Season Gently: Is Themed Packaging A Good Idea?

21 October 2017

You know it’s Christmas when the mega-budget John Lewis TV advert (with full integrated campaign to match) appears. But if you’re not a department store, what’s the value of investing in themed activity with a short shelf life?

Theming your packaging, or running a seasonal takeover across your entire brand, can be a brilliant way to stand out. You might be standing out against your competitors, or even against your own usual branding – either way, the differentiation can be an excellent attention-grabber.

Having said that, there is very little reward in jumping on the bandwagon simply for the sake of it, and consumers are wise to such obvious tricks. There’s a time and a place – so what’s to consider?

Got ideas? So have we – talk to us about brilliant seasonal branding!

Pick your moment

Some calendar events will be a better fit than others for your brand: think about which. Christmas is a broadly-appealing period where lots of products without particular seasonal relevance get involved – but let’s not forget other religious holidays too, or simply going with the seasons.

Celebrating different religious festivals might be more appropriate for other cuisines (or for your target audience), although make sure you do your research to prevent causing offence. Not everyone is comfortable with brands appropriating cultural moments for marketing purposes!

Fail to plan…

There’s a long lead time from initial concept to finished product on the shelf with any redesign – last-minute decisions on festive packaging are unlikely to result in well-structured campaigns. Plan your year out and know what festive periods you’ll target at least 6 months in advance.

Planning is also about estimating demand. The more specific any themed packaging is, the shorter the shelf life – which could have an adverse effect if consumers think they’ll get a good bargain once the packaging is outdated (we all know about the January binge on cheap advent calendar chocolate…). Don’t be overambitious with those packaging orders.

Know why

Using a festive moment can be a great way to launch new flavours, trial new packaging designs or encourage uptake by creating urgency with limited editions. Don’t be afraid to share the message – are you asking customers to celebrate the season with you, are you helping them deliver a personalised festive message, or testing the waters with something new? Encourage their feedback – and not just by providing a postal address.

All or nothing?

Well no, it doesn’t have to be. Seasonal campaigns can be limited to a single flavour of a single product, a whole range, or they can completely take over a brand. Nor do they have to be explicitly linked to a holiday – subtle seasonal colour changes can feel fresh without limiting shelf-life.

Make sure it’s explained somewhere for consumers though, to avoid confusion (and cannibalisation). Can they still get the standard version of your product if that’s what they want?

Do it differently

What’s special about your seasonal campaign, beyond the packaging? That’s not always enough of a reason for consumers. Competitions, charity partnerships, personalised gift-giving and free merchandise add an extra dimension – at the very least, try to avoid seasonal cliches.

Get in touch any time of year to chat with us about seasonal campaigns. See examples of what we’ve done for our clients here.

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