Forcing a Second Look at Milk
Fair Oaks Farms is a large, closed-loop dairy farm in Fair Oaks, IN that focuses on sustainable practices and animal welfare to naturally produce milk of the highest quality. Dr. Mike McCloskey, the farm’s founder, is a veterinarian, farmer, scientist and inventor. His patented membrane filtration system, which separates milk into its five component parts of fat, water, protein, lactose and minerals, is the innovation behind the protein-rich foods marketed by fairlife.
A Start-Up in an Established Category
The initial challenge from the fairlife team centered on developing a fairlife masterbrand. The brand would be positioned as a health and wellness leader, an innovator at the forefront of the wellness movement. The only hurdle – the nutrition in the products comes from milk, a commoditized category that had not seen innovation in decades and had lost the attention of consumers.
Through rigorous research and dialog with consumers, the challenge was clear. In order to successfully market its products, the fairlife brand had to find a way to invigorate the perception of milk and shake things up.
Aligning to a Brand Promise
Much of our initial time with the Fairlife team was spent immersing in the complex story behind the brand. We collaborated with the fairlife team and its partners to identify compelling ways to bring the fairlife brand to life. Those ideas were tested and shaped into a brand promise: a commitment to produce highly nutritious, great tasting innovative dairy products that give consumers the vitality they need to live life to the fullest. The sustainable, innovative dairy farms behind the products provided a strong reason to believe.
Time to Shake-Up the Milk Category
The first product to market under the fairlife brand would compete directly with traditional milk. While the bottle shape and graphics would need to be very innovative to disrupt the gable-top cartons and plastic jugs, there was concern that the product was so far removed from the traditional perception of milk that consumers would not be able to understand what it was. The name Purely Nutritious Milk was selected to ground the product within the milk category in a way that conveyed both the product’s reason for being (nutrition) as well as the simplicity of the product (purely). The Real Milk seal would also be used to reinforce the fact that it is milk.
Building on our initial research learning, we audited the milk category and several other adjacent categories to understand form language and category cues. The fairlife team also collaborated with us through several workshops to further synthesize the information, which informed working prototypes that could be assessed with consumers and in the retail context. Whitespace opportunities for design were identified, and attributes were developed that would shape our design explorations moving forward: vitality, beauty, courage, playfulness and simplicity. It was believed that a new structure in the milk category could do what the carafe did in the orange juice category.
Form and Function are Symbiotic
Our team cohesively explored structural packaging and package visuals, as well as overarching design principles for the fairlife brand. When it came to the structural package, we encouraged the fairlife team’s technical packaging partners and leaders from the plant to be involved early to assure that the essence of the brand was not compromised in order to meet requirements. An iconic bottle shape was created to disrupt the category, while building ownable equity for the brand. It is a modern interpretation of the traditional milk carton. The cap and structural ribbing details pay homage to the brand mark. Overall, it is a proud stance for the brand and easy to handle by consumers.
The Most Important Features of Milk
Aligning to a communication hierarchy for the Purely Nutritious Milk packaging posed quite a challenge. The product is not organic, but it is just as clean and more nutritious than most organic milk. The taste and mouthfeel are far superior to any traditional milk. And it is lactose free, hormone free, higher in protein and lower in sugar than any traditional milk. The long list of features are all important to consumers, but including all of this information on the front of a bottle would disregard the brand attribute of simplicity and almost guarantee that consumers would read none of it.
Through several rounds of consumer research and careful consideration of consumer needs and trends, it was decided that taste and nutrition – namely protein – were most important and would take center stage for the fairlife brand. Consumer behavior told us that they hunt for hormone-free and lactose-free claims on a package, so those could be lower priority. The back panel was used to tell the story about the farm, the people and the cow care. These reasons to believe were necessary for building consumer trust.
The final package conveys a delicious taste and is a stark contrast to traditional milk packaging.