First Juice finds its niche with an organic juice for toddlers packaged in a spill-proof, re-usable bottle.

David Glasser
First Juice

Cheryl Thomas
V.P. Marketing,
First Juice

Three years ago, with a solid background in beverages and frustrated by the lack of healthy and convenient drink options for his toddler and preschooler, David Glasser set out to create the ideal juice. First Juice was born.

“As a Dad, I found that many products for kids were either healthy, or convenient, but not both,” he explains. “I simply asked myself, ‘Why not?’ And then I made it so.”

Appropriately enough, Glasser, now CEO and founder, happened to meet his future vice president of marketing, Cheryl Thomas, at a children’s playgroup in town. The pair, along with Julie Bratton, vice president of operations, leveraged a substantial amount of start-up experience, knowledge of the beverage business and a passion to do the best they can for kids to create an organic fruit and vegetable juice beverage specifically for toddlers and their parents.

Now in its third year of operation, the brand’s beginnings were humble: Glasser’s dining room served as headquarters, product and packaging lab and conference room. (When it launched in January 2008, First Juice moved to more formal digs in Randolph, NJ.)

Around that table, Glasser and Thomas validated their own personal experiences that parents are concerned about helping their children establish good habits in everything, especially nutrition, right from the start. “The tough part is that these same parents are ‘time starved’, and want, and need, convenient options,” says Glasser. “We all want to serve our children products that are nutritionally sound and organic, and we do not want to be forced to give up convenience to get these benefits.”

A clear vision to deliver value to the consumer-not just through a “better product”, but through the total delivery to the consumer-was emerging. First Juice would be blended in such a way to help children develop a preference for less sweet flavors early on, when their taste preferences are just developing.

“We thought, felt and believed it before formal research, and we left the research knowing it,” says Glasser.

Both Glasser and Thomas also knew from experience, that packaging design was the first chance to communicate a new brand’s uniqueness in those few seconds you get in front of consumers on the shelf. Thomas, who spent much of her career at Mars Inc., brings to the equation a love and appreciation for packaging that’s rooted in her childhood.

“I became obsessed with branded packaging at a young age,” she remembers. “With my father, whose career has been in marketing, as a role model, I had no question in my mind that I would select a career in marketing or branding where I could impact packaging design.”

To make the brand’s vision of a spill-proof sippy bottle a reality, First Juice approached bottle supplier TricorBraun. After two years of creative problem solving, that vision is now a reality-from both a functionally and (thanks to designer Haley Johnson’s visual interpretation) aesthetically.

The 8oz re-usable spill-proof sippy-top bottle features a modified spout designed for toddlers aged 12 months and older and an outer cap with built-in stopper snaps for added leak protection. A durable, bi-injected, cross-cut silicone valve is comparable to those found in the finest sippy cups, and the bottle’s sporty profile reinforces the child’s feeling of graduating from a nursing bottle. Even the spout is designed to prevent chewing and clamping tendencies that can cause dental and orthodontic issues.

The packaging is also designed with eye towards health and the environment. At home, First Juice encourages customers to refill the reusable 8oz bottles from the larger 32oz containers. Both the cap and the bottle are free of the chemical compounds BPA and phthalates, which have caused concerns for parents.

First Juice’s emphasis on an integrated marketing strategy that communicates its brand promise of  “training wheels for healthy eating” consistently across all touch points has been critical to the young brand’s success.

“All elements of the marketing strategy need to be aligned in order for a product to work in the marketplace. If even one of those elements are misaligned, it could compromise a new product or new brand launch,” says Glasser. “We take nothing for granted. Everything is on message that we do, working together. Of course packaging is a key part of that!”

So far, the brand’s successes have been many. First Juice distribution grew from 520 stores (at launch in January ’08) to 3,500-in one year. The company projects 5,500 stores by year-end 2009. First Juice holds the number one share position at a leading (and unnamed) national retailer, and the brand has won nine packaging, design, new product and taste awards. BP

NAME:David Glasser
AGE: 43
TITLE: CEO/Founder
WHERE OR WHEN DO YOUR BEST IDEAS COME TO YOU?In the morning, after my brain has had a chance to “restart”, like a computer. I need to clear my mental “cache”.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE ULTIMATE BRANDED PACKAGE?For me, it’s a FedEx letter. Whenever your brand name has become a verb you have really done it. Who doesn’t know what it means to “FedEx it to me”.

NAME: Cheryl Thomas
AGE: 39
TITLE: VP Marketing
WHERE OR WHEN DO YOUR BEST IDEAS COME TO YOU?My best ideas come to me outside of the traditional working hours and the typical working environment, when my mind is clear and refreshed.  My creative problem solving skills are especially in high gear while I’m gardening or on vacation, after which I recap ideas onto lists, which often end up in emails back to the team.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE ULTIMATE BRANDED PACKAGE? Apple Mac computers. They have a brilliant product/packaging design, and have projected an image of innovation that crosses borders and generations. Their “packaging” conveys elegant, sleek simplicity, and they stay true to who they are, yet always remarkably current. (As with their new line of highly recyclable green notebooks).  They have been recognized as the thought leaders in their industry, and they consistently outpace the competition on their core business, and with their iPod and iPhone extensions.

Where to go for more information…

Design Innovation
TricorBraun (800.325.7782