Seasonal packaging: Is it beneficial for businesses?

With dozens of holidays around the calendar year, it is important for brands to consider seasonal packaging to boost sales and beat the competition. Retailers are well aware that shoppers come out en masse for occasions such as Christmas, so the choice for customers during this time of year is huge. However, there are many other holidays and events for your brand to connect with. In order to stand out, you may need to invest time and money into your packaging and get creative.

While business-to-business establishments probably won’t reap the benefits of seasonal packaging, the strategy can be extremely effective for business-to-consumer companies. It has been reported that the first time Toblerone changed its brand name to ‘Ho Ho Ho’ on its Christmas packaging in 2006, sales increased by 400%.

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In this guide

This guide is designed to give your businesses the best advice on seasonal packaging.

  • Seasonal packaging mistakes to avoid
  • Which holidays should you focus on?
  • Best holidays for your industry
  • Top seasonal packaging tips

Seasonal packaging mistakes to avoid

The most common mistakes you see companies make are:

  • Overestimating seasonal stock
  • Overspending on a seasonal packaging design
  • Focusing on a holiday that is too specific

Overestimating seasonal stock

A common problem for companies during the holiday seasons is overestimating how many products they need featuring the newly created design. If entirety of the stock is not sold, the company may be forced to dramatically reduce its prices in order to clear the old designs before they are no longer seasonally relevant. Although larger companies can absorb this cost, smaller firms may suffer from the resulting loss of revenue.

However, Mick Clark, Managing Director at WePack, says there are ways around this: “We are seeing more and more companies trying not to steer too far away from the original design and only making minor changes during the festive seasons.

“The last thing people want is for mountains of stock to be left over and having to sell them for rock bottom prices once the occasion has been and gone. By adding something that can be removed such as a label or ribbon, you can quickly revert it back and be able to sell the product after the event.”

If you decide not to redesign the packaging of an existing product, it could be worthwhile releasing a limited-edition item that is only sold during the specific period, making it rare and therefore, more desirable. This gives brands the opportunity to pull out all of the stops and use festive packaging to make the product more deluxe.

Overspending on seasonal packaging design

Hetal Pandit, Director of digital creative packaging agency, DCP, said: “You could argue bigger brands could take more risks but overall I’d say to think about what will engage with the consumer and what will look interesting and stand out on a shelf.

“Seasonal packaging can be cost-effective, especially if brands haven’t updated their designs in a while, but it is important to keep an eye on your budget and see what makes commercial sense.

Focusing on a holiday that is too specific

There is nothing wrong with focusing on a specific holiday when thinking about brand packaging. However, businesses need to weigh up the cost of repackaging to the amount of profit they are likely to see based on the holiday.

If you want your packaging to turn seasonal but are unsure whether a single holiday day is too specific, you could go broader. This process would see your packaging turn fully “seasonal” rather than holiday specific. For example, instead of focusing on Halloween, your packaging could focus on the Autumn season. This process ensures a longer period in which the packaging is relevant, while still offering new and exciting packaging.

Hetal suggests: “Brands could focus on winter packaging and make it less about Christmas so they can keep the product on the shelf after the New Year.”

Which holidays to focus on?

Another aspect for brands to consider is which holidays to focus on. For food and drink companies, it is easy to target festivities such as Christmas, Halloween and Easter. Mr Kipling previously launched packaging for Valentine’s Day with a design covered in pink love hearts and playful phrases such as ‘you’re the apple of my pie’.

For other businesses, such as toiletries or fitness brands, it can be a bit trickier to decide what to concentrate on. However, there are a variety of dates in the calendar that might be more suitable for different brands, including big sporting events, Black Friday, Royal celebrations, etc.

Hetal said: “Making changes to packaging for certain times of the year helps you keep the design fresh and it’s a good way to increase sales and stay relevant in consumers’ minds.

“Brands should consider which event or holiday they would like to be associated with most. There are plenty of opportunities for seasonal packaging but not all will be relevant to each brand.

“Think of holidays and events that may not be as obvious to raise awareness to for causes close to the brand. Skittles did this brilliantly by removing the colour from their packaging to support Pride.”

Most popular holidays and major events in the calendar year

To make things easier, we have put together the most popular holidays as well as major events throughout the calendar year. Use this table to research some holidays and events that your businesses may be able to capitalise on. Some of the examples above should give you some inspiration for ideas.

