3/2/09

learnings from bears

i was in the grocery store the other day and noticed the usual selection of bear-shaped honey jars and it got me wondering: if bear-shaped honey jars sell that much better than regular-shaped jars, why don't we also see lion-shaped meat?

based on my local grocery store selection, EVERYONE must want the bear-shaped jars. according to national sales figures, however, only 15% of honey is sold in bear-shaped packaging. a closer inspection of some of these bears suggests what may be holding them back from greater success.



i don't know about the bears you know, but the ones i know don't have rectangular bodies. this looks like a source for the Filet-O-Bear at mcdonald's. you'll also note it doesn't contain honey, it contains honey-flavored syrup. apparently, anything with honey is eligible for the bear-shaped packaging treatment.



this bear has a decent profile, but what's with the head? are those glasses he's wearing? and what's with the serious expression? you're just pouring honey, bear. lighten up.



if this is some sort of tie-in with the disabled, i like it. if not, i have a problem with the semi-formed hands and feet. (c'mon, you were thinking it...)



ok, we've gone from semi-formed feet to fully formed feet. the problem is, the fully formed feet look like webbed mermaid flipper-feet. poor bear's gonna have a hard time surviving in the woods with those things.



finally, we're back to bear feet. unfortunately, this bear carries the burden of a monsterous label around its neck. on a potentially related note, he looks frightened. but in spite of this awful burden, note the bear's chin is still up, his shoulders back, not even a hint of a slump. this isn't just a honey jar. it's a profile in courage.



this one takes a while to get, in large part because the poor bear's face is absent any notable facial features. it's almost like the manufacturer said, "make it round - as long as it has honey inside, people will get that it's a bear." the other thing throwing it off is the fact that the bear is being forced to carry a bowl of honey over its head. a bear CARRYING honey. oh, the rich, rich irony.



here's a better version of the Manual Labor Bear. not only does the bowl clearly read "honey", the bear has facial expressions and... what's that we see? the bear is actually smiling?!? is it realistic to expect a bear to be smiling in spite of being used as slave labor? maybe not. but for such good packaging, i'm willing to loosen my firm grasp on common sense.



whereas Manual Labor Bear wore a wide grin, you can't help but think this bear is just going through the motions of smiling. c'mon now, it looks forced. and no one wants to share their breakfast table with a mister grumpy!



the form on this bear is good - note the long torso in particular. but what's with the hat? he looks like a poindexter. and black and yellow? nothing on the label is black and yellow. why, package designer, why?



this bear also carries the dorkiness of the beanie hat, but at least the green picks up his label and, dare i say, his eyes as well.



a quick glance at this and you might think, "that bear has a nice sense of style." but look at the lighting behind the bottle. it's making the product appear much lighter than it actually does. photography trickery, that's what this is.



now there's an impressive hat shape. does the expression on his face look a little vacant? yes, yes it does. he looks like the farah fawcett of bear packaging. but with that dapper hat, we'll forgive him.



see, this is a real shame. the bear actually has a fur-like texture, as well as that nice hat, so he SHOULD be viewed favorably. but this bear went and brought his kid to the photoshoot in a desperate attempt to emotionally manipulate us. well it won't work. two bear claws down, i say.



i don't like where this trend is headed. will anyone need to purchase four different bear-shaped honey jars at once? of course not. so what we have here is a completely fabricated scene. it's like those old lego commercials (not the funny new ones) where they show the legos in an environment that's impossible to duplicate at home. pure marketing drivel.



this one works. you have papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear, as well as their traditional jar-shaped RV. depicting a family unit is far more impactful than showing a group of bear friends out wilding, like the last photo.



it appears these bears have been at the wrong end of a merger. once a proud packaged honey product, they're now relegated to sharing the stage with their traditionally-shaped corporate siblings. the message of this? that if you use large amounts of honey, you won't have time to be futzing with bear-shaped packaging. on the contrary, if you're in a job that requires large amounts of honey, you need smile-eliciting packaging more than ever. that's my theory.



sometimes, you just can't trust Google image searches.



here's a bear that remembers its roots. sure, the eyes look like an afterthought. but by including a honeycomb in his portrait, this bear is reminding us of the romance of using honey - the slow drip, the clear color, the scent. kudos, red. kudos.



woah, cool! forget the ones who love honey (bears), and build your packaging around the ones who make the honey (bees). way to ladder up strategically here.



unfortunately, this combination straw/bear shaped package proved to be too forward-thinking, and was abandoned in the blueprint stage.



when placed in the wrong hands, creativity can be dangerous. here, we have hula girl-shaped honey jars. as a former hula girl, i find the implication that all hula girls love honey to be an off-putting mischaracterization.



maybe it's the angle, but this bear looks like a mutant. i'd go with a year of PB&Js before succumbing to freakish honey packaging like this.



for consumers who WOULD purchase bear-shaped honey jars if it weren't for their fear of breaking the jars, we've found an answer.



these bears are shaped like angels praying. certainly, they saved money on the packaging, as angels' feet are rarely seen and could thus take on a more traditional bottle shape. but this unique-uity has come at what expense?



this is a powerful image. the lurker bear broads over the fresh jars of honey as if to reinforce its influential role in the honey industry. a powerful reminder, indeed.



here we have a couple full-bodied bears along with more traditional-shaped packaging. there is also inexplicably a honey jar shaped as a book.



bingo, bingo. this is where you want to be on this one. here's a bear standing proudly on its feet, with good body shape throughout. the bear's size commands respect, but his facial expressions reveal an approachability not found in such large animals. and the label... dammit, the label reads "syrup." clearly, the honey people could learn a few lessons from this bear.



instead of going with the shape of the ones who love honey (bears) or the ones who make honey (bees), we have the ol' "mosquito with an oxygen tank." could this be the packaging trump card the honey industry needs? does this represent the departure from traditional thinking desperately sought by every consumer segment? will it drive competitors to only seek a BETTER mosquito or a BETTER oxygen tank, or will they too reject the past in order to forge a more innovative path? oh, time will tell. time will tell.

in the meantime, i'll keep my eyes open for carrots shaped like rabbits.

5 comments:

collective-thinking.com said...

As always, a comprehensive, wiki-esque guide to an unexplored niche, and for that, the world owes you a debt of appreciation.

That said, can you explain this guy?
http://www.boingboing.net/2005/07/20/homebrew-gigantic-gu.html

15 ideas said...

it's great to know exactly one-half of my readership appreciates the comprehensiveness, but i have to be honest - when you take on a subject like this, a cursory approach is purely unacceptable.

as for the homemade gigantic gummi bear, the only explanation i have is that someone has even more free time than i do.

brown said...

Quite honestly, I don't care why honey in bear bottle sells that much better than those in regular jars. As long as the public buys the product, then I will continue selling it.

Bart said...

In the grocery store where I always buy my food, honey in bear bottle is the common one to be found even though the raw orange blossom honey too has that kind of container. But I don't get it, why bear instead of bees? Is it because of Winnie the Pooh?

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