There is an interesting new study from the University of Pennsylvania regarding marketing and kids. They had children ages 4 to 6 “taste test” a healthy cereal that was served in boxes labeled “Healthy Bits” or “Sugar Bits”. They also tried both names with and without cartoon characters on the box, but it was always the same cereal. It’s no news to anyone with young children that the packaging influences what they want in the store (just watch the tantrums being thrown in the cereal aisle) but the study found that the kids actually believe the cereals with the characters on the boxes TASTE better. Now that’s effective marketing - or brainwashing - take your pick. Without the characters they rated the Healthy Bits better than Sugar Bits, I would guess due to prevalence of "healthy food" marketing, but a good result nonetheless.
This got me thinking about why manufacturers pick certain designs (instead of ours…) and how you may want to view what this business is really about. One of my short definitions of what we do in art licensing goes something like this: we try to convince manufacturers that their product will sell better with our design on it rather than someone else’s design, or worse with no design at all.
Sure we would like to think there is a lot more subtle nuance to our industry, and sometimes there is, but that’s pretty much the bottom line. You can certainly work upward from there, but try not to lose sight of what really drives your customer’s business.