Prior to 2011, it had been about 15 years since Kraft Foods had launched a new brand. So what better time then to try and invent a whole new category for the beverage segment?
In his presentation at The Packaging Conference (Feb. 4-6; Atlanta, GA), Peter Borowski, head of design at Kraft Foods, discussed the journey of inventing MiO, which he called "one of Kraft's largest and most successful brand launches."
"The company was pushing to create something unique and intuitive," he said. "We wanted to make something that was very different and develop a brand that would have a consistent total voice."
Kraft was already well represented in the beverage industry with iconic brands such as Capri Sun, Tang and Kool-Aid. But the creation of MiO, a flavored zero-calorie water enhancer, wasn't just centered on the product, but also its unique shaped packaging.
MiO is a portable pod in a water-drop shape with a flip-top that comes in 24 individual 8-oz servings per bottle. The #7 plastic packaging is a blowmolded body with an injection molded cap that can withstand drops and falls without spilling the product.
Borowski said with such "tiny" real estate on the package, shrink wrap labeling provided an effective way to broadcast the brand's message and image.
"We leveraged the shrink wrap around the package to bring the product alive; these were deliberate moves to help communicate its offerings," he said.
MiO translates to "mine" in Italian and Borowski said the brand is targeting millennials, aged 18-34, who desire more customization when it comes to their products. Compared to other water enhancers, MiO is a liquid, which is designed to give the user flexibility on how much product they wish to use at a time.
"MiO allows them to make the product any where they like or choose," he said. "These consumers are able to embrace their individuality with this easy squeezable bottle."
The gamble on a new brand paid off; last year Kraft reported more than $200 million in sales for the product, and the company expanded the brand to include MiO Energy and MiO Fit.
Borowski said MiO certainly made a splash in the industry.
"We were the first one out there and all of sudden there are other brands launching a liquid concentrate in a squeezable package," he said. "It's not just competitors, but Kraft itself."
Following the success of MiO, Kraft introduced Crystal Lite Liquid, a new line of zero-calorie liquid drink mix in re-sealable 24-serving bottles.
Last year, Coca Cola Co. unveiled its Dasani Drops line, which is marketed as a "new twist on the water-drinking routine."
Fairly similar to the MiO product, the Dasani drops are packaged in a squeezable 1.9 fluid ounce bottle with a flip-top cap. However, Coca-Cola says that each bottle provides value by offering 32 servings per container, which is "more servings than other flavor enhancer options."
Borowski said going forward, the MiO brand will constantly think of ways to innovate.
"The MiO packaging has perfectly captured the spirit of the product with its shape," he said. "We see it as revolutionary."