Back to School: the other resolution season.

The first week back to school may in-fact be the true ‘resolution’ season in our household. The annual ritual begins with a mass closet (and kitchen) clean out and obsessive organization of every drawer, dresser and decorative basket dumping ground.

Launching a food product in Canada

How new brands and products make their way into our home.

The first week back to school may in-fact be the true ‘resolution’ season in our household.  The annual ritual begins with a mass closet (and kitchen) clean out and obsessive organization of every drawer, dresser and decorative basket dumping ground.  This is then followed by a resounding commitment to keep up perfect order for the duration of the new school year, despite our destiny which will eventually bring one busy week and the realization of guests coming over, for everything in sight to get shoved into those clean drawers – never to be seen again until the next big cleanout.

While we have a ways to go when it comes to organizing our chaos, the new year does see some other more readily adopted and retained new habits and behaviours in our household, most revolve around three areas: what’s in us, what’s on us and what’s around us.  What makes the grade in week one – and survives through September, tends to be what sticks around throughout the year.  So in a sea of new product launches (and some tried and true coming back with new benefits) here’s what’s catching our eye, wallet and pride of backpack in our home this year.

Less packaging

From litterless lunches to elimination of single use plastics and products that need not be undercover – we are making the choice to go with options that support less packaging or upcycling where possible.  I have to admit, it’s a behaviour that stemmed from school routine and worked its way to us, raising a generation that is actually embarrassed to bring anything to school that produces waste.  And with so many practical and durable options, it’s becoming easier than ever.

While packaging overhaul can no doubt be a massive (and costly) endeavour, there are more and more companies leveraging their current packs and using social or digital channels to inspire and educate on how to reduce waste.  From snacks in resealable packs showing new ways to portion their treats into re-usable containers, to brands finding ways to capture their consumer’s waste (through the mail or collection bins) to recycle or even  repurpose their waste into new products, overall creating a more positive consumer choice and loyalty.

Not so sweet

Despite being a candy lover myself and a household that believes in moderation, when it comes to our kids’ palate a less sweet treat seems to be making the grade.  More and more brands are making it easier for parents to find and select reduced or no-sugar options that appeal to our kids and also lessen my anxiety when other kids parents start judging my snack options!

As well, products and ingredients that are providing me with more recipes and inspiration to up the ante on usage ideas that are nutritious, taste good and help me use it before it goes bad are making their way back on our grocery list every week.

Free range

We love products that promote play – more specifically, physical movement.  Toys, activities and services that are providing more options for kids to get offline and have fun. Having games in or on pack not only appeals to the target audience, but keeps brands top of mind and visible. We had a training pants box that stayed in our house for two years because the inside had a car racing scene that our kids coloured and played with non-stop!

Products don’t have to be traditional games or sports to enable play, we just need to get more creative.  Consider your current assets (physical and digital) and how they could be re-launched to work harder and drive more engagement with your shopper and consumer.

Good for all kid-kind

On a weekly basis I must utter to my kids “there are no boy colours or girl colours, just colours!”  And for some time I felt I needed to share the same with kids apparel and accessory companies.  But lately, there has been a welcome shift across kids wear, lunch packs, bedding, backpacks, toys and even snacks that finally breaks the trend away from typical trucks, sports and princess themes to a mix of patterns, animals, characters  and fun colour patterns that appeal to more kids and make for more shoppable options in-store.

Plus, they make for great hand-me-downs, and that doesn’t mean that we purchase less of a brand, it actually drives loyalty.  When a single product has life beyond kid #1, it encourages us to buy again for that child – and to spend more – when we know a product will outlast a season or growth spurt.  As well, it encourages us to explore more from the brand knowing that they have longevity and may appeal across genders and even ages and stages.

For new brands and products, being able to see reviews (at launch) across a range of consumers, or having some level of stress test or guarantee (particularly on higher ticket purchases) is a great way to bring us in early.

At the end of the day, brands or products that find a way to deliver relevant solutions, when and where we need them most, get top marks (and top spot) in our home this year.

Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.


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