More Than Just A Cup: Kids’ Cups Build Brands While Preventing Spills

June 7, 2021

From the C3 dictionary:

Kids’ Cup, Noun

  • A perfectly kid-sized drinking vessel used by casual dining, fast casual and QSR brands to make families happy.
    • Includes a lid that prevents spills
    • Features branded and kid-friendly design
  • e.g., A plastic kids’ cup is washable, reusable and easy to take on-the-go!

How Kids’ Cups Benefit Families

Kids’ cups with lids are restaurant must-haves. Families don’t just want them, they expect them! In a recent survey of parents, 85% told us they expect their kids to receive kids’ cups at casual dining restaurants, and 79% of parents expect them at QSRs. Why are these little cups such a big deal? Here’s what parents told us:

  1. They prevent messy spills
  2. They’re easy to take to-go
  3. They’re just the right size for kids’ portions
  4. They give kids a special cup just for them, with fun kid-friendly designs
  5. They come with a bendy straw, which is easier for kids to drink from
  6. They can be taken home, washed and reused

Every detail counts when it comes to delivering a great family experience. C3 provides restaurant brands with beautifully designed and brand-tailored kids’ cups with lids that snap on and, most importantly, stay put—because we know how a spill at the table or in the car can put a real damper on a family’s fun restaurant outing! We also know that kids’ cups need to be sturdy so kids of all levels of motor skills can handle them without squishing them. In addition, we always recommend that kids’ straw cups be accompanied by bendy straws which provide the perfect drinking angle for kids’ height and dexterity.

Kids’ cups are part of a best-in-class kids’ program. Activity Books, Crayons and Cups—what we call the Casual Dining Trifecta—ensure that restaurant brands feel welcoming and fun for families, and as a consequence, families have consistently told us that they come to expect all three when they go out to eat. This combination of products speaks volumes to parents when it comes to demonstrating that your brand really understands their family.

Kids’ cups have a role to play in QSRs as well, where the drive-through experience is paramount. And that’s nothing new—according NPD, even pre-Covid, 69% of family visits to QSRs were for off-premises dining (most of which was drive-through traffic). Kid-sized drinks in cups that won’t spill are critical for families on the go.

How Kids’ Cups Benefit Brands

Beyond simply meeting families’ expectations and walking the kid-friendliness walk to keep them coming back, kids’ cups can provide an important opportunity to build your own brand.

The possibilities are endless:

  • They can be an extra messaging channel for your brand voice & personality
  • They’re an opportunity to provide kids & family entertainment with characters or activities
  • They’re an additional platform for brand or promotional messaging
  • They can be a gateway to special digital entertainment
  • They allow your brand to travel off-premises with families, and even live on at home, since they’re often washable and reusable.

A thoughtfully designed kids’ cup can help your brand stand out. Here are examples of a few we’ve created, and what each one is able to bring to the table:

Red Lobster’s kids’ cup is thermoformed of 100% recyclable materials, the best-in-class option for sustainability. Thermoform utilizes a thin-walled construction that minimizes materials and costs. Plus, the cup provides play value with a counting game built right into the design!

Red Lobster Cup
Raising Cane's Cup

Our client Raising Cane’s uses kids’ cups for many things—from their famous iced tea and lemonade, to messaging about community causes they support, to advertising their arcade-style app, which extends the kids’ experience into the digital realm, strengthening their connection with the brand. In addition, Raising Cane’s uses injection-molded cups, which are best-in-class for quality. They are sturdy, reusable time and time again and top-rack dishwasher safe, so the brand lives on at home for months or even years.  

This fun-filled cup has an even more direct path to the digital space. It includes a QR code that takes the consumer directly to a web page populated with the most up-to-date brand messages, from messaging about charitable or sustainability efforts to the latest online family entertainment.

QR Code Cup
C3 Signature Cup

Our C3 Signature cups, designed for independent restaurants, include strawless, spill-proof lids. These innovative lids meet parental demand for a solution to mealtime beverage spills, while also helping to answer the environmental call for plastic straws to be phased out.

Bottom line: kids’ cups can do it all—hold a drink, build your brand, make a kid smile, and keep families coming back.

Ready to discuss how a custom kids’ cup can help your brand? Contact us!


C3 is a Kansas City-based marketing and design agency that brings brands to life for families with children through experiences and entertainment. C3 uses insights, strategy and expertise to produce award-winning programs and custom products to help major restaurant, hospitality and service industry partners connect with families wherever they are—in person, at home or in the community at large.

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