Seasonal packaging: Is it beneficial for businesses?

With several festivities just months away, it is important for brands to consider seasonal packaging as an option for boosting sales and beating 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. Businesses also know that most consumers will opt for something that reflects the holiday spirit. 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%.

Mistakes to avoid

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.

Hetal Pandit, director of branding and packaging design agency DCP, said:
“You could argue that brands should take more risks to engage with the consumer and think about 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.

“Brands could even focus on winter packaging and make it less about Christmas so they can keep the product on the shelf after the New Year and reduce some of the risk.”

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 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 some may be more relevant than others.

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

Getting creative

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

Hetal said: “Christmas is a time of giving so you could create a more premium looking product through the packaging design and the packaging itself to encourage gift purchases.”

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

Producing packaging that customers can keep or use again is also a great way to stand out to a shopper. 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.

Keep 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 backlash from customers who mistook the new design for their Diet Coke products and had accidentally drank the full-fat version. The brand was forced to launch red alternatives of this limited-edition packaging to please unhappy customers.

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.

Cost

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 have to use an external packer who might add the extras on for an additional cost.”