Marketing Fruit to Kids is “Sticky”


Photo from Cuties website highlighting their marketing target of children.

Cuties, the California mandarin brand selling two varieties (Clementines and Murcotts), have figured out how to corner the market on selling fruit to kids.

Kudos to them on taking on the challenge when so many food manufacturers believe that only highly processed foods are the only way to sell food to kids.

Fruit marketing gets a bad rap since it is believed that the lowly fruit cannot be repackaged or reformulated to look or taste better to appeal to the finickiest of eaters – kids.

I first noticed Cuties while grocery shopping last year, but they have been around for 10 years, according to their website. They can be found in the fruit section of most grocery stores, but these are in a cleverly packaged bag or sold individually. It’s obvious that they are marketed for parents to buy, and for kids to eat.

I asked my wife, a second grade teacher, if she had ever heard of these mandarins.  She told me that most of her kids eat these mandarins for their mid-day snack and that she has been finding the skins all over her classroom everyday for the past couple of years. How can this be? No candy wrappers, no chewing gum, no snack cake crumbs…but mandarin skins? Really?

My wife tells me that the kids love them for many reasons like their small size, sweet taste, easy to peel skin, and no seeds. But the same can be said of seedless grapes or bananas. How come kids aren’t bringing these fruit into the classroom?

Aha, it’s the stickers! She says the kids go crazy over them, trading them, sticking them on their face and arms, and just plain having fun while eating the mandarins.

The stickers are clever like “U R A Cutie, “Valentine Cutie,” or my favorite for the holidays “Seedless Greetings.” Just check out the Cuties website and you will notice a cleverly designed smiling mandarin with a partially unzipped skin – very kid-friendly!

It did not take long for me to start noticing billboards, television commercials, and an all out marketing assault on a daily basis.  Their TV commercial tag line is just as sticky – “Kids love Cuties because Cuties are made for kids.”

Check out one of their commercials on their Facebook Page.

In a time when people are extremely concerned about marketing sugary cereals and fast food to kids because of the rise in childhood obesity, this is a welcomed change towards healthier options.  Each Cutie packs 40 Calories, 0.25 g Fat, 200 mg Potassium, 8.5 g Carbohydrates, 2 g Fiber, 0.5 g Protein, zero Saturated and Trans Fat, zero Added Sugars, 145% of the RDA for Vitamin C, and on and on.  You’ll never see these numbers in a cookie!

I wonder now, if the sticker for the Chiquita Banana woman should have an extreme makeover?  Lets call her banana-fanna-fo-quita and have her dancing to The Name Game.  Or how about getting rid of those silly UPC stickers on apples, how boring.  Let’s get creative for the sake of our children’s health.  As for Cuties, great job.  You have me sold, and I don’t even have any kids!

(Note this post was originally written by me in May 2011 but was migrated from another blog of mine and updated.)


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