Packaging Design

Have real babies had their day?

The baby category is a complex market for new parents; they are under constant pressure to do what’s best for their baby. Most of the time it’s overwhelming.

Research and recommendation, personal experience and lifestyle, price point and promotion can all influence their decisions on which brands to buy.

One decision factor we hear brought up time and time again during research groups is how polarising images of real babies are on product packaging, and so here’s why we think that real babies have had their day…


Emotional Disconnect

There was a time when parents heartstrings were pulled by any image of a smiling, laughing baby. The ‘oh, how cute’ factor.

Today’s parents are far more critical – “his hair’s a bit wild”; “her smile looks fake”; “has that image been photoshopped?” And of course, “no-one’s baby is as cute as mine!”

Our previously intrinsic positive emotional response to seeing ‘other’ babies has significantly diminished.


Representing Diversity

Obviously, parents don’t expect to see their own child on branded packaging – although the idea of being able to personalise to this extent is definitely intriguing.

What they do expect is a ‘representation’ of their baby. For some this might be as specific as the same hair or eye colour, but at a minimum, parents want their baby’s ethnicity to be represented. If mum (or dad) doesn’t see a representation of ‘their baby’ it’s an immediate turn off.

And in a society that is now incredibly diverse, is this a risk your brand wants to take?


Societal Pressures

‘Inclusivity’ is the word of the moment, and the drive for society to continue embracing this will only get stronger and the voices louder. This has already started to impact on what brands parents want to be seen buying and using.

What message is a parent sending to her friends and peers using a product that prominently features a blond, blue-eyed Caucasian child on the front?

Yes, this may seem like massive overthinking, but it is the reality of where societal pressures take us.

The trade also have a vested interest in meeting consumer wants and needs, and so it’s highly likely that they (in particular the larger multiples) will look to de-list products that are not visually representative of today’s society – better to side-step controversy before it comes knocking, right?

Does your brand want to wait and see how this plays out, or proactively make a change and celebrate the positive brand story it creates for your consumers?


Re-Engaging Bickiepegs

Bickiepegs are a great example of a brand who have embraced this change.

Their packaging design had changed very little since its 1925 origins and prominently featured a blond haired, blue-eyed Caucasian baby. Proving to be polarising across both their UK and international markets.

With such a unique product whose usage needed to be explained, could this work without the image of a child using the product? Who better to tell you than the client…

“The Bickiepegs baby was always a central part of our design, and something we thought was critical in explaining the nature of our teething biscuits, but Design Activity have given us something much better, and the positive response from both our UK and international markets has been incredible.”

The ‘Wonderful World of Bickiepegs’ we created, replaced the real baby with engaging animal illustrations inspired by children’s storybooks.

Re-engaging through the projection of emotion parents have with their baby. Not just the parent thinking “oh isn’t that cute” but believing that “my baby would love that”.

The animals with ‘big teeth’ were specifically chosen to reflect the teething nature of the range and purposefully illustrated interacting with the product – whether it’s Teething Biscuits or Teething Gel.

For more on Bickiepegs, click here.

Understanding a category and recognising the consumer need-states that drive behaviour and decisions at fixture is crucial in the process of creating pack designs that will stand out from the crowd and resonate with the target consumer.

If you’d like to hear our thoughts on your brand and packaging, get in touch.