Do some of your own research and find holidays/events that might suit your brand.

Month Holiday/Event
January - New Year's Day (1st)
February - Valentine's Day

- Chinese New Year

March - Mother's Day

- St. Patrick's Day

April - April Fool’s Day

- Queen’s birthday

May - May Day

- Two bank holidays

June - Father's Day

- Pride Month

- Glastonbury

- Start of summer

July - Wimbledon

- BBC Proms

- RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

August - Leeds Music Festival

- Edinburgh Fringe Festival

September - Blackpool Illuminations

- First day of Autumn

October - Halloween
November - Bonfire Night
December - Christmas

- New Year


Best holidays for your industry

Certain holidays suit certain industries better than others. This short table will explain the main holidays and which industries should seriously consider creating some holiday packaging to match. However, just because we haven’t matched your industry to a holiday does not mean it’s impossible. Get creative and think outside the box!


Best industries suited

Valentine's Day - Florists

- Giftware

- Jewellers

Mother’s Day - Florists

- Giftware

- Fashion

- Home décor

Father’s Day - Alcohol

- DIY tools

- Digital gadgets

-Home entertainment

Halloween - Sweets / confectionary

- Home Décor

Christmas - Almost any industry

- Giftware

- Food/drink

Top seasonal packaging tips

This section is designed to provide expert advice and recommendations if your business is considering seasonal packaging.

  • Tip 1: Get creative
  • Tip 2: Keep your brand recognisable
  • Tip 3: Be prepared
  • Tip 4: Have a promotional strategy
  • Tip 5: Understand costs
  • Tip 6: Don’t overstock

Tip 1: Get creative

The holidays are a perfect opportunity for brands to get creative and really have fun with their packaging designs.

Hetal said: “The best ways to make packaging more festive for Christmas is to use red, green and white colours as well as icons like Father Christmas, snowmen and gingerbread men.”

Adding personalisation to packaging can make a product fresh and ‘in demand’. Nutella previously created the perfect stocking filler gift by offering customers the chance to have names printed on the jar.

Producing packaging that customers can keep or use again is also a great way to stand out. The Body Shop previously released products packaged in lavish tins and boxes that customers could reuse for gifts, storage or decorative purposes.

“By adding a festive element to the packaging with a colour change, glitter or ribbons, you are adding what people are looking for during this period. You can add value to the packaging by giving them a touch of luxury,” Mick added.

Tip 2: Keep your brand recognisable

It is important that businesses don’t confuse customers by creating packaging that no longer represents their company or product. In 2011 for Christmas, Coca-Cola released 1.4 billion special edition white cans to promote an Arctic Home campaign, as an attempt to protect the endangered polar bears. However, they received a backlash from customers who mistook the new design for their Diet Coke products and had accidentally drunk the full-fat version. The brand was forced to launch red alternatives of this limited-edition packaging to placate unhappy customers.

Tip 3: Be prepared

It is important for companies to make decisions regarding their seasonal packaging as soon as possible to avoid missing the event and in time to prepare for any complications or changes that may need making.

Tip 4: Have a promotional strategy

If you’re spending money on refreshing your seasonal packaging, you need to ensure you have a seasonal marketing process in place. Seasonal packaging is a great marketing tool – why not use it to increase awareness of a seasonal promotional campaign?

Running competitions or other strategies combined with seasonal packaging is a great way to promote the brand as a whole. You should decide what your goals are for your seasonal strategy such as brand awareness, increase sales, customer experience, etc. You can then tailor your seasonal packaging to help meet these goals.

Tip 5: Understand costs

Research shows that a new packaging design can vary from £1,000 to £10,000.

Mick said: “Deciding what to spend depends on the product and how limited it is. If something has a higher retail value, then you can probably afford to enhance it significantly. Whereas, you might need to limit what you spend if your business is small.

“If companies have a limited amount of time, they might decide to use an external packer, which will have an impact on their budget.”

Tip 6: Don’t overstock

As mentioned in the Seasonal Packaging Mistakes to Avoid section, overstocking is a common problem when companies create seasonal packaging. According to Nielsen, 60% of consumers make their purchasing decision at the shelf. That means packaging shelf appeal is crucial. Displaying packaging with an old holiday season on can stop a customer from purchasing.

As seasonal packaging has a relatively short shelf life, businesses should be careful not to overestimate and overstock their seasonal products.

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