Demographic Segmentation Becomes Common Packaging Strategy

Demographic segmentation, the time-tested tool of mass media advertisers, is becoming a more common packaging strategy as food companies develop line extensions to appeal to every conceivable sliver of the population.

By Kate Bertrand, Packaging Editor

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Other vintners also are climbing on the wine-for-women platform with labels like “White Lie” and “The Mad Housewife” — and with good reason. According to wine industry reports, women drink 60 percent and buy 77 percent of all wine consumed in the U.S. In fact, “Women control about 80 percent of all consumer purchase decisions. Despite the rise in equality, women are still doing the majority of shopping,” says Matthew Adams, a consumer analyst at Datamonitor.

Think small


With the growing concern about childhood obesity and marketing’s role in propagating it, licensed kiddie characters are no longer just for junk food and soda.

Kids Only Bottled Water sports labels featuring Scooby-Doo, Bratz, Superman, Spiderman and others. And San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods ( is rolling out canned vegetables with labels featuring Sesame Street characters. The products — green beans, peas and corn — are sold in multipacks. The labels and multipack carriers include games and activities as well as images of Elmo, Grover and Cookie Monster. Del Monte licensed the characters from Sesame Workshop and is partnering with the nonprofit in its Healthy Habits for Life initiative.

“Kids like to play with food and with packaging, and our goal was to make our packaging interactive so kids have the opportunity not only to interact with the green beans but also with the package,” says Tim Snyder, marketing director for Del Monte Vegetables. “Fewer than 15 percent of elementary-age kids eat the right amount of fruits and vegetables. This is our way of encouraging healthy habits.”

Elmo, Grover and Cookie Monster should be healthy for Del Monte’s bottom line, as well. A Sesame Workshop study showed preschoolers’ intake of broccoli increased 28 percent when the product was branded with a Sesame Street character.

Changes in household size are reshaping packaging, as well. The growing populations of singles and empty nesters are driving down household size and driving up demand for products that meet the needs of the small household. In particular, small households typically consume food more slowly than larger ones.

Processors are helping small households minimize food waste by developing more protective packaging and smaller package sizes, including single servings or downsized multipacks.
When Bimbo Bakeries USA (, Fort Worth, Texas, introduced its Oroweat Premium Buns this summer, it included a four-count package in the line-up. The four-count pack came in response to smaller households’ requests for an alternative to the conventional eight-count size.

St. Paul, Minn.-based Land O’Lakes Inc. ( targets smaller households with Land O’Lakes Butter in Half Sticks, which comes in a half-pound rather than a one-pound package. To ensure product freshness during the period it takes a small household to eat a half-pound of butter, Land O’Lakes wraps the half sticks in its proprietary FlavorProtect Wrapper. According to the company, the wrapper safeguards the butter’s flavor better than a conventional wrapper and keeps odors out.

In a small household, keeping meat and poultry fresh — or at least free from freezer burn — can be a problem. Sealed Air Corp.’s Cryovac Food Packaging Div. (, Duncan, S.C., meets this need with its Cryovac saddle pack-style package.

Designed as a multi-unit vacuum package for fresh chicken, the flexible package has six perforated pockets. Each pocket holds two pieces of chicken. Consumers simply tear off the amount they want to prepare and refrigerate or freeze the rest. The package is leak-proof, and vacuum packaging protects the product from freezer burn.

The age factor

Finally, the consumer’s age offers an opportunity for demographic segmentation. Children, teenagers/young adults and seniors are the key audiences for targeted packaging.

Food and beverage products developed for children typically include graphics that appeal to kids, but the package structure also can play a role in meeting this age group’s needs. Beverage bottles with a small “waistline” make it easy for kids to grip the container, for example.

Squeezable packaging appeals to children, especially if they can eat directly from the pack — think Yoplait Go-Gurt tube. J&J Snack Foods Corp. (, Pennsauken, N.J., this season launched retail multipacks of Minute Maid soft frozen novelties in squeeze tubes.

For another important distribution channel — schools — J&J packages Minute Maid Juice Bars in a triangular, easy-open, form-fill-seal pouch. The company chose the same pouch, the MPak from Milliken Chemical (, Spartanburg, S.C., to package its Icee Freeze novelties for retail sale.

Both the graphics and the overall style of Icee’s pouches and cartons, featuring the Icee Bear character, were designed to appeal to the kids demographic.
Both the graphics and the overall style of Icee’s pouches and cartons, featuring the Icee Bear character, were designed to appeal to the kids demographic.

The Icee pouches and cartons feature fun, colorful graphics, with the Icee Bear character prominent on the carton. The products and the packaging structure and graphics were all designed “to appeal to the kids demographic,” says Alissa Purcell, senior marketing specialist-retail at J&J.

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