Packaging that allows consumers to peel away a portion of the label to help them remember the product they love, or that has a built-in temperature gauge (Coors Brewing Co. is doing this, too), sends a powerful message: Not only do we care about your business, we care about your enjoyment of this product, and we hope you’ll buy it again. In a saturated marketplace, a message like that can go a long way.

So can tapping into the Smartphone market, which is — no surprise — booming. Pew Research Center in Washington recently found that “40 percent of American adults (18 years or older) use their cell phones to surf the Internet, check their email and instant message.” Companies such as WiMO Reality are taking advantage of this, and it’s no surprise that the brands taking advantage of WiMO (TNT is promoting season two of HawthoRNe on packaging of Sony Pictures DVDs). In simple terms, WiMO is a Smartphone application that allows users to scan an image (using their phone’s built-in camera lens) off a product’s package (or any printed materials) that then connects to virtually any type of content that is imaginable, from promotional tools and exclusive content, to instructional and music videos, to locating the nearest place of purchase. It’s timely and smart, not to mention fun and entertaining, hallmarks of all good toys, hallmarks of all good packaging extras to capture the interest of Cracker Jack Kids.

The packaging has changed, but the concept has not. Companies still need to make the most of their product, while consumers — from little kids to Cracker Jack Kids — want it all, and then some. I rarely indulge in the excesses of youth, but when I do, you better believe I go right back to the brands I grew up on, and no, I never share.

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo credit: star5112

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

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  29. Meryl
    July 27, 2010

    While the prize is important the value for your money is a key element. Although the Happy Meal at McDonalds has “the toy” which is certainly more appealing to my boys, it is not cost effective when your boys have a big appetite. More nuggets for a lower price will win every time. Of course I must admit when I was younger clearly some intense struggles would be when my sister and I would fight over the prize in the cracker jack box especially if it was one of those cool tatoos! My loyalty is with the brands that I have grown up with and although it isn’t impossible, it would take some significant temptation to lure me to the competition.


  30. Barbara
    July 27, 2010

    At the cosmetic counter, I know I have enough Lancôme bags to start my owe store so it worked with me gift with purchase. We as consumers are watching our dollars these days so I think a little free something goes a long way. Our shopping experience has changed from years ago when service was a major part of our experience and now with the smart phones the consumers have more choices at rapid speed.


  31. Kate
    July 27, 2010

    It seems to me that brand name products have been using the “prize” or rebates more and more now that generic products are becoming serious comptition. The extra incentive to stick to what you know, versus trying out a possibly inferior generic product is worth it and works on me. I am much more likely to pay a little more to buy sunscreen by Banana Boat if they include a travel size package, then to save $3 and get only the standard size bottle of Rite Aid brand lotion.


  32. Betsy
    July 27, 2010

    Way back when…most of you won’t remember…many consumers made the choice as to which detergent they would buy based on the color of the towel found free in the package. At one time, just about every kids’ cereal package also delivered an ever-changing but motivating “toy of the day”. And of course many women just can’t resist the promoise of a cosmetic gift with purchase-even if it is something they really don’t need. Come on ladies, fess up, just how many cosmetic or beach totes have you amassed? I’m not sure a free gift can build long term brand loyalty but I do believe that even today’s informed and savvy shopper can be inticed, from time to time, to purchase something by dangling a free gift “carrot” with that purchase. But, marketers must still understand their target and make the offer lifestyle relevant.


  33. Alice
    July 27, 2010

    For me, packaging is really important. It needs to be able to grab my attention if i was to stray from the brand that I’ve remained loyal to. Essentially, it comes down to brand loyalty and what the product can do for me. Lately, it seems like convenience is the selling point for many products, especially if its free. Like Meghann noted above, we are drawn to things that can give us more bang for our buck and can provide us what we need, if not more. I’ve heard of a smartphone application that allows you to take a picture of a product and it’ll search the net for a price comparison with other stores. That’s crazy! Imagine if you went to Albertsons, took a picture of shampoo, searched it and found it to be less at Target. The possibilities for convenience, pricing, and packaging are endless. Anyways, competitor brands will be increasing the ante to break the loyalty bond. I’m excited to see how far it goes.


  34. Meghann
    July 27, 2010

    I agree that I tend to choose brands that I grew up with or that my family always seemed to choose. And who doesn’t love something that’s free? It’s my favorite price. I was definitely a Cracker Jack Kid, but that mentality has now spread into my adult life and I think it actually makes me a little less loyal to some of the brands I consumed in my youth. For example, if I see two bottles of sunscreen (both the same price) and one is my normal brand and the other isn’t but it has a free travel bottle of sunscreen with purchase of big bottle, then I’m definitely going to buy the one with the freebie. To me the instant gratification of getting something extra is much more appealing than staying loyal to a specific brand.


